Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Immigration in Spain: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Part III)

And now the ugly...

Metro Madrid is on the hot seat after videos emerged showing private security guards hitting and taunting immigrants in the Metro system. The first video to surface showed four security guards beating up a South American who had passed out drunk on a bench in the Metro. A fifth security guard filmed the incident on his cell phone. A number of other cell phone videos were unearthed showing security guards in the Metro humiliating, attacking, or harassing immigrant passengers.

The responses of the private security firms and the Metro itself have been downright pathetic. The security firm put the four guards seen beating the South American on leave. The guard who filmed it? Still on the job. The suspended guards and their colleagues have defended their actions by saying they are poorly paid and work long hours, mostly on their feet. I can name a number of other jobs that fit the same description, but you don't see many bartenders or waiters, for example, slamming their trays over clients' heads. The Metro -- which has surveillance cameras in every station -- has defended itself for not reporting these incidents to the police by saying they thought the images were "fiction" and/or the responsibility of the private security companies, not the Metro.

It remains to be seen whether more of these videos will come to light and whether any of them will show Metro guards attacking non-immigrants. As it stands now, however, it appears that these private security guards were anti-immigrant and should not have been put in such positions of power. I never had much respect for these guards anyways -- they spend most of their time standing around talking, completely ignoring the passengers walking by -- but my opinion has now fallen to all-time low. I can only hope that the firms responsible will revise their hiring processes and take more responsibility for the actions of their employees.

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