Death of Colombian in police custody in Finland sheds light on the desperate plight of many undocumented migrants

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The tragic death* of a twenty-six-year-old Colombian should awaken us to the many dangers that some undocumented migrants face in Europe. According to the Finnish police, Sergio Camilo Becerra González, committed suicide while his parents suspect he was a victim of xenophobia, according to Caracol

Both outcomes, death by suicide or xenophobia, are harrowing reminders of the vulnerability that undocumented migrants face in Europe.

The question we should be asking is why did this young man die in the first place and could his death been prevented?

The father of the victim, Rafael Becerra, was quoted as saying on Noticias Capital  that he had heard five similar cases of migrants dying in Finland while in custody. He doesn’t source his claim.

See Noticias Capital news report (in Spanish) here.


Becerra González’ tragic fate sheds light as well on a disturbing fact: our lack of caring for the plight of others.

According to unofficial reports by advocacy groups, up to 10,000 migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean in about twenty years. These so-called boat migrants are estimated to account for less than 10% of  the over 1 million new immigrants entering the European Union from non-EU countries by air, land or sea each year, according to FactTank

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Read full story here.


One of the questions we should be asking in light of what happened to Becerra González and others like him, is if spending billions of euros to erect higher walls and more effective surveillance in Europe effective solutions.

What is wrong if a person flees war or searches for a better life elsewhere? Didn’t Europeans emigrate to the Americas by the millions at the end of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century? What about European involvement in slavery, exploitation and genocide of indigenous group in Africa, the Americas and elsewhere during colonialism?

In Finland alone, over 1.2 million Finns emigrated between 1860 and 1999 in search of better opportunities.

Part of the narrative on migration in Europe comprises of generous doses of amnesia and fear.

Tightening immigration policy and attacking people who search for better lives in Europe, especially when your country’s standard of living has benefited from the exploitation and war in other countries, is disingenuous to say the least.

Halting migration, especially undocumented migration, is as absurd as was prohibiting entrepreneurship in the former USSR. The present campaign against undocumented migrants in Europe resembles the present war on drugs, which is based on lies and myths that benefit the budgets and wallets of border enforcement agencies and drug traffickers, respectively.

We have to find more effective solutions to immigration than just the usual get-tough stances spread by anti-immigration and even mainstream party politicians.

As long as there is poverty and grossly unequal living standards between countries, immigration will soar, not subside, in the future.


*Read Friday’s story about the tragic death of Sergio Becerra González here.