Argentine Renzo Fraccaro, 24, just wants to go home. The coronavirus has interrupted his last year of Medicine with a scholarship in Lyon (France). His life is now an aerial maze of buying tickets with different scales and destinations that he cannot fly to because Argentina has closed borders and the tickets he had are useless. He has slept for several days in Terminal 4 in Madrid. Together with his companions Eugenia, 22, and Julián, 24, they are looking for a way to return to their city, Mendoza. To all three, it seems “crazy” to find themselves in one of the main global foci of the pandemic after the president of their country, Alberto Fernández, has closed the borders. Even they cannot go home.
Dozens of Argentines are looking for life in the capital these days without the help of their authorities. “We do not want them to support us but to open the border for us to return. We have a return ticket ”, complains Celia Betbeder, 59, from the tourist apartment she has rented with two other compatriots in the center of the capital. The virus has also infected Airbnb, the portal where they have found it for 30 euros a day. This judicial employee from Mar de Plata knows that the price they are paying is less than half of what it would cost without a pandemic. “But for us, for the peso change, it is a lot of money,” he says.
The one of these Argentines is just a grain of sand in the middle of the desert. There are no figures on how many foreigners are trapped under the state of alarm decree in the capital of Spain. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is taking steps to charter repatriation flights for Spaniards who have stayed abroad. But in most cases, the Iberia company recognizes, these planes take off without passengers from the Adolfo Suárez-Madrid Barajas airport, because they will bring Spaniards back, but countries like Argentina do not let them take foreigners back.
Renzo and his companions were left without the Iberia flight they had booked in the midst of that spiral of government border closure, misinformation, airline dance and impossible stopovers in times of confinement.
Celia Betbeder has also spent several nights at the airport, struggling to get the daily medication she needs after having cancer of the uterus and breast. His anxiety and sadness grow while he tries to have an oncologist make it easier for him to buy this treatment for these days in a pharmacy in Madrid. On Friday he received, for the first time, a call in this regard from the Embassy of his country. The return home, impossible, the diplomats assure him.
Nor can he for the moment fly to the island of La Palma, where he traveled to visit his grandchildren from his country last day 2 and where the crisis of the pandemic passed over him. From the Argentine Foreign Ministry they only provide the list of places where they can stay in Madrid. Of course, by their own means. “It is good that they stop tourism, but at least they give us a solution.”
In the midst of uncertainty, dozens of them organize themselves by WhatsApp groups in search of a solution that in no case depends on themselves or their circumstances. They cling to a flight that supposedly takes off this Saturday from Madrid to Argentina to repatriate Spaniards. But the wall of his government’s refusal remained insurmountable on Friday.
Most of the world’s regular flights are being affected by the restrictions imposed by the virus crisis, Iberia sources explain. Now, in each case, they have to negotiate the special conditions in which the trip is carried out in coordination with the Foreign Ministry. In recent days, empty flights have taken off from Madrid to pick up Spaniards in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama, Peru or Senegal. But those countries do not allow their nationals trapped in Spanish territory to return home on those planes. Others like Guatemala do not even allow Spaniards to be repatriated, reports the Spanish airline.
“They are leaving us stranded in the greatest source of contagion. I am sleeping on the floor. I do not have food. No money… It’s crazy that an empty plane leaves for Argentina, ”laments Lucas Bórquez, 34, as he embarked on a new journey to clarify his future in a country from which he cannot leave.
Information about the coronavirus
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