(El Ejido – La Loi du Profit)

Jawad Rhalib
Belgium 2006 | 80 Min. | DigiBeta, OmeU

As far as the eye can see: A sea of white plas­tic stretch­es for kilo­me­ters up and down the Andalu­sian coast of the Mediter­ranean. Beneath the white-hot roofs of these green­hous­es, migrant work­ers from Moroc­co, Ruma­nia, Mali and Sene­gal toil in tem­per­a­tures upwards of 40° C, har­vest­ing fruits and veg­eta­bles bound for kitchens across Europe. These men and women hire them­selves out as day labor­ers, receiv­ing piti­ful sums of money in return, and – like most such agri­cul­tur­al labor­ers – they are not afford­ed an offi­cial con­tract. Jawad Rhalib tells the per­son­al sto­ries of these work­ers, invit­ing view­ers into their impro­vised dwellings built of card­board and plas­tic, set between muddy paths and rot­ting garbage. Regard­less of what they expe­ri­enced at home, for most, the time in El Ejidos is scarce­ly an improve­ment. Yet, for these “sans papiers,” the green­hous­es of El Ejidos rep­re­sent a gate­way to the West. Nev­er­the­less, aside from the pro­found imagery, what remains in the end is a deep sense of the pow­er­less­ness expe­ri­enced by those facing this exploita­tion – seem­ing­ly tol­er­at­ed by all levels of soci­ety – as well as a cer­tain after­taste found in the veg­eta­bles from south­ern Spain.