Letter to Périco Légasse, who wants to settle migrants in our countryside


At the beginning of 2023, Emmanuel Macron intends to propose a bill “relating to asylum, therefore to immigration to the Republic”. And the first of us to specify (therefore to recognize …): «Our politics today is absurd because it consists in putting the women and men who arrive, who are in the greatest misery, in the poorest. Before calling for “a better distribution of foreigners welcomed on the territory, in rural areas, which are losing population”.

If I were on the left I would applaud with both hands approving this generous initiative decided, moreover, by those who know so well how to differentiate “those who are nothing” from those who are worth it. Yes, I would clap with both hands and hurry to welcome in my guest room or in my small secondary residence (bobo on the left) those who will necessarily have to provide for the table and accommodation.

If I were right, I would obviously find the idea unacceptable and quote, in the chestthe risks associated with precariousness, the sudden usurpation of local jobs, the impossibility of integrating these foreigners into rural populations.

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Having been (quite simply) in the countryside for almost 59 years, I prefer to analyze this hypothesis with the eyes of someone who is broken in rural subtleties. Because, evoking “the rural spaces that are losing population”, the President of the Republic implicitly acknowledged the abandonment of these isolated territories where no one wants to come and take care of, invest, teach, trade or simply settle and rest because there is no more a bar to call, there is no more network to connect to, no more clinics to give birth to, no more specialists to diagnose, no more peasants, artisans or industrialists to hire and since, imprisonment obliges, a certain government has pushed them to pack your bags, no more bistros to quench your thirst, no more restaurants to eat. The list is long of the causes and consequences that accelerated rural abandonment. And when I hear it, Mr. Périco Légasse, say these days, from a Parisian recording studio: “It’s a great idea, we can allocate a piece of land and turn it into peasants. This is the future of our peasant life “, I wonder what you mean by” piece of land “and I come to ask myself some questions about your ability to be able to speak, as you usually do, about the profession of farmer.

This propensity to want to take care of other people’s affairs, to necessarily know what is good for them and to always want to “be peasants” begins to become painful. What do you know, sir, of the daily life of a peasant? This daily life that you idealize, this space that you “values”, without knowing how much it costs to hold the instrument in your hand, not for a few seconds in front of the cameras, but for a lifetime. What do you know about these loans that need to be repaid, even when the elements interfere, even when market prices plummet, even when fate pursues these never-arriving crops. What do you know, Messrs Legasse and Macron, of the vertigo that invades when it declares bankruptcy, what do you know of the discomfort that reigns when hail, frost, drought or rain destroy crops in a few moments? What do you know about this unfair competition that forces the French farmer, overwhelmed by environmental standards, to abdicate, because he can no longer keep his place on the market?

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And you come to offer these poor people, as in the Middle Ages at the time of the lords and squires, a piece of land or “rural spaces” to occupy them, to move them away from these urban centers and these suburbs where you no longer know how to curb misery and calm the actor down.

It is disrespect both to those who might arrive and to those who might welcome them. Because the rural world, and a fortiori its agriculture, is no longer able to provide either work or adequate structures to those who have had to flee their country.

No, Monsieur Légasse, our campaign must not become this carpet where we will hide the misery of the world because it will have become less visible than in Paris.

Giovanni Paolo Pelras

* Jean-Paul Pelras is a writer, former agricultural unionist and journalist. Chief editor of the newspaper The Agri Pyrénées-Orientales and Aude, is the author of about twenty essays, short stories and novels, winner of the Roussillon Mediterraneo Award for A murder for the memory and the Alfred-Sauvy Prize for The old. His latest work, The journalist and the farmer, was published by Talaia editions in November 2018.

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