News / Europe

Spain's Economic Slide Hits Latin American Immigrants Hard

Al Pessin
Spain’s economic crisis, including 25 percent unemployment, has hit members of its Latin-American immigrant community particularly hard.  During the boom years in the 1990s, Spain absorbed more than seven-million Latin-American immigrants, increasing its population by nearly 20 percent.  And when the economic crisis hit in 2008, most of the jobs they came to do in construction and household work disappeared, leaving few with money to send home or even enough cash to make a call.
 
As a result, it is a slow morning at this cafe in Madrid’s largely Latin American Tetuan neighborhood.  Ecuadorian Waitress Rosario Leon has been in Spain for 16 years.  She still has a job, but she is concerned about the future for herself and her two teenaged daughters.
 
“It worries me a lot, and it hurts me a little, having to contemplate going back to my country," said Leon. "We came here in search of a better future for our children and we managed to more or less succeed.”
 
But the past four years have shown just how fragile that success was.  Unemployed mechanic Miguel Poeda, 64, came from Ecuador 14 years ago and worked mostly at construction sites.
 
“I am taking the ‘Voluntary Return’ program," Poeda said. "I will get all my unemployment benefits. We are given this opportunity to be able to return home because the situation here is going from bad to worse.”
 
Millions of other unemployed Latin-American workers in Spain are facing the same difficult decision, as they seek help at shelters and soup kitchens, and desperately look for work.
 
Unemployed Colombian domestic worker Blanca Africano hopes holding up a sign will help her find a job.
 
“Because of the crisis you can not find work. I have been in this crisis for four years already. I take care of seniors, I can take care of a baby, or I clean, I cook, I can do all the domestic chores of Spain," she said.
 
But her chances of finding work in Spain’s depressed economy are slim.
 
Forty kilometers and a world away at Madrid’s Autonomous University, the fate of Latin-American workers is on the mind of Economics Professor Federico Steinberg, who came to Spain as a child from Argentina.

“It is expected that an important number, I cannot give you a figure, would leave," Steinberg said. "[They] would either go to their home countries in Latin America or to other developed countries.  That is going to be the only way to solve that situation because it is unlikely that we are going to see another real estate bubble in Spain for the next 30 years.”
 
Experts say it will not take that long to turn the country’s economy around, but after four years of recession even a few more years would be too long for many of Spain’s immigrants.

You May Like

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent, Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mark L from: Costa Rica
October 28, 2012 9:46 AM
As an American living in Costa Rica, which happens to be doing pretty OK for the most part. I am confused as to why Latin Americans living in a country 16 years plus don't have any money saved or a place to call home in their home country. This was nothing but poor planning on their part. It was obvious that countries like Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador were going to experience growth. Latin Americans need to stay informed instead of chasing homes to clean and baby to sit. That's the plain fact.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More