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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora