Spain-Latin America Migration: A Two-Way Track
Hundreds of thousands have left Spain, until recently a land of plenty with a booming real estate sector, to seek work abroad. American countries are favored destinations, even if recession is now raising its ugly head there.
BUENOS AIRES — More than five years of recession in Spain have sent thousands of Spaniards migrating in search of jobs across the world. Latin America, with a shared language and cultural affinities, has been a favored destination. Spanish government figures show that the region received 65% of the 81,000 Spaniards who left their country in 2014.
About 10% of these were former migrants from Latin America who were nationalized in Spain after arriving in search of job. The economic tables turned at the end of the previous decade as Spaniards have sought work in countries like Ecuador, Peru and Argentina — which until recently had been sending them migrants.
There were times in the recent recession when despondency in Spain must have reminded many of the state of generalized poverty and melancholy that afflicted Spaniards in the 1940s and 1950s. Thousands also migrated then, or fled to countries like Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela, either to seek work or escape the regime of General Franco.
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In Madrid, Spain — Photo: Juanedc
Today Argentina, often cited as "the most European of the Latin American countries," is the favored destination in terms of numbers. About 423,000 Spaniards are registered as living there now, from a range of educational backgrounds.
But Estrella Sánchez of the Federation of Spanish Societies in Argentina, which brings together Spanish associations there may offer a hint of the tide turning again: "I would advise them not to come," she said. "This is not the moment to try to set up a new life here, even with university qualifications and everything. They come to try their luck and find the reality is difficult and often don't find work."