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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.

In Buenos Aires. Need a return ticket?
In Buenos Aires. Need a return ticket?

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."

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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