La Crisis: Economy and Racism in Spain

Whitney - Spain - Euro Cup

“Unite Against Racism” banner displayed during the 2012 Euro Cup

Not only is Spain facing an economic crisis but the people here are expressing angst and frustration towards the government for its incompetence to aid its people.  The current Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy Brey, was sworn into office this past December.  While he has only been in office for 8 months, he has not been popular among the people, especially the immigrant community.  One Ecuadorian immigrant expressed that the former Prime Minister worked to get immigrants documented and legalized, while “Rajoy is racist and doesn’t do anything” for them.

Much has been speculated about the correlation between the growing economic crisis in Spain and the racism and xenophobia directed towards immigrants.  It has been argued that the tension caused by “la crisis,” as the locals call it, has only intensified fears of job loss, which could then cause Spaniards to resent those who could potentially take jobs away from Spanish citizens.

While Amnesty International and other human rights groups have created recommendations to reduce racism in Spain, Spain has been criticized for not following these recommendations and denying racist acts.  There is an apparent awareness of racism and discrimination in Spain from the international community, yet Spain may still in denial.

During the final matches of the Euro Cup, banners were displayed on the sidelines that read “Unite Against Racism.”  This could have been a prominent step for the European community to come to terms with the issue, but ironically, the phrase was in English.  Almost none of the people I have been working with in Spain speak English and those who do, probably wouldn’t understand the significance of the phrase.  Therefore, the banners don’t seem like they could have been affective in non-English speaking countries.  While the banners are a start, the international community can only do so much.  Spain will be the ultimate determinant of what will come next.

Posted by Robin Whitney – MA Candidate at CLACS

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