Author Archives: laecuatorianaenespana

“Racism Does Exist – But I Have Never Experienced It”

I came to Spain to better understand the Ecuadorian immigrant experience in regards to racism and discrimination.  What I found was that racism does exist in Spain and it is apparent in the laws and policies constituted by the Spanish government.  While these laws and policies directly affect Ecuadorian immigrants, the Ecuadorian immigrants that I spoke with were not very open in discussing their own experiences of racism.  Many believed that racism was a problem in Spain, but didn’t recount personal experiences of it.  Often, when racism was discussed, people spoke of the racist government and policies that have been making things difficult for them as immigrants, yet racism was rarely used to describe experiences with these policies.

Ecuadorian immigrants spoke of the immigration policies implemented by the newest president that have made it difficult for them to become citizens.  Some even referred to these policies as “racist,” yet others did not equate the policies as a personal experience of racism, even when they were being directly affected.  One immigrant had been waiting a year since he filed papers to become a Spanish citizen.  He stated that before the economic crisis, it only took a year to complete the process and it was very easy, but now, it could take twice as long.  Despite the policies directly affecting him, he did not seem to think that this was a racist or anti-immigrant issue.

Whitney - Spain - Metro

Police inside a Metro Station

Another policy that was heavily discussed among Ecuadorian immigrants was the policy of police checking papers and legal statuses of anyone in the country.  While the police have the right to check anyone’s papers, they have been known to mainly check those of racial minorities.  One immigrant said that the police would never check the papers of a “rubia,” but that they often ask immigrants for their documentation.  While this immigrant seemed to deny that Spain was a racist country despite his own experience of being asked for his papers, he referred to the police asking for documentation as “racism.” Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Ecuadorians on the Move: Money on the Mind

There are many things on the Ecuadorian mind here in Spain.  For many, their first and foremost reason for immigrating to Spain has been influenced by the economy or lack thereof in their home country.  Whether they are sending money back to their families in Ecuador or simply saving their money for their future, past assurances of jobs and wealth have brought them to Spain over the years.

Now the current economic crisis in Spain is causing large sectors of the population to return to Ecuador.  From my conversations, Ecuadorians that are leaving seem to be bringing everything with them, which would indicate that they are planning to return to Ecuador for good.  One man brought 23 suitcases with him to the airport, while another brought 12 suitcases and two dogs.  Surely, this is in part influenced by “Plan Bienvenidos a Casa,” but has also led me to question the relationship between immigrants and their host country. Continue reading