Boom turned bust causes Spanish exodus to Latin America

Published:  2 Nov at 6 PM
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Spain’s economic boom, sparked by its EU entry in 1999, attracted millions of Latin American migrants, many of whom, along with a growing number of Spaniards, are now leaving the troubled country

.After four years of bust following the ten-year boom in the Spanish economy, many immigrants from Latin America are now returning home. They’re accompanied by a growing number of disillusioned Spanish nationals hoping to benefit from the lower cost of living and growing economic opportunities overseas.

Traditionally, the Spanish are the least likely to leave their country of birth, but with unemployment now at 25 per cent, many believe there is no other option. Xavi Berdala, a 45–year old former photographer and now pizza parlour owner in Mexico, put it succinctly, saying that Europe had gone down the toilet.

Around 370,000 migrants left Spain in 2011, a tenfold increase in the number for 2008. Although the vast majority were naturalised migrants returning home, 50,000 were native Spaniards, giving an 80 per cent increase on the years before the financial crisis hit home.

The reasons for their departure for hopefully greener pastures is obvious, according to Reuters, with the Spanish economy now trapped in a recession which began in 2009 and 50 per cent of those under 25 unable to find employment. Unemployment benefit in Spain ends after 30 months, leaving more than on in every five citizens surviving below the poverty line.

Spain’s economy is predicted to stay at floor level for at least five years, and its 2013 budget plan is woefully optimistic as the IMF expects a contraction for the next two years. Chile, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil and Ecuador have seen Spanish migrants as well as returnees in ever-increasing numbers, with the trend likely to continue beyond the immediate future.

As a result, JP Morgan Bank recently noted that the only solution for Spain’s younger unemployed is to leave the country. Many Spaniards between the ages of 20 and 40 seem to be following the bank’s advice.
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