By Youssef El Kaidi
By Youssef El Kaidi
Morocco World News
Fez, March 22, 2013
Only a few years ago, Moroccans used to venture into the sea on deadly dilapidated boats amidst the roaring Mediterranean and Atlantic seas in search of the “never-never” land or what seemed to them the Garden of Eden. The material enticements of Europe for them deserved the adventure; many of them died in the middle of nowhere, while a few of them got to the other shore to start a disillusioning and hard journey of self-assertion and integration.
The morbid scenes of swollen bodies thrown up by the sea were usually reported internationally by visual and textual media. Who ever thought that someday this situation will turn upside down? Who ever thought that the Spaniards will someday flood Morocco, especially the northern cities, escaping the economic crisis that exhausted their economy and exasperated their social and economic problems?
It seems that the stifling economic crisis that hit Spain the last two years destroyed the dreams of many Spaniards who found themselves overnight jobless. The thought of migration to Morocco seemed a good solution, albeit a temporary one to the crisis. Although Morocco is not a rich country, some Spaniards are betting on it to start a new life, due its low standard of living and geographical proximity of the Iberian Peninsula.
Many press reports have been conducted about the issue of opposite immigration from Spain to Morocco. The German Deutsche Welle Arabic news outlet (DW) which is affiliated to Germany’s international broadcaster made a report entitled “The Moroccan paradise refreshes the Spanish season of migration into the south” featuring a number of Spanish immigrants in Morocco who tell their stories and explain their motives.
After he went bankrupt, Antonio Sico, a Spanish businessman, had no other choice but to head southwards, which he “never ever imagined would do someday.”
In an interview with DW, he states: “I decided to migrate to Morocco after I was offered a job contract by a company that owns a branch in Casablanca. I found it an appropriate position. They knew my experience in project management, so they made me in charge of the Spanish entrepreneurship branch in Morocco.”
Antonio Sico used to go to Morocco as a tourist but the thought of working there never caressed his mind. He says: “I visited Morocco many times as a tourist, but I never thought I would work there.
“I think that the good thing offered by the southern neighbor of Spain is its geographical proximity to the Iberian Peninsula, but this proximity is paralleled by a drastic contrast in traditions and habits; it is another world that is different from Spain historically and culturally,” he added.
Many Spaniards are less lucky than Antonio Sico and work in Morocco in less prestigious jobs for very low wages. According to a report by Aljazeera, Liya – a 24 year-old Spanish girl- works as a babysitter in Martil for 1500 DH ($ 177).
Had she found job in her country, she would have never been in Morocco as she says: “Although I love Morocco and its people and I find myself very comfortable here, I wouldn’t have come here had I found a high pay job in my country.”
In the same report, Manuel Bacarro – an artist and interior designer – said that he came to Martil to give lessons in art, especially the art of decoration at the Spanish Cultural Center. He went on to say that the economic crisis was the main reason for his migration to Morocco.
“What is happening now in Spain is completely contradictory, many families suffer the high cost of living, especially in the capital Madrid,” The former biology and art teacher said.
Another recent report by The Christian Science Monitor, published on March 1st, 2013, says that the number of Spaniards living in Morocco has quadrupled over the last decade as Spain’s flailing economy unexpectedly prompts its citizens to look south for new opportunities.
“Tens of thousands more are now believed to be in Morocco illegally.” The report features a Spanish mechanic who “did not even joke about” working someday in Morocco. Marcos Martinez Bacelo had to leave his home town of Vigo and his family and children to earn a living in Morocco after losing hope in Spain. After introducing himself, Marcos says in what looks like a complaint: “I left Spain to live here for a job because of the high unemployment rate in Spain. The most difficult part about living here is not having my family by my side. I miss my kids, my wife, my parents, my brothers.”
In a statement to DW, the expert in Spanish-Moroccan relations Cheema J. Gary explains that the Spaniards choose Morocco because of its political and economic stability in comparison to its neighboring countries. He says: “It’s enough to look at the situation of the African countries at the moment to discover the level of Morocco’s economic stability compared to other African or Arab countries whose economies have been gravely affected by the wave of the Arab Spring. This is what attracts investors and men power who accept wages much less than the usual salary.”
It is noteworthy that with the severity of the crisis in a number of European countries, particularly Spain, a number of Moroccan migrant workers returned to their country. The number of Moroccan immigrants in Spain is 1.6 % of the country’s population.
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