By Youssef El Kaidi
Morocco World News
Fez, June 11, 2013
The number of Spaniards who immigrate to Morocco in search of work opportunities is on the rise and the phenomenon clearly attests to the stubborn economic crisis in the northern neighbor.
The Spanish economic boom that began in the eighties of the twentieth century has come to a severe halt with the economic crisis that hit many European countries and braked their economic growth. The number of Spanish people who lost their jobs is on the rise and unemployment rate mounted to more than 30 per cent and 55 per cent among the youth. Under this situation, thousands of Spanish people were obliged to immigrate in search of other opportunities abroad. Morocco, which is only 15 km away from the southern coasts of Spain, is one of the best destinations for Spaniards.
Not long time ago, Moroccans used to venture on death boats clandestinely crossing the Strait of Gibraltar to Spain where work opportunities abounded. Today, it’s the world upside down; the Spanish people are doing the same in the reverse direction towards Morocco. The number of Spaniards officially registered as residents in Morocco quadrupled between 2003 (3000) and 2011 (more than 10,000) according to the National Statistics Institute of Spain. Tens of thousands more are now believed to be in Morocco illegally.
Wherever you go in the northern cities of Tangier, Tetuan, Fnideq and Martil your eyes fall on Spanish workers in construction fields, welding and carpentry workshops etc. The French TV channel France 2 recently broadcasted a report on the phenomenon featuring a number of Spaniards speaking about their experience. Martin Sierra, a Spanish who left his wife and a child and came to Tangier to work as a mason, says “I came in search of a job. In Spain the situation is terrible. There is nothing, nothing.”
Before the economic crisis, Spaniards residents in Morocco were essentially teachers, diplomats, or businessmen, but the economic crisis changed the situation. Now, workers and artisans of all sorts of jobs and crafts come to Morocco and accept to work for the same salary as Moroccans. Massimo Giovani, a Spanish architect working in Tangier, says “before, the Spaniards arrived here as in a conquered land. They were convinced that they can buy Morocco. Now they come here to ask for help and accept to work for the same salary as Moroccans.”
The question that many ask today is how is Morocco going to deal with the increasing number of clandestine Spanish immigrants? Will Morocco expel illegal immigrants from its land? Up to the moment, no official statement has been released in this regard. In his last visit to Spain, Morocco’s Prime Minister Mr. Abdelilah Benkirane expressed his support for Spain in its economic crisis and invited Spaniards to work in Morocco; a call that many people conceived as weird because Morocco itself is still wallowing in ample economic problems.
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