Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

All for a better life

Spaniards, in my opinion, are even more racist than Britons. Traditionally your average Spaniard has picked on the Gypsies but now with nearly 9% of the Spanish population made up of first generation immigrants (Moroccans and Ecuadorians out in front) they have a new target and immigration is a big topic of conversation and one of the two "political" things that worries Spaniards most; the other is unemployment.

There is a wave of people heading for Spain. The southern tip of mainland Spain is just seven
miles from Africa, there is a land border with Morocco and the Canary Islands are just off the coast of Western Sahara. Spain is part of the EU - f you can get into Spain then France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and even the UK are possible though Spain's thriving hidden economy makes it a good destination in itself.

People from the Gambia, Mali, Nigeria, Chad, Guinea, Ghana, Uganda, Sudan, Benin, Niger,
Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and Eritrea have all turned up in the Canary Islands recently having made the hazardous crossing in small boats called Cayucos. It's a regular news story showing the coastguard transferring stunned looking Africans from their overcrowded, and often, sinking boats to the safety of the the Guardia Civil launches.

A Cayuco turned up on one of the holiday beaches of Tenerife the other day. The coastguard had failed to intercept it and lots of the Africans on board were in a bad way with several of them suffering from hypothermia. Bikini and swimming trunk clad Spaniards rushed to the waters edge offering water and food and wrapping people in their beach towels to warm them up.

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