El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana

El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana
The Conquistador who put the Amazaon baisn "on the map"....Francisco Orellana

Monday, November 12, 2012

Welcome back Ecuadorians......you are starting to catch-on too!

Spain is immigrants' land of broken dreams

November 12, 2012, 4:51 am

MADRID (AFP) - Jorge Herrera sold his video shop in Ecuador to come to Spain and found plenty of work during its economic boom. Twenty years on, he is worse off than before he left: jobless and nearly homeless.

Faced with eviction after defaulting on his mortgage, Jorge, 41, is camping outside a Madrid bank, along with other ruined Latin American immigrants, demanding that it negotiate to write off his debt.

They are among hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans who came to Spain during its construction boom, which provided well-paid jobs for unskilled workers on building sites and, in Herrera's case, discos and hotels.

"We are people from another country who came here to live a dream, to look for a better life," said Herrera, one of a group of immigrants huddling in thick coats and blankets against the winter cold.

"What we have ended up with is frustrated dreams," he said. "We are looking for a solution to this nightmare."

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa is among Latin American leaders visiting Spain for the Iberian-American summit from November 16-17 in Cadiz, at which the plight of such immigrants is expected to be raised.

"Our leaders must do something," said Herrera.

He took out a 120,000-euro ($153,000) loan to buy an apartment in Madrid in 2003.

"Spain was a different world then," he recalled. "There were lots of opportunities. I worked in the hotel industry and they never stopped calling with work. I had a good income and we were doing very well."

A married father-of-two, he is now jobless, as is one in every four workers in Spain and four in every 10 immigrants, according to government figures.

Herrera has changed his dream. He now longs to return to Ecuador. But first, for his own peace of mind, he must settle his debts.

Spanish law allows the bank to claim the full value of the loan on a property whose price has fallen, pursuing the the mortgage-holder for the debt even after evicting them.

"If they evict us we will have to leave Spain. Our household doesn't earn enough money to support us all," said Nadia Diaz, a mother-of-two, also from Ecuador.

"But before leaving we want to settle the problem and not be left with a debt that we'll lose sleep over."

Millions of foreigners, most of them from the former Spanish colonies in Latin America, came to Spain from the 1990s up to the start of the financial crisis in 2007.

The number of foreigners in Spain soared from 500,000 in 1996 to five million a decade later, but it has been waning since and in 2011 decreased by 0.7 percent.

Of the Latin Americans still here last year, the biggest group were Ecuadorans who numbered more than 300,000, followed by Colombians and Bolivians, according to the National Statistics Institute.

A survey by an Ecuadoran migration organisation last month indicated that 70 percent of Ecuadorans in Spain now want to return to their native land.

At the chilly makeshift camp in Madrid, one of them, Manuel Arboleda, 50, rubbed his hands together in the cold.
"We immigrants are on our own," he said. "If they throw you into the street, all you have is friends who are in the same situation as you, or worse."

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