By Rosalie Neuvel
The musician in the metro, the waiters at the restaurant you eat, the cleaners at the OK hostel and little shops were you can buy your Latin American stuff. Everywhere you walk in Madrid you can recognize migrants from Latin America.
There are three reasons why it is easier for migrants from Latin America to come to Spain. Since the mid-Nineties the Spanish economy grew rapidly, until the economic crisis of 2008. Next to that there was the development of the country’s migration policy, where Spain and Latin American countries made agreements. There is also a better acceptance of the Latin Americans coming to Spain, regarding surveys. This has to do with the historical bonds and the greater cultural linguistic and religious similarities.
Thanks to the numerous nationality agreements between Spain and Latin Americans countries, which were signed in 2001 regarding the regulation of migratory flows, a lot of Latin- Americans come to Spain to look for a better future. Especially during the global financial crisis, lots of immigrants left their country because the crisis also hit their economy. You can see the Latinos work in all kinds of shops and restaurants in Madrid. According to the January the 1st 2014 Padrón or local registry, 46.9% of the foreigners living in Spain were Latin Americans. When we take a greater look into Madrid, we can see that most of the Latin Americans live in the city center of Madrid.
Just recently a new restaurant opened its doors just across the OK Hostel in the center of Madrid. Toga is a restaurant where you can get tapas with a little twist. “All the employees in Toga have a Latin American background”, says Pedro Alonso Fernández (31), a waiter from Toga. “I am from Argentina and the rest of my colleagues are from Argentina and Uruguay”. You can get typical Spanish tapas, but just a bit different than the normal tapas. Next to that you can get the real Argentinean steak and Latin American ceviche. “I have worked for a few months in Amsterdam”, Pedro says, “but now I am back to my Spanish-Latin roots”.
The Latin American musicians bring their culture into the metro stations. Next to that you can find several multicultural festivals in, for example in the neighborhood Lavapiés. This is one of the most multi-cultural neighborhoods in Madrid, where you can find a mix of Spanish, Latin Americans and African people. Just two months ago there was a festival at Lavapiés where tapas, music and theater brought people together.
The Latin Americans have proven themselves to be a vital part of Madrid’s economic and social life thanks to their hard work and their cultural activities, which have helped to shape the multicultural lifestyle in Madrid.