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miércoles, 7 de noviembre de 2012

The Irish Experience: The Spanish Diaspora

"We improved a lot, suitcases aren't made of cardboad anymore"

September 25, Alicante (Alacant for the Catalan-speaking homies). My flight takes off from the city airport. From what they talk about, I can guess than a lot of the passengers are Irish tourists that went to Spain to enjoy the sun because it’s still hot as hell in there. They speak English the way they speak in Ireland, with their particular Irish accent. However, a Spaniard can recognise the Spaniard accent with ease, even when a Spaniard is talking in English. And there is this guy that doesn’t have Irish accent at all and it’s sitting close to me. 

There are some points that the non-Spaniards need to know in order to keep on reading with a full understanding of the situation:
  1. We Spanish people are screwed in several ways
  2. Right now, Spanish unemployment reaches more than 25% of the population, which means that 1 out of 4 Spaniards doesn’t have a job.
  3. That’s one way in which we are screwed
  4. But that’s not all, folks, because youth employment rises to more than 50%. So more than half of the Spaniards aged 16 to 30 are not able to find a job. That's without a job market unlikely to ever offering young students a job.
  5. If you add unfair public money management, corrupt politicians that keep looting the national coffers with impunity, rising taxes, police repression and the like to the mix (you can Google it, it’s so much fun), you have a pissed-off group of young Spaniards that are uncomfortable with the current direction of their country.
You can either do nothing and wait until something, a miracle happens or you can do something about that. If you choose to do something, you can try to convince the Spanish government to make decisions that may help you. Good luck with that. You can also get the hell out of there. Many young Spaniards feel like right now Spain is not the right place for them to be. I myself am not going to deny that. I may even agree.

This guy chose to fly away. He was lucky because he still had a job in an IT company, but when you see how ¾ of the staff is cut and the redundancies are likely to keep on going, you know it’s time for a plan B. As a computer engineer, Ireland looks like an awesome plan. Dublin and Ireland are the European headquarters for IT companies like Google or Twitter, including video game companies, too. It looks like the right place to look for an IT job. He did so, and one of these companies offered him to drop by and have a job interview.

We get to the airport right on schedule. Maybe you need to get off the plane and face the weather to know that you are not in Spain anymore, because there is another guy talking in Spanish. Another computer engineer who found a job in Dublin and comes back from visiting his family and friends. The list of Spaniards that I meet in Dublin keeps growing. They are not only tourists. I meet Spaniards of every kind and with every kind of studies that go to Ireland looking for something better. Emigrating like their grandparents did. A new Spanish diaspora.

Merriam-Webster defines diaspora as “the movement, migration, or scattering of a people away from an established or ancestral homeland”. Spain experienced some in the past; some of them because we were powerful (the Spanish empire, the one on which the sun never sets), some of them because we were not (emigration to Europe in the 60s). But this one is different. They are not like the Spaniards that emigrate from a bleak scenary. In the 60s they had no studies; they barely had time for schools. Now the Spanish emigrants are skilled, they have studies. This Spanish diaspora is a Spanish brain drain.

This is the drama of Spain, a country that underwent a big economic boom, which actually was a time bomb, and had so many jobs that it had to use immigrant cheap labor. Irony is being an emigrant in a country that had issues welcoming immigrants. Parents who were more than uncomfortable with the Spanish immigration had to see their children emigrating. Karma strikes back. I can help but feel that I’m living an important episode of Spanish history. One that Spain is going to regret deeply.  

I don’t know why Spaniards choose Ireland, but I guess that they choose European capital cities in general. As far as I know London is also full of Spaniards. The interesting point is the effect that this can have in Dublin and Ireland. It is too early to talk about changes, but you can notice it. Some services that were only in English are starting to be in both English and Spanish. I am not going to do any free advertising, but there is a lot of tourism companies that are starting to offer their tours and services even only for Spaniards. Of course, they have everything in Spanish. Not in English, though. Will restaurants, pubs and the like start to have their menus in Spanish? How far will the Spanish language go in the Emerald Isle? We will see, let's keep an eye on that.

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