Spain’s New Picaresque

When the scandal broke out in Germany last week of neo-Nazi security guards working in an Amazon warehouse, I was interested to note how many of the bullied migrant workers there were Spaniards. One of them was a Spanish art teacher in her 50s and the mother of three children, who was forced to emigrate and look for work when she lost her job.

During the Franco era, Spanish workers regularly toiled in Germany and other northern European countries, because there was no work for them in Spain, and the fact that such emigration has begun once again is another testament to Spain’s disastrous economic implosion.

There was a time until very recently, when such things seemed unimaginable. I remember very well the atmosphere in Spain in 1992, when I was living in Barcelona.  That was the year of the Columbus quincentennial, the Barcelona Olympics, and the Seville expo,  when Spain was briefly the hippest country in Europe, if not the world.

It was a year in which Spanish history was reinvented in keeping with the upbeat mood,  when Christopher Columbus briefly became a symbol of the ‘triumph of the West’ narratives that followed the end of the Cold War, and Spain’s genocidal invasion of the Americas was politely referred to as el encuentro – the encounter…

My new column for Ceasefire magazine on the Spanish economic crisis.  You can read the whole piece here

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