Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Expect a rise in xenophobia

"But Spaniards have been largely shut out of those jobs. Those bent over rows of strawberries under plastic greenhouse sheeting or climbing ladders in the midday sun are now almost all foreigners: Romanians, Poles, Moroccans, many of them in Spain legally.

“The farmers here don’t want us,” Mr. Rivera said with a defeated shrug.

Local officials and union leaders say Mr. Rivera has it right. Farmers have been reluctant to take Spanish workers back — unsure whether they will work as hard as the foreigners who have been picking their crops, sometimes for a decade now.

So far, only 5 percent of the pickers this year are Spaniards, said Diego Cañamero, the head of one of Spain’s largest labor organizations, the Field Workers Union, or S.O.C. He said the union was working to keep tempers from flaring and to persuade farmers to employ local people again, but with little success.

“There is a sense of bewilderment among the Spanish workers,” he said. “They say: Why do they let people come 5,000 miles, when we need the jobs?”" (Thanks Annie)

We are all someone else's farmworkers. But I expect a rise in xenophobia, and not only against Africans especially as the Spanish economy is going the way of Greece, and the Euro zone is shaky.

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