Venezuelan migrants in Spain are jobless, eat in churches and live in small rooms with nothing

Venezuelan migrants in Spain
Interview with four Latin American immigrants in Madrid: “There are days when we only eat once.” Photo: EFE/ Luis Millán

Jonathan is Venezuelan. He has only been in Spain for 20 days and already speaks as if he had spent a lifetime here. In this short period of time he has already worked and his boss has refused to pay him, he has already shared “a small room that has nothing” and he has already ordered food in churches: “there are days we only eat once” .

He entered Spain like many other Latinos, as a tourist, but he is in an irregular situation since his intention when he came was always to stay.

A few days ago he demonstrated in Madrid in front of the Spanish Congress of Deputies for Refugee Day, where a couple of hundred people demanded better access to administrative appointments in Immigration to manage their situation.

Venezuelan migrantsVenezuelan migrants
Jonathan has only been in Spain for 20 days and already speaks as if he had spent a lifetime here. Photo: EFE/ Luis Millán

Illegally in Spain

Now he has just returned from the Plaza Elíptica in Madrid, in the south of the city, where businessmen go with their vehicles to pick up migrants to take them to work for shifts, illegally, especially for construction and construction work.

He has not had any luck, he tells EFE, the police “was around” and few vehicles have dared to stop in the face of possible fines and arrests: “the life of a Latino is hard, because I arrive alone, I have no one, I have never thought that they don’t give you a job here. We are in the 21st century and we live in slavery.

And he regrets that migrants in an irregular situation are “poorly paid and harassed”, because “they mistreat us, they put us to work and they don’t want to pay us. Why don’t they give us the opportunity, there are colleagues here who eat once a day”.

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The Venezuelan José received political asylum, despite this, his employment situation is not far from that of Jonathan, since asylum seekers must wait six months from the time they submit the application to be able to work legally. At 5:30 am he goes to Plaza Elíptica to try his luck. Photo: EFE/ Luis Millán

“I haven’t found a good pattern yet”

José has a different casuistry from that of his compatriot, since he received political asylum because he left Venezuela due to the situation in the country and due to persecution by the Police, one of the elements necessary to prove to obtain asylum.

Despite this, his employment situation is not far from that of Jonathan, since asylum seekers must wait six months from the time they submit their application to be able to work legally. At 5:30 am go to Plaza Elíptica to try your luck.

«You survive as many of us do, one day of work, two and you save until you complete the payment of the room; to eat, if you are not working, there are churches and organizations that offer breakfast or lunch, if you are working there are times when you go away and spend the whole day without eating until at the end of the followingnoon you get paid and you buy something”, he says to EFE.

“I’m a professional butcher and a truck driver, I had never worked in construction and there are good bosses and other regular ones, I still haven’t found a good one but here we are,” he says ironically.

Alan is Honduran, with a degree in International Trade, and had to leave his country due to gang pressure. Photo: EFE/ Luis Millán

From Honduras

Alán is Honduran, with a degree in International Trade, and had to leave his country due to pressure from the gangs. He tried twice to enter the United States and following two failed attempts he returned “even worse” to Honduras and forged his departure to Spain.

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“I had to come in silence, only my family knew that I was leaving, I sold everything and I came,” this young man, who is forced to hide his situation from his family to avoid suffering, tells EFE.

He explains that one of the big problems that he and the rest of the migrants encounter is the lack of access to appointments at the police station and in Immigration, since “one searches the web and cannot find it, it is closed, there is no way to enter and only there is a way like everywhere, paying ».

A situation arising from the pandemic, which from the College of Administrative Managers of Catalonia (Cogac) associate with «lack of staff and organization».

Marc Giménez Bachmann, rapporteur for the Cogac Immigration and Nationality Commission who has been advising migrants for 25 years to regularize their situation, tells EFE that there are “very big problems” in getting an appointment with the Police.

«There is a drama for non-EU citizens and even more so for EU citizens, because in the European Union there is freedom of movement, they can come here and work, but they have to apply for the NIE -foreigner identity number-, for these there is absolutely never appointments, for which a community right is violated, ”he adds.

According to criticism, a Spanish citizen takes 10 minutes to renew their identity card, but a foreigner takes 45 days to get any card.

Alán resigns himself and shares that, following all, they are “illegal people trying to do what is fair, what is good.”

“My family does not know my current situation, they ask me how I am and I tell them that I am very well,” he acknowledges, and for that reason he demands papers for everyone, “that it be a free country for all, not that they give it to us, but that they help us to do the procedures at least».

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