ANALYSIS OF A NEWSPAPER ARTICLE “Salt, a pressure cooker”
( El País , March 7 th , 2010)
We selected this newspaper article because it reflects perfectly a situation increasingly common in cities and towns in Spain: the increasing number of conflicts between certain sectors of the Spanish population and the immigrant population.
Mass immigration, xenophobia and unemployment characterize the social explosion in a town of Girona and alert of what is happening right now in other parts of Spain. A father and his son of Muslim origin walking in a street of Salt
Coexistence in Salt, where 43% of its 31,000 citizens are immigrants, these days has been shattered. Two hundred neighbors, tired of the insecurity in the village a week ago broke badly on the full City Council. Drugs are sold and crime has increased by 23% in the city. 25% of immigrants and 13% of the natives are unemployed. And that has greatly affected the coexistence. The situation has created ideal breeding ground for racist groups. "Almost crime in Salt comes from immigration," says the website of “Gent per Salt”, a group of 25 people who want to "save the city" by imposing strict measures.
Description of Salt Salt is an example of a specific situation being experienced increasingly in many localities in Spain. In 1974, Salt was a district of Girona (later independent as a municipality) where hundreds of flats of council housing were built, without parks or green areas. Much of Andalusia and Extremadura immigration settled there. They cost very cheap (about 42 Euros). These families prospered and most ended up going to the towns around, with better quality of life. Then, Salt flats which were still cheap, were occupied by foreign immigrants who were working, most of them, in the construction industry. In only 10 years, the immigrant population rose from 10% to 43%. Neighborhoods such as Sant Jaume, where Boada Dolors live, tells us how much the place has changed.
The three essential foundations for social relationship fail: 1) Housing 2) Work 3) Education
“ Most of Spanish citizens want to leave town”, says Delfin Perez, the president of a neighborhood community in one of the most troubled streets in the town. Delfin ensures that in the rest of his building the flats are squatted and anyone can get a space to sleep on the floor, just paying three euros.
Two streets down, on a square filled with trash and broken fountains, we found Jose Maria Cedacers, a man full of anger, talking about his building. For him, to live together with immigrants, has become unbearable. "I'm not racist," says this man, "but the true fact is that foreigners don’t want at all to live in community. They throw garbage out the window and don’t keep clean public spaces. I can’t hold this situation no longer." Cedacers says he and four other neighbors bear all expenses of the building.
Jaume Torramadé was Mayor few years ago when the floors which had been raised in the seventies were sold by Spanish people to foreigners at a very low price. He spokes clearly: “I said it was difficult to live with all immigrants who had come suddenly. Salt needed time to solve everything because the problem is deep and very serious. " People asked me why we have them allowed to come to Salt. But I could not do anything, I could not get into an economic transaction between two people“.
In this town, 25% of immigrants and 13% of the natives are unemployed. This fact has greatly affected the coexistence. The immigrants say they have experienced at first hand the wave of robberies. Ataouil, a Moroccan who owns a butcher and a greengrocers shop says: "I have been robbed too in my business. Crime has no nationality.“ Bari is the Fouta bar owner. He is 40 years old and he comes from the Republic of Guinea. He arrived 10 years ago at Salt and he is a victim of crime. Three months ago, people entered his bar and stole. He is one of the many neighbours who want to leave that place. "It's not racism, look at my skin. It’s simply impossible to live here. I do not want my daughters to grow here.”
However, there is a Salt where there are no such problems, where people go to the theater, pay the community charges and young people regularly attend the University. Around the houses there are beautiful gardens. But it’s not there where the foreigners are concentrated: 80% of them live in downtown, where no green grass grows, a place where people just spend most of the day in the street.
The situation is not easy for young immigrants. Most were born in Catalonia. Moroccan teenagers jobless can be seen smoking hashish in the street. They n either study nor work. They spend most of the day playing pool, talking about big cars, dreaming about bags plenty of cash. But the reality is different: "We're nobody, invisible. People just watch us to blame us for any robbery. Whenever something happens in town, there is a police car coming for us."
Most of these young immigrants have studied at La Farga School where only 4 of the 410 enrolled students belong to Spanish families. The rest comes from other countries. "I do not know if I would bring my kids here," says the headmistress. Parents at La Farga School gate
Politicians and educators think that is better if the immigrant students have a better distribution. The most effective form of integration would be a 20% or 30% of immigrant pupils in each school. Politicians say that schools in other surrounding cities should take part in this situation, enrolling inmigrant students from Salt. For now, volunteers are not known.
The language is a real trouble for the immigrant population. When school year starts, there is no child who understands the teacher. At the end, they can fairly well speak Catalan and Castilian. This culture shock produces unusual problems such as the use of the veil in school, parents who refuse to let their daughters go to the pool ... These young immigrants usually don´t go to the university they often do professional modules. The situation is tense but we can find hope in children. For example we can see out of school two girls, one black and one with a veil, sharing an umbrella. ``We have the best relationship of the world´´ said the girls. They think that the problems of coexistence are adults things. ``T hey haven´t grown up together like us´´.
GRUNDTVIG’S PROJECT QUESTIONARY DATE: 2010 MARCH TIPO DE MUESTRA: ALEATORIA SIMPLE TAMAÑO DE LA MUESTRA: 40 AGE SEX STUDIES EMPLOYMENT
1. I think Salt is a laboratory of Spain , what happens here will be repeated in elsewhere. 2. The culture of immigrants from Salt is an impediment to their integration in our country.
3. The health system in Salt not ready for this overcrowding. 4. Ignorance of foreign language makes immigrants’ integration difficult.
5. The foreign student population from Salt should be distributed in different schools . 6. The increasing number of immigrants is closely related to the rise of crime in Salt.
7. The group of immigrants from Salt hardly accepts the rules. 8. The percentage of unemployment in the city is aggravated for the high concentration of immigrants in the city.
9. Salt's business, both immigrants and Spanish , suffer the consequences of this situation . 10. The ultra right-wing political movements in Salt exploit this situation to gain votes.
11. The situation in Salt encourages the growth of ultra right-wing and racist ideas. 12. I think the media exaggerates the Salt´s situation.
13. The education system should be adapted to the needs of the immigrant to provide a better education. 14. I agree with the statement : "Crime has no color or nationality"
15. The crisis increases the tension between residents and immigrants. 16. Salt immigrants "steal" jobs to the citizens of Salt.
17. Health services should take greater account of the cultural conditions of immigrants. 18 . I believe that no political party is able to solve the immigration problem.