Saturday, August 05, 2006

Romanians in Spain

There are a lot of Romanians in Spain. A recent survey into Spanish immigration found that something close to 400,000 Romanians live here (and given that the population of Romania is only something like 24 million, that’s a fairly big chunk of the Romanian population). In fact Romanians form the third largest immigrant group in Spain after Ecuadorians and Moroccans. (The fourth biggest group are Brits, who eschew the gritty urban poverty of the typical new immigrant and instead buy bars and houses with swimming pools in small sunny replicas of England, where they can all get together watch Sky on TV and read the News of the World while complaining about the Spanish) [Stats]

The image of Romanians here, though, is terrible. “Romanian” has become almost synonymous with “petty criminal” (and in some cases not so petty). People have told me that whenever anything gets stolen, or when homeless people start cluttering up people’s nice neighbourhoods, it is always “Romanians” who are to blame. (Though it seems that Romanian has become shorthand for all Eastern European immigrants). I have heard this stated to me every time I tell people where I live. It’s not all negativity - the other day I was on the metro and there were two Romanians playing the accordion very proficiently to the apparent delight of most of my fellow passengers who accordingly coughed up a fair amount of loose change. But I have heard a lot of stories – of pickpockets, of organised crime gangs, of house robberies, of public drunkenness, etc etc and so on, every time I’ve mentioned my home. Now, it should be pointed out that I haven’t yet heard anyone actually tell me a story of a personal experience – it’s all that kind of rumour, hearsay and TV news sensationalism. It may be based on an element of truth, but it seems likely to me that it is, at the very least, exaggerated.

Whatever the origins, it does not bode well for the Romanian emigrant experience here, and presumably with EU accession round the corner, there will be even more people looking to come here and work.

14 comments:

Romerican said...

What a terrible prognostication.

I encountered a couple of decent, hard-working Romanians while in the middle-of-nowhere Portugal. Since it was direct, I understood they were great, normal folks very much appreciated by their employers.

I know a great gal in Dublin who has gone well-recognized by her employers for being valuable as well.

Aside from that, I have distinctly gotten the impression from my European friends (note my pre-move connotation, here) that Romanians were synonymous with with beggary (Roma/gypsy population, I believe). Slightly different from your report, but not entirely worlds apart either.

Anonymous said...

mh, I´m from the deep south, the situation here is like that - one romanian killed by another over petty money (the victim was quite well known to me), masses of romanians working ilegally in construction as labourers, builders, tradesmen, etc.., problems with armed robberies (one guy killed in his villa this year) are atributed to anyone from the former eastern block and unfortunatly proved right by consequent arrests... the fear of the unknown - give or take a few common points like language roots, religion, mediterraean, etc.. - coupled with a few "bad apples" makes the normal guy in the street (who does not have a romanian "cha cha" or a romanian builder) feel uneasy about anyone who has not been born within 10km of the native village...especially if they do not have a few hundred thousand euros to buy their own place (although mind you, the rental income from romanians who cannot complain about exhorbitant rental charges due to their own delicate position of ilegal-but-tolerated imigrants does count for at least a few of the locals ...those who have empty apartments..).

Anonymous said...

Everybody in Spain blame Romanians because they kill,steal or drill..Whatever they say, one fact has been proven:MOST of the bad Romanians are not really Romanians, but gypsies from Romania. Please make the difference if you are smart people. I can swear that from all the people in my country the gypsies, turks and other nationalities within Romania are to be blamed for what is called "the Romanian issue in Spain and Italy". Most of the people working there are coming from the country-side and try to make a better living by turning themselves into "slaves". Rarely you will find people belonging to the higher society of Romania working like that within Spain or Italy territories. Just think about that and please don't make the mistake to judge the whole Romanian people because of some dirty bastards that even here in Romania are regarded as a threat. Wise people and, generally speaking, people that visited Romania or did business here can tell that Romanians are totally different than what the rest of Europe knows. It is just a matter of mentality and racialism here.We cannot say that Americans are the worst just because of some of their bad people. This is one of the biggest mistake done in understanding an entire people and judging them after old-fashioned stereotypes.As a conclusion, Romanians are friendly people,the bad people from Spain and Italy are either gypsies/turks living within Romania, either bad people from this country(that can be found everywhere).As an example I would suggest you to make a research about Romanian brains within technology, Microsoft, NASA and so on ..also check about the officiality of the Romanian language in these areas. PEACE everybody!

Andy H said...

To sum up your comment here, "Be more tolerant everyone, hate gypsies instead of us".

I despair sometimes.

Alberto laCalle said...

Hello. I know a few Romanians and they are hard workers, serious and very discrete (they look Spanish).

I don't agree with your appreciation about them in Spain.

Romanians are Europeans we share the same religion in most cases and now EU citizens.

Alberto LaCalle
Bilbao, Spain

Andy H said...

Not my opinion, Alberto, merely reporting what I was told. Glad to hear that there are people in Spain who are happy to welcome Romanians.

Eduardo said...

It's not Romanians as a whole the ones who have a bad reputation.As a matter of fact,Romanians are quite appreciated as they tend to learn Spanish fast and integrate themselves easily into Spanish society.

(Recent figures state that the Romanian community may sum up to 650-700000 people)

Nonetheless,the problem comes with the flocks of Romanian,Bosnian,Macedonian and Bulgarian gypsies that have come to Spain.

Most people know the difference between "normal" Romanians and the ones of gypsy ethnicity.

By the way,one of the most gorgeous and loved Spanish stars,Elsa Pataky, is one Romanian ancestry! (look for her photos in Google!)

Greetings from Madrid!

Andy H said...

Glad to hear it Eduardo (well glad to hear that Romanians are widely accepted, not so glad to hear that gypsies are looked down upon)

Elsa Pataky must be a Hungarian Romanian with that name.

lisa said...

Here in Melbourne Australia we have lots of Romanians good and bad i love them im an Aussie so i love them they luv us thas life

Anonymous said...

I'm from Spain and I just want to say that my opinion about romanians is more positive than negative; of course, there are good and bad Romanian people, just as in Spain, in England... everywhere.
I have had contact with some of them and I have seen that they are decent and friendly people.

ioana.zlotila@yahoo.com said...

I find interesting the topic, just that I think you should pay more attention to the factual data. How come you say that there are 24 mil Romanians in our country, when at the latter census the number was aproximately 21.68 mil people. And the Romanian comunity in Spain has more than 500.000 people.

ioana.zlotila@yahoo.com said...

I find interesting the topic, just that I think you should pay more attention to the factual data. How come you say that there are 24 mil Romanians in our country, when at the latter census the number was aproximately 21.68 mil people. And the Romanian comunity in Spain has more than 500.000 people.

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Anonymous said...

As a US citizen, I went to visit Madrid Spain for vacation and found out the hardway that Romanians indeed are nothing more than scum and garbage. I went to a local bar in Madrid, and found myself assaulted out of the blue for absolutley no apparent reason and was attacked by about 8 romanians, I am not sure whether it was an attempted blurgary, or just a random attack. Nevertheless I ended up going to the hosptial, were I had to have emergency surgery, and received more that 30 stiches. Although this was unfortunate, I must praise and say that the Spanish doctors and nurses did take great care of me, and showed alot of concern for my well being as a foreigner.

Nevertheless after speaking with locals, police and detectives, I was assured that Romanians in Spain are great concern and problem for local authorities. It is sad to say the the beautiful city of Madrid is plagued by Romanian theft, Romanian prostitution, and vicious attacks to foreigners, such as my self.