Increasing tension sees racist attacks on Costas

10th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

10 March 2005, MALAGA-New research suggests that expats who move to Spain's Costas are increasingly becoming disillusioned with what they hoped would be an idyllic existence.

10 March 2005

MALAGA-New research suggests that expats who move to Spain's Costas are increasingly becoming disillusioned with what they hoped would be an idyllic existence.

According to a Scottish social researcher, increasing tensions between Spaniards and expat Britons, seeking a new life in the sun on the Costas, have led to their children being the victims of racist taunts and attacks, the Scottish daily The Scotsman reports.

Thousands of expats who have made a new home in popular tourist resorts on the Costa del Sol are fuelling resentment by setting up businesses in competition with local people and pushing up property prices.

And, while thousands of British immigrants have absolutely no desire to mix with the local community, those that would like to are facing barriers to becoming fully integrated members of the communities in which they live.

The stark findings about the difficulties that Brits are facing in adjusting to a new life in Spain have been made by Dr Karen O’Reilly, a senior lecturer in the School of Social Science at Aberdeen University, following a two-year study of British migrants on the Costa del Sol.

Her detailed report reveals that social interaction between the majority of Brits and local Spaniards is virtually non- existent.

And the constant presence of what are locally termed as "residential tourists" is becoming a feature of everyday life for people in towns like Fuengirola and Mijas on the Costa del Sol and Alhaurin El Grande in Andalusia.

But the report also disturbingly reveals: "Poor integration has led to racism in some areas. Several children have experienced racism in schools and in the streets.

"Many of those in International School chose that option - even when the family could not really afford it - when they found they couldn’t settle in the state school.

"As a result of these various factors there is a rapid turnover of migrant pupils in the local schools."

Dr O’Reilly, speaking from Malaga, told The Scotsman: "All the children I spoke to in the International School had either experienced racism or they knew someone who had.

"They were being taunted in the street and called foreigners. Children were waiting for them on the street corners. And even the Spanish children at the school told me that if you hung around with British children you might get into trouble.

"There are some children who have been assaulted. But at the moment it is more about bullying and niggling between the children, rather than anything to do with adults."

She stressed: "I certainly wouldn’t want to say that Spanish people are racist towards British people or anything like that.

"But what worries me is the tension is beginning to show at the level of the children."

Dr O’Reilly continued: "The Spanish love having us all here on the one hand because it has boosted the economy and, generally, they like British people because they are lovely and polite.

"But there are growing tensions in the adult community as well because there are a lot of small businesses being set up and, while they are not taking the jobs of Spaniards, they might be taking the work.

"And the Brits are also pushing the property prices up so that young people here are finding it more difficult to buy their own home."

According to the report, there are more than 160,000 British citizens now living in Spain, with EU nationals accounting for up to one third of the populations of some tourist towns and villages.

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Subject: Spanish news

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