The other Spaniards

Rafael Puyol. Professor. IE Business School

2 June 2009

The increase in immigration carving a new ethnic map of Spain comprised of the many different attributes of the foreigners who apply for Spanish nationality.

At the beginning of the 1960s, Francisco Candel published a book that became very popular. The title was Los otros catalanes (The other Catalans), and it was about immigrants from other parts of the country that moved to Catalonia.
Today, for Spain as a whole, we can still talk of “other Spaniards", those people who fall into a category that lies somewhere between local inhabitants and foreigners.

Many people see immigrants as foreigners, which is incorrect because there are a few differences. Foreigners are people who live in our country but do not hold Spanish nationality. The term immigrants encompasses all those who have come to Spain from abroad and either keep their original nationality, in which case they may be considered as foreigners, or, after a time, they acquire Spanish nationality. The latter make up the majority of "other Spaniards".

Over the last 17 years around 380,000 inhabitants have obtained Spanish nationality on the grounds of residency. This is the most common procedure and is used largely by applicants who are only required to demonstrate two years of residency to obtain their new identities. In 2007, 70% of “new Spaniards” fell into this category, the vast majority being from Latin America, followed by Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, accompanied by a number of Sephardi Jews. Of course, many of them have dual nationality, but the fact that they have applied for Spanish nationality shows their commitment to integration in the host society, and a respect for its values, its laws and the sharing of rights and obligations with other citizens.

However, there are also “other Spaniards” who, although fewer in number, have joined the country. These are the children who have been adopted in foreign lands (China, the Ukraine, Ethiopia and other states) and they number between 4,000 and 5,000 every year. "Other Spaniards", both adults and children, contribute to the ethnic fabric of Spain, and the growing diversity of its citizens. We have now outgrown the model based on Jews, Moors and Christians.

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