In the last decades we have witnessed
a fascinating phenomenon of intercultural transformation due to the new
technologies. Until some years ago, European immigrants who arrived in
America suffered from a banishment of their roots that led them to a cultural
and emotional uprooting many times. Our migrants saw great difficulties
in postal communication and in writing. Speech over the phone was expensive
and full of difficulties.
We now see Latin American and African immigrants with their cell phones
communicating with each other in different parts of Spain. This allows
them to maintain their traditions and to have information about centers
and about better working conditions. It is common to see how they get
together during the weekends in parks and places of encounter to share
their traditional food, listen to their music and exchange valuable information.
Those who leave take firsthand information on working conditions, shelter,
healthcare, education and social relations that falter the proliferation
of fantasies, or the criminal activities of people without qualm.
The majority of Latin American female immigrants used to be hired as domestic
workers. This guaranteed them a home and avoided some spending, which
allowed them to pay back the enormous debt they acquired with the airfare
from home. Little by little, they have been renting apartments that they
share with family and friends and go to work for hours in different jobs.
They live in their traditional atmosphere, make use of the improvements
that the local society gives them and they count on a free time that facilitates
leisure, learning a profession, or obtaining supplementary incomes while
charging for the hour.
We have gotten used to see multitudes of South Americans speaking on the
public phones and in popular calling centers during hours and days that
offer special prices. The most interesting step is to prove there are
computer centers where they learn, at the same time as we do, to get along
and to participate in chats with their family and friends.
This is a sociological phenomenon with formidable consequences. Immigrants
keep their family bonds, the affective and social ones with their communities.
This blocks their uprooting. They use modern systems to send their savings
without the need of going through banking institutions or by any other
intermediaries. Money does not longer go from here to there with the need
of trusting risky travellers. Immigrants get along efficiently with the
techniques of clearing and of the compensations in their accounts. At
last, they make good use of the advantages of globalization, which, until
now, had only benefited large financial groups.
A fact with unimaginable consequences is taking place: immigrants have
become authentic correspondents for their country in Europe. Their messages
have more reliability and they use a more authentic language that the
one media use. Many Latin American communities are better informed about
the European reality than in many places of Spain.
Governments must facilitate this phenomenon as the best method of integration
to promote the mutual enrichment between people of cultures and ethnicities
that are so diverse. Then, a culture of responsibility will emerge. It
will be a culture of acknowledgement, rather that the blind attitude of
distrust and rejection that still exists between people who have lost
their sense of history.
There is another fact to which we must pay close attention. During decades,
Latin American people have been fascinated with the American Way of Life
that they got from Hollywood products, especially the movies. Later, it
was the television series that soon arrived in the orbit of Miami, Venezuela,
Mexico and Brazil, and they offered a spectacular world that, was, in
reality, out of reach. This created an enormous unrest because it was
a sharp contrast with their reality.
The authentic process of change is being produced among immigrants who
arrive in Europe and who can contrast reality with the fantasy that the
mass media offer. They can still be fascinated, like many Spaniards are,
but they are no longer at risk of confusing them with the reality that,
the person with a job and who accepts the rules of the game, becomes the
master of his or her own destiny. And this person has the same right to
enjoy the same privileges that the rest of the citizens enjoy.
A proof of this is the immigrant families who have kids that go to school
in the European countries that give them shelter. Within one generation,
sons reach the integration dreamt by their parents. Their signs of identity
are now enriched by the unquestionable advantages of cultural mestization.
Mestization keeps the dangers of xenophobia and racism away. Who would
not like to be neighbors with Michael Jordan, Zinedine Zidane, Tiger Woods,
Roberto Carlos, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry or Whitney Houston? It
is proved that it is not a matter of skin color, the curly hair or the
original ethnicity. It is rather the level of education, the social level
and the equality of opportunities. The food and the accent do not have
as much influence as the shared education, the games, leisure and the
dreams of a better and more just world full of solidarity.
Another fundamental and desirable aspect is to see the massive proliferation
of elderly people that one finds in parks and gardens taking a walk or
getting some sun next to a requested Bolivian or Ecuadorian, Peruvian
or Dominican friend who accompanies them. He or she talks to them, smiles
at them and offers his arm as a support, just like the sons and grandsons
used to do. This was way long before the consumerist wave that confuses
value with price and does not find the imposed productivity in the attention
of their grandparents. Immigrants are employees that help the elderly
recover the desire to live, like family members with trust and respect.
The old people receive their authentic grandchildren, when they visit,
like true members of the family. These immigrants do not only inform their
people and transmit our situation, which they admire in Latin America.
They also help us to recover some forms, values and a tenderness that
seemed to be forgotten.