Desperation, Tragedy and Criminal Coverage that Distort the Media Image of Population Movement
Jose Miguel Calatayud
Up to the early 1970s Spain was a country where the migration story concerned political and economic exiles and emigrants who left Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. The trend began to reverse from the mid-1980s, when now democratic Spain joined the European Union (EU), and mostly from the 1990s, when, already richer, it started to receive more and more economic migrants from Latin America, northern Africa and Some parts of Europe.
However, this evolving and complex phenomenon has been translated into Spain into a much more simplistic media discourse dominated by two stories. The first and most graphic is that of desperate Sub Saharan Africans either trying to climb the walls separating the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla from Morocco, or being rescued from drifting, overcrowded dinghies in the Atlantic or in the Mediterranean. Saharan Africans make up only 3.95% of all foreigners in Spain. This is the fact that almost all migrants arrive in Spain by regular and legal means, and that sub Saharan Africans make up only 3.95% of all foreigners in Spain.
And the second is about some of these migrants already living in Spain being associated with criminal activities. These mostly relate to Moroccan men linked to drug trafficking or other misdemeanors, Romanian gangs participating in organized crime, or Latin American youth gangs committing acts of violence.