We are often guilty of putting ourselves in the imaginary position of the dogs and the cats here, or even the bulls. So many pious remarks about how they are mistreated, or tied up, or end up facing a matador in his suit of lights. It’s a rare community that doesn’t have an animal protection society staffed by volunteers and we even have a political party, the PACMA, which currently enjoys the support of around 300,000 voters. Animals are without a voice and perhaps they need more protection, and a champion to defend them. Especially those poor superannuated hunting greyhounds.
Yes, maybe these are important points to raise, and perhaps it is true that the Spanish tend to have a different viewpoint from our own. We can even feel superior to our neighbours about our elevated care and love for our ‘four-footed friends’. We shall post something on Facebook about this, right away!
This generosity of spirit, however, is rarely extended to the African immigrants that walk among us, unseen. Most of them will have arrived here, in search of a (slightly) better life, having overcome the most terrible ordeals and threats. Many of them will never make it to the shores of this country, but will be drowned or murdered or incarcerated in the attempt, crossing first the countries of North Africa, and second, the Mediterranean sea.
Those who do manage to arrive in Spain may end up with a horrible job in the plastic farms of Almería and Murcia. Some others will be given trinkets to sell on the beach (the ‘looky-looky men’) or in the cities (the ‘manteros’) – with their produce lying on a sheet with string holding the four corners – ready for a quick getaway. They’ll sleep in squats, or in highly priced apartments, ten to a room. Maybe they can send a little money home to their families.
The police don’t like them much, and the shopkeepers don’t like them at all. However, a squab of hope, or at least dignity, comes from an association of these manteros in Barcelona, which has launched their own brand of clothes, called Top Manta, with ‘...the logo made up of two waves: one represents the materials used, the other the perilous maritime journeys many of the sellers undertook to reach Spain...’ (The Local here). We say: ‘Good for them’!