June 8, 2006


A Global Village in Spain: Town Tries to Stem Dwindling Population by Recruiting Foreigners to Relocate (John Ward Anderson, 6/08/06, Washington Post)

The woman who runs the city hall cafe in this remote Spanish hill community is a Romanian. Down the road, Italians and Argentines make electric cables in a small factory. The local school is bustling with foreign-born children, who make up more than a third of the students.

While much of Western Europe shuns immigrants, this town seeks them. They are seen as key to reversing a decades-long drop in population that has brought slow death to so many other Spanish villages as residents fled to the cities for a better life.

That haunting prospect is on display just six miles from here in the hamlet of Las Parras de Castellote, transformed into a semi-ghost town with one bar, no children and 78 residents, most over age 60.

Determined to avoid such a fate, Mayor Luis Bricio dug into his own pocket in April 2000 and flew 6,300 miles to Buenos Aires with a novel idea: recruit new residents for his town. A Buenos Aires radio station reported on his journey, and an amazing thing happened: 7,000 Argentines lined up to hear Bricio's sales pitch. The next year he went to Romania and did the same thing.

Today, instead of a town that's sinking and shrinking, Bricio runs one he feels has a future: a growing economy, 34 new homes and 701 people, up from 598 six years ago thanks to an influx of foreigners.

You hear folks on the Left fret about the recent resurgence of nativism and how enuous the position of immigrants is, but the reality id that they're going to be so much in demand as European and Asian nations succumb to demographic inevitability that they'll be able to write their own tickets.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 8, 2006 11:46 PM

It's fine if the Spanish want to invite people to move into their dying villages, but if that village and others like it fail to thrive, perhaps it's because the world has moved on and quaint little villages can't survive in the 21st century except as vacation homes or tourist attractions.

The immigrants will in time also seek a better life in the cities just as their native-born sons and daughters did.

Posted by: erp at June 9, 2006 8:55 AM

The opposite is happening here.

Posted by: oj at June 9, 2006 8:59 AM

I have an intense dislike of large cities. Unward to suburbia! I just need a broadband internet connection and I'm all set.

Posted by: Jay at June 9, 2006 9:31 AM

Italians and Argentinians have a common language w/the Spanish.

It would be interesting what they require of the Romanians.

Posted by: Sandy P at June 9, 2006 9:49 AM

Note that these people were recuited to move there, jumping through all of Spain's immigration hoops. They didn't self-invite themselves and ignore any Spanish laws that got in their way during the process.

(Romanian is a Romance language, not Slavic.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at June 9, 2006 11:29 AM

Language isn't culture.

Posted by: oj at June 9, 2006 11:58 AM

Immigrants want to come here because ours isn't a dying culture.

Posted by: erp at June 9, 2006 1:17 PM