More than 52,000 Venezuelans currently reside in Tenerife, representing 5% of the island’s population and almost 50% of the foreigners (132,000) who live on it, although many of them, as returnees, have dual Spanish-Venezuelan nationality. Venezuelans are by far the first Latin American community to Tenerifefar ahead of Colombians and Ecuadorians, and reside mainly in two large areas, the metropolitan area (Santa Cruz-Laguna) and in San Isidro, in Granadilla de Abona.
In ten years, after Nicolás Maduro came to power, the arrival of Venezuelans to the Canary Islands has doubled and many of them, with or without Canarian origins, have arrived under the umbrella of asylum or international protection, a process that is not always fulfilled. complaint Marcela Máspero, president of the social association Venezuelan Solidaritycreated three years ago by this well-known trade unionist who was president of the National Union of Workers (Unete) and national coordinator of the workers’ movement of the Voluntad Popular (VP) party until she went into exile in Spain in 2018.
The creation of Solidaridad Venezuela was created in 2020 when Marcela Máspero lived in Granadilla and its main task is to offer “awareness raising, information to the general population, promotion of actions and implementation of programs and activities with Venezuelan migrants, refugees and asylum seekers” .
The association today has an office in La Laguna and a multidisciplinary team to support immigrants from any country and located not only in the Canary Islands but also in Europe. “What at first was raised as the need to help, train and legally advise people linked to Venezuela, on an island like Tenerife where family and social ties with this country have been and are so close, has been extended to other parts of the Spanish geography thanks to delegations in different provinces, and now all migrants are covered and attended to regardless of their nationality”.
Marcela Máspero insists on valuing counseling for immigrants “for the benefit of the Canary Islands itself, by preventing migrants from falling into the underground economy, because unfortunately there are many Latin American women who work as caregivers and dependents who do so in B, not to say in black”.
Currently, this association develops an annual project thanks to a grant from the Cabildo, which has allowed the hiring of six people, including a lawyer and a Social Services technician, for the development of the functions of this association, and which has already allowed attend to more than a hundred people, who have required help for a variety of procedures such as the asylum application itself, appointment with foreigners, registration for exams and validation, and who are even provided with notes and study material. But Máspero warns that “we have verified the little diligence of the Consulate in these procedures and unfortunately there are many city councils that do not comply with the letter of the BOE on the registration, and on many occasions because the immigrant needs a residence, which gives rise to they create mafias with housing, as is happening, unfortunately in San Isidro”, he points out, just the week in which the lawyer Loueila Mint El Mamy gave a workshop, thanks to the Fundec foundation of the Cabildo de Tenerife, on “registration and foreigners”, in addition to a conference on other administrative regularization procedures, such as education, residence and health care, as well as legal and legal advisory services. In this case, emphasis is placed on the need to register, to obtain the possibility of attending training courses, which are free, and improve employability. “The problem is that not everyone can be guided,” emphasizes Marcela Máspero.
“In addition -explains Máspero- we have had many complaints about the refusal of the health centers of San Isidro and Granadilla to attend to immigrants, because they are being denied health care”, recalling that they can obtain the DNI, if they are descendants of returned canaries, in a month or achieve residence with the passport. “After many months of coordinated efforts, we are happy to have managed to create this benefit with the support of the Cabildo de Tenerife”, highlights Máspero, recalling that “the association is made up of migrants from Venezuela, where Canarian migration was fundamental in its day to build the country and now the islands become recipients of returnees and migrants who require support for their regularization and contribute to the growth of Tenerife and help, for example, to pay pensions”.
From the rich to the refugee
For Marcela Máspero, who became a candidate for the National Assembly in 2015 for the state of Miranda, there are two distinct stages in Venezuelan immigration to Spain. “About ten years ago, those who left the country were Venezuelans with resources, who came to buy properties, now we are in a second stage where women with children and without papers preferentially come. First they come and then, if they can, they bring the older ones, who have stayed to take care of the grandchildren, ”she points out.
More than Ukraine or Syria, and without a war in between: almost seven million Venezuelans have been forced to leave their country in the last decade, according to the 2022 report of the Spanish Commission for Refugee Assistance (CEAR). A decade ago, there were 60,000 Venezuelans in Spain. Today, the figure exceeds 410,000. For six years, Venezuela has been the country of origin that has made the most asylum requests to Spain. Coinciding with the political crisis and the economic crisis that has plagued the Caribbean country since 2013, the Government of Spain approved in 2019 a law that grants residence for humanitarian reasons to Venezuelans who do not meet the conditions to obtain asylum. With more than 63,000 registered Venezuelans, Madrid is their preferred destination, followed closely by Barcelona and Tenerife.
Marcela Máspero, from trade unionist to a solidarity association
Marcela Máspero stands out for her work in the union area. She was president of the National Union of Workers (Unete) and ran for the National Assembly elections in 2015. In 2018 she went into exile in Spain and returned to Venezuela on April 28, 2022 to meet with ILO representatives and advance in the release of imprisoned workers. In 2020 she created the association Solidaridad Venezuela in Tenerife, at the regional level.