The main purpose of this article is to present the results of a research project on the political participation of Latin American migrants in Andalusia mainly in the cities of Seville and Huelva. The project uses a broad concept of what political participation constitutes, including both civic practices and activities associated with conventional politics, and adopts a transnational perspective.
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It is based on 45 semi-structured interviews with politically active migrants and members of political parties and other institutions. The article highlights some of the main findings of the research, including the importance of taking into account migrants' previous political experiences, as well as the role played by migrant associations in order to better understand their political practices.
Keywords: political participation, civic participation, transnationalism, Latin Americans, Andalusia. The study of international migration in Spain has advanced enormously over the past two decades, paralleling the growth of immigration. In addition to research on broader issues, such as the nature of migration flows and the main features of the most numerous nationalities, the issues generally studied are largely concerned with the socio-economic integration of migrants, in relation to their participation in the labor market for example or the educational system Gil, ; Tornos and Aparicio, However, insofar as the immigration phenomenon has been conceived of as something permanent, other aspects, such as political rights of migrants and their full participation in the host society, have gained prominence.
This has been true of both social movements, such as the political rights of migrants "I live here, I vote here", and regarding the development of research on this subject linking civic-political participation and discussions on citizenship Aparicio, ; De Lucas, , ; De Lucas et al. However, the current context, as noted by De Lucas , portends "Difficult times for political integration and the consideration that migrants must have access to citizenship and political rights". The risk in this regard is twofold, as the current situation may not only silence the discussions that had begun to emerge from various spheres demanding the political inclusion of migrants, but could also place this issue in the background, both socially, politically and academically, given what are conceived of as "The real needs of migrants" and citizens in general De Lucas, However, it is precisely at this time that the debates on the political participation of migrants should be given a more prominent role, since this is one of the most vulnerable groups in society and political exclusion does little to ensure that their needs are taken into account Morales and Giugni, The purpose of this article is to present some findings of a study on the political participation of Latin American migrants in Andalusia.
Among the main questions put forward in the research are: who are the migrants participating, in which areas do they do so and how, what factors promote or hinder this participation and how are local and transnational practices linked? Given the importance of regional contexts, the research focused in Andalusia, although field work was mainly undertaken in the cities of Seville and Huelva, in recognition of the importance of the local scale in integration processes.
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Latin American migration 2 was chosen because of its numerical importance, and because of the possibility of investigating the political participation of a group that has relatively easy access to Spanish nationality, and thus to full political rights. The research was qualitative and exploratory, its main objective being to contribute to theoretical and scientific knowledge on this topic and to provide data to help design strategies and policies that foster more inclusive citizenship.
The theoretical and conceptual framework is explained in the following section. This is followed by brief methodological notes and an analysis of some of the main results of the study. The text ends with a number of conclusions. This study adopts the view that migrants are "political actors", not merely objects of study or passive recipients of public policies Pero, ; Pojmann, Second, it uses a concept of broad, multidimensional political participation beyond the electoral arena that includes both "conventional" formal and "unconventional" informal civic participation Barnes et al.
Since the study was designed to explore the different ways in which migrants are involved, it was decided to record both practices related to electoral or representative politics participation in elections and political parties, contacts with political or institutional representatives, etc. The authors are also interested in both actions voting, leading or belonging to a party or an association , and political perceptions and views. Third, to better understand the factors that help or hinder this participation, the "micro" individual , "meso" organizations and "macro" political opportunities structure levels have been taken into account.
Lastly, a transnational perspective was adopted.
This considers that migrants operate in social fields that transcend geographic, political and cultural borders Glick-Schiller, Basch, and Szan-ton Among the latter we would include not only "The various forms of direct cross-border participation" electoral, cooperation with political parties or civil society organizations, etc. The difference between regular and occasional practices was also considered in the description of the levels of political participation Guarnizo, Portes, and Haller, Socioeconomic and political differences among the different regions in Spain the Autonomous Communities , as well as in the migratory contexts, mean that the regional dimension in the study of the political participation of migrants is extremely important.
To date, the research undertaken in this respect has focused mainly on three of the Autonomous Communities that have received the largest number of migrants, Madrid, Catalonia and Valencia particularly in the cities of Madrid and Barcelona Anduiza et al. These studies have highlighted issues such as the importance of political contexts and local and regional public policies in understanding the political incorporation of migrants into a particular geographical sphere and the role played by migrant associations in this process.
The Autonomous Community of Andalusia has attracted less attention from researchers. Although some studies about migrants in this region have dealt with the issues of migrant electoral participation for those who can vote, which until recently included only E. The field work comprised activities in several provinces, but since this was an exploratory study, interviews with migrants and representatives of institutions were mainly carried out in the cities of Seville and Huelva, although some of the organizations studied were active at the regional level and not just locally.
This approach enabled the authors to analyze the influence of both the local and regional dimension and to use a comparative analysis perspective between two different local contexts, and between Andalusia and other Autonomous Communities in Spain.
International migration to Andalusia has followed a similar pattern to the rest of Spain, growing extremely quickly in the late s and early s. However, there are some noticeable regional particularities. Firstly, the growth of immigration in Andalusia has been slower than in other regions. Secondly, flows to this community have been quite varied, initially comprising mainly returnees, as well as retirees from northern Europe. These flows were subsequently supplemented by the bulk of current immigration, formed mainly by economic migrants from Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe Rinken, The foreign population is roughly equally divided between E.
In early in Andalusia, there were approximately Latin American nationals, 3 just over half of whom are women, Seville being one of the provinces with the highest rate of feminization. As for the type of immigration, it is mainly labor migration, with a majority of migrants belonging to the year age group. The data also show that these migrants have relatively high educational attainments; a majority have completed high school and a significant percentage have higher education OPAM, Lastly, it is important to note that the two host contexts chosen, at both the provincial and local level, are quite different.
As regards methodology, a qualitative approach was chosen to allow us analyze not only migrant political practices, but also their representations, as well as perceptions and political views. Field-work was conducted in , with a total of 45 semi-structured interviews, half of which were conducted with migrants and half with representatives of pro-migrant organizations, trade unions, political parties, local government and provincial administration, neighborhood associations and so on.
In order to reflect the diversity of types and degrees of activism, rather than selecting a statistically representative sample, it was decided to include migrants who participated politically in some way through political parties, migrant associations, NGOS, etc. People were contacted using the "snowball" technique, with the help of migrant associations, institutional actors and host country organizations. Observations were also undertaken on the basis of participation in activities organized by associations and other institutions.
The profiles of the migrants interviewed are as follows:. Respondents were mainly of Colombian, Ecuadorian and Bolivian origin, accounting for the largest national groups within the Latin American community in Andalusia.
Many already held dual nationality or were in the process of acquiring a Spanish passport, a factor that would facilitate formal political participation for example by voting in the host country. The sample included more men 13 than women 10 ; the proportion of female respondents being larger in Seville than Huelva. The age of respondents ranged from the very young in their 20s to 60, but most were between 30 and 50 years old and had high levels of formal education.
The vast majority are married or have steady partners in many cases the partner is Spanish and children. Length of residence varies. The sample ranged from migrants who had lived in Andalusia for over 30 years, and were therefore among the first Latin Americans to arrive, to others that are part of the larger flows that began to arrive from None had been in Spain less than two years, which is understandable since it is assumed to take some time to become active in the civic or political sphere, although this is not always the case.
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Reasons for migration are also extremely varied. Respondents included those who came to Spain to study or join their families or partners, as tourists or in search of adventure, for professional reasons or to escape political violence. Only a few said that they had migrated to improve their financial situation, although in many cases, a combination of reasons was given.
Representatives of organizations and institutions in the host society interviewed included members of the main political parties, trade unions, neighborhood associations, consumer associations, pro-migrant organizations and government local, provincial and regional. The type of political participation of the migrants interviewed and their degree of activism is quite varied, and includes more "formal" or "informal" local and transnational activities, conducted on a regular or sporadic basis. In many cases, the types, levels and orientation of this participation are mixed or alternate, at both the individual level and within organizations.
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This section is not intended as an exhaustive description of the various research findings, and instead highlights some of the key elements that facilitate or constrain migrants' political participation. It begins with an analysis of the individual dimension and emphasizes the importance of migrants' political capital as a factor explaining participation. It then examines the meso level, briefly exploring the associative world of migrants as a vehicle for local and transnational political incorporation.
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Lastly, it analyzes the constraints and opportunities that structure political participation in the countries of destination and origin. At least six people were interviewed individually, three women and three men, with fairly regular active participation, either as members or with positions within several Spanish political parties 5 or in their countries of origin a representative of a Colombian political party. Many other respondents declared that they were sympathizers of a particular party and that they have attended meetings or participated in election campaigns more sporadically.
The rest of the migrants engaged in less conventional political practices, through pro-migrant and migrant organizations grouping Colombian, Ecuadorian, Bolivian, Argentine, or Latin American migrants in general , unions, churches, neighborhood associations, and other public institutions as well as the local administration. Apart from the individual characteristics usually taken into account to explain political participation, such as gender, age, social class or educational attainment Morales, , as well as other factors affecting migrants, such as length of residence or legal status, it was found that a crucial element for understanding whether or not migrants are involved politically and how, is the political capital they bring with them, as a result of the context of origin and their previous experiences.
Thus, it was found that many of the migrants had been politically involved in their country of origin, came from families with significant levels of political activism or had at least been interested in politics before migrating. This is particularly true in the case of those who had emigrated for political reasons one Colombian and one Salvadoran respondent and a Bolivian woman. Sometimes their participation in the host country constitutes a continuation of what they had in their country of origin, such as engaging in activities to denounce or defend human rights at the transnational level.
This is the case of Mario, 6 a Colombian man forced to leave his country because of his family's political activities, who ended up working with an organization defending human rights in Colombia from Andalusia. In other cases, once they had arrived in the host society, migrants channeled their political practices into other fields. Cristian, a Salvadoran migrant who left his home country in the mids, explained that his arrival in Spain had allowed him to move away from more formal party politics and leftist activism, which had disappointed him, into playing instead a more active role in the trade union movement where he now lived, "Fighting for a living, which I know how to do, shoulder to shoulder with the workers".
In this case, skepticism about conventional politics as a result of his experiences in the country of origin, and his new position as a precarious worker in the host society, are factors that contributed to the change in orientation of his practices, although the intensity of his activism remained high. Another striking aspect is the combination of several types of political participation among migrant women.
Although the literature usually emphasizes lower levels of female political activism, and its concentration in informal or civic practices, Latin American women have considerable political capital, reflected in their practices in the host society McIlwaine and Bermudez, This study observed how the political experiences of Latin American migrants in Andalusia are fairly varied. Irene arrived in Huelva in the mids, and although she had occasionally collaborated with a political party and in several election campaigns in her home country, once she arrived in Spain, she initially channeled her activism into a Latin American Association.
Later, as she became integrated into the work force and society, she began to participate more actively in a union and a political party, because, as she herself says, "I like politics". After passing through several Latin American destinations, she and her family arrived in Spain and ended up in Andalusia, where her husband became engaged in more cultural issues, while she became more politicized, eventually becoming an active member of a local political party: "When I met my husband, he was already a student leader and I was just finishing school when you're not quite sure what's going on Despite the importance of political capital, as has already been pointed, the authors also found migrants who had become politically involved for the first time in the host country, as in the case of Pilar, a resident of Seville who was active in a union.
From her perspective, the reasons that led her to become involved in this way were the difficulties she encountered as a migrant. Content Types text Carrier Types volume online resource Physical Description xi, pages : illustrations ; 24 cm. Subjects International relations. Latin America -- Foreign relations. Colombia -- Foreign relations.
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