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(E) Repopulate Rural Croatia?
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  06/20/2003 | Community | Unrated
(E) Repopulate Rural Croatia?


Repopulate Rural Croatia?


Hey Everyone!

I found this interesting article on the Internet, and I remember reading some articles about renewing the economies of the Islands in the Jadran. I'm wondering if there is any formal organization in Croatia trying to bring people back to the islands (or any other rural areas) to restart the their local economies. Does anyone know?


Rural Spain welcomes immigrants
By Michael Voss
BBC correspondent in Aguaviva, Spain

Much of the current debate in Europe over immigration focuses on how to limit numbers.

But in parts of rural Spain, where many villages are in decline because of depopulation, attracting immigrants is seen as a life-saving solution.

Until recently, the village of Aguaviva was a community in decline. It lies in the desolate hills of Teruel, one of Spain's poorest provinces.

For years, the young had fled to find work in the cities. Only the old remained.

Yet today the village school is alive to the sound of children. Pupil numbers have doubled, an extra teacher has been taken on.

The reason why the school is thriving is that the village decided to boost its population by attracting immigrants from abroad.

Initially they turned to South America, advertising in newspapers in Argentina, offering free flights and a job for families with children willing to live and work here.


Now, less than half the pupils in one pre-school class are Spanish - the rest are immigrants from South America and Eastern Europe.

According to their teacher, they all get on well together.

"I'm really surprised at how well the children from Aguaviva have taken to the immigrants," she said.

"I think each local child has a close personal friend who has come from another country. There aren't separate groups, they all mix together very well."

The Martinez family were the first immigrants in Aguaviva, arriving from the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, three years ago.

Marcelo Martinez said violent crime and a collapsing economy persuaded him to give up a struggling small business to become a school bus driver.

His wife, Gilda Mazzeo, still speaks with emotion about how well they were received.

"There were families who took us in and treated us as one of their own, as family," she said. "For us at least it's been a positive experience. We feel wanted and loved."

Difficult transition

But not everyone has adapted so well.

Most of the work on offer is on construction sites.

Initially, the village recruited from Argentina in the hope that speaking Spanish would help make integration easier. Many though came from big cities and have since left, unable to handle village life.

Luis Bricio is the mayor of Aguaviva. It was his idea to save the community through immigration.

"We made a big mistake because successful integration doesn't depend on the language, nor is it guaranteed by a shared Hispanic heritage," he said.

"What really matters is the work ethic and that the skills they come with match the sort of jobs we can offer here.

"In many ways, the East Europeans have adapted better than the South Americans."

Many of the more recent arrivals are from small Romanian communities and appear to be settling well.

Now word has spread and the village of Aguaviva has become headquarters for a national association to repopulate rural Spain.


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