The lack of professional and personal prospects, social conflict, and an illegal business that makes a lot of money. This is the situation in many cities in the south of Spain, including La Línea, in Cádiz, where youth unemployment stands at around 70%.
It is not a new phenomenon. “Youth violence and crime are strongly linked to the lack of jobs and to the school dropout rate”, according to the director of the ILO in Latin America, José Manuel Salazar. A region that is deeply familiar with the connection between youth unemployment and organised crime. In Spain, the situation has become untenable in areas such as La Línea or the Campo de Gibraltar, where even people involved in drug trafficking benefit from an atmosphere of collusion with society.
This is not surprising when you realise that if an operation goes well, spotters can earn from 1,000 to 2,000 euros; the ‘paqueteros’ (package handlers) from 2,000 to 3,000 euros, and the skippers of the drug-running high-speed boats and the drivers of the SUVs, around 30,000 euros. Easy money that young people often find difficult to reject and that has even made one of the major trade unions of the Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) warn that these organisations have “legions of young people” cooperating in their criminal activities. “These people can pay salaries that not even a multinational business could pay their executives”, said a representative of the Unified Association of Civil Guards (AUGC).
Even the Minister of the Interior, Juan Ignacio Zoido, announced a few days ago that police reinforcements were being made available after recent incidents. But the minister warned that the arrival of new police officers had to go hand-in-hand with a plan of action to reduce the high rates of youth unemployment in the area. The Social Platform of Campo de Gibraltar shares this view and demanded an improvement in safety in the area linked to an overall plan to respond to the existing social issues.
What is certain is that this is a situation that seems to have become deeply rooted in part of the population of Algeciras, since it is estimated that up to 3,000 people are directly or indirectly related to these activities. Many of them are young people who have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.