Accessibility links

Breaking News

Racism a Daily Nightmare for Many in Spain

FILE - Barcelona and Ajax's players pose with a baner against racism before the UEFA Champions League football match FC Barcelona vs Ajax Amsterdam at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on Oct. 21, 2014.

BARCELONA — A heated debate has been unleashed in Spain about the tolerance for racism following repeated racist insults against Brazilian football star Vinícius Júnior in a country that is becoming rapidly more diverse in every facet of Spanish life.

Many Black Spaniards - Spanish citizens of African descent- and foreigners of color living in Spain have long lamented about racist treatment in a society that has been home to significant non-white communities since the 1990s, and where they feel little action has been taken by lawmakers and police.

Abraham Jiménez Enoa, a Cuban writer who moved to Spain 16 months ago, has documented the daily episodes of racism he has suffered — 182 so far, including being followed around stores, asked for his ID on public transport and watching Spaniards compliment his lighter-skinned son.

"There’s a close-up of Vinícius in which you can see him suffering from what he is hearing and I really identified with that," Jiménez Enoa told the Associated Press.

"Obviously I’ve never been in a football stadium where thousands of people are shouting 'monkey!' but in the day-to-day.... A couple of times I have even cried from anger and frustration."

The insults hurled at Vinicius Junior during Real Madrid's recent game against Valencia resulted in three fans arrested, along with four men who, earlier this year, hung an effigy said to be Vinicius from a bridge.

While racism is also an issue in his native Cuba, Jiménez Enoa said he has "never suffered such explicit racism in the streets, in shops, in the market, wherever" as in Spain.

"I had never suffered from how my skin color marks everyday life," he said.

Recently, Jiménez Enoa said he was walking on the same sidewalk as a young couple when the man pulled the woman away to the side.

As he passed them he heard the man whisper to the woman "Better if you let him go in front because you never know who are the dangerous ones."

Far from support, Vinícius has found himself the object of condemnation from some Spanish football authorities.

Immediately following Sunday's incident, La Liga President Javier Tebas criticized the player for attacking the league, saying Vinicius didn’t show up for talks on the subject of racism that he himself had requested.

For Jiménez Enoa, the reaction to the racism suffered by the footballer says as much about racism in Spain than the attacks themselves.

While very upsetting, he's glad the latest incident has led to international outrage, including condemnation by Brazil's president Lula da Silva, and brought the issue of racism in Spain to the front pages.

"There are videos, there is proof, and there are the faces of all these people. They must be taken to court, all of them," Jiménez Enoa said.

"It's a crime."