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Spain’s Jobless Find It Hard to Go Back to the Farm
PUERTO SERRANO, Spain — During Spain’s construction boom, Antonio Rivera Romero happily traded long hours and backbreaking labor in the fields for the better-regulated building trades, earning four times as much as a bricklayer. He took out a mortgage and enlarged his house on a quiet side street in this small city in southern Spain.
Lourdes Segade for The New York Times
Now, with the construction jobs gone, Mr. Rivera is behind on his bank payments and eager to return to the farmwork he left behind.
But Spaniards have been largely shut out of those jobs. Those bent over rows of strawberries under plastic greenhouse sheeting or climbing ladders in the midday sun are now almost all foreigners: Romanians, Poles, Moroccans, many of them in Spain legally.
“The farmers here don’t want us,” Mr. Rivera said with a defeated shrug.
Local officials and union leaders say Mr. Rivera has it right. Farmers have been reluctant to take Spanish workers back — unsure whether they will work as hard as the foreigners who have been picking their crops, sometimes for a decade now.