Photographers' Blog

Revisited – A new life in Germany

By Marcelo del Pozo

Over a year ago now, I was looking for a way to put a human face to the story of Spain’s unemployment crisis – a crisis that is still affecting the country today, with around one in four workers without a job.

GALLERY: A new life with 250 euros

I sent messages to lots of my friends, asking them if they knew any Spaniards thinking of emigrating to find employment. At last, I met Jose Manuel Abel, a former salesman from southern Spain, who, after being unemployed for two years, decided to learn some German and move to Munich for a job to help support his family.

Jose Manuel Abel (C), 46, has lunch with his wife Oliva Santos (L), 45, daughter Claudia (2nd L), 13, son Jose Manuel (R), 16 and mother Carmen Herrera, 71, in Chipiona in this June 28, 2012 file photograph. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo/Files

Jose Manuel Abel, 46, walks to his flight at San Pablo airport in Seville in this June 29, 2012 file photograph. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo/Files

I took pictures as Jose Manuel said goodbye to his wife and children, got on the plane and started work in a restaurant owned by a friend of his.

One year later, I decided to go back and see what had become of him.

In many ways, I found good news. Jose Manuel’s situation has really improved over the last year. He stopped working in the restaurant kitchen, but he managed to get a job with a company that runs a fruit and vegetable warehouse in the city.

Jose Manuel Abel (L), 47, and his colleague Omar arrange boxes as they work in a fruit and vegetable warehouse in Munich October 10, 2013. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

He now has a good position there with a permanent contract, he earns more money than he used to, and he speaks much better German.

The key to Greece’s economic crisis

By Yiorgos Karahalis

Mata Nikolarou, a jewellery shop owner in Athens, says she is not surprised that thousands of businesses in the capital have had to shut down.

“It was about time to happen. The market needed a clear off. Everyone in Greece had become a merchant, either by taking over their father’s shop or by taking out a cheap loan from the bank,” she said, explaining that most merchants had appeared out of the blue.

Almost a third of businesses and shops around the Greek capital have shut down over the last two years, as Greece’s crisis broke out and it agreed on a huge bailout package funded by the IMF and the European Union.

Spain’s pain

By Jon Nazca

SLIDESHOW: SPAIN’S AUSTERITY PAIN

I have taken a look back through the archives for the first pictures illustrating the crisis in Spain. It was a story about a protest of goat herders and farmers in Malaga in May 2008. They protested with their goats to demand measures from the government to solve the crisis they were facing.

Months later, Spanish truck drivers protested against the rising fuel costs paralyzing the country for several days.

Protests and demonstrations continued until the Spanish people woke up on May 15, 2011 with the 15-M movement, also known as The Indignants, protesting against the ongoing financial crisis, politicians and bankers. The Spanish Revolution began and with it came endless revolutionary images.

A new life with 250 Euros

By Marcelo del Pozo

It’s five o’clock in the morning and I find myself in a place and situation that I’m sure I shouldn’t be in, much less taking pictures.

Jose Manuel Abel, his wife Olive and their two children, Claudia, 13, and Jose Manuel, 16, were crying and hugging one another as they didn’t know when would be the next time they would see each other.

SLIDESHOW: NEW COUNTRY, NEW LIFE

Abel, from southern Spain, is one of a growing number of Spaniards moving to Germany for work after failing to find a job at home. He has to leave his wife and children behind for the time being, but sees no other choice. Abel, who used to work as a salesman during Spain’s boom years, selling insurance, books, water filters and vending machines, has been unemployed for more than two years. With about one in four people jobless, he sees few prospects working at home and has taken a job in Munich working in the kitchen of a Spanish restaurant owned by a Spanish-German friend.

In the eye of the Greek storm

By Yannis Behrakis


(View a slideshow of Yannis’ photos from the Greek financial crisis here)

In the past 20 months the Greek financial crisis has been one of the world’s top stories. Day in, day out words like, IMF, ECB, and Troika are mentioned as some of the most common words in my country. People who knew nothing about economics and had never heard of strange words like “spreads”, “haircut” and “bailout”, now seem to have become almost experts in financial matters. Everywhere you go in Greece people talk about the same issues — an upcoming default, the economic meltdown, the misery the unemployment, the rising prices, the possible loss of their deposits in banks if Greece goes back to its old currency, the drachma.

According to the latest polls, Greeks are the most unhappy people in Europe and it’s easy to see why. On the streets of my home town Athens, people don’t smile much, they argue a lot and on some days it seems that misery looms over the capital. If you add to that the terrible traffic jams caused by one or more protests that occur every single day, on top of the increased number of beggars, drug addicts, illegal immigrants and homeless, Athens seems in its worst shape ever. According to another study last year, the center of Athens was “closed” for 2-3 hours daily due to protests, resulting in, according to shop owners, a financial catastrophe for many in the once booming downtown Athens.

Spain’s spontaneous street revolution

What soon became known as “The 15M Movement” and its camped-out protesters labeled “The Indignant” caught me, and the rest of Spain, totally by surprise. As one demonstrator’s sign read “Nobody expected the Spanish Revolution” couldn’t have been more true! The surprise came not from the lack of a cause for protest, in a country in which the unemployment rate of 22% is the highest in Europe, but rather the spontaneity of the movement, its resolve to stick it out through weeks of massive outdoor camps in city squares across Spain and its ability to remain a largely peaceful demonstration.

Since the crisis began in Spain, photographer Andrea Comas covered press conferences by Spain’s Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, ministers announcing several major economic reforms, meetings between the main unions, employers and government, fighting between the ruling Socialists and the opposition Popular Party at Parliament, a trade union demonstration, a relatively weak general strike and, hardest of all, the unemployment lines. The economic numbers and unemployment were particularly devastating. And yet, out in the street nothing was happening. Far less happened than during the mass protests over the war in Iraq. But whoever you talked to, everyone was worried, tightening their belts and angry with the politicians and bankers.

Photographer Susana Vera recalled “On May 15, spring came and the ‘lost generation’ woke up. Like hibernating bears they stirred from their slumber with the first signs of sunshine and when they did, they took thousands along with them, all over Spain and from all walks of life. Mirroring the popular uprisings in the northern African countries these young Spaniards resorted to social networking to voice their worries over their bleak futures and their demands for real democracy. First, they marched together on May 15 in Spain’s main cities to demand a “Real Democracy” and to protest the government’s handling of the economic crisis. That same night, and spontaneously, they started camping out in packed squares in their tents and sleeping bags all across the country and vowed to camp out until the local and regional elections which were to be held on May 22.”