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Cablegate: Spain: A Beacon of Economic Opportunity

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RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
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UNCLAS LA PAZ 002626

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/AND LPETRONI
COMMERCE FOR JANGLIN
TREASURY FOR SGOOCH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON SOCI BL
SUBJECT: SPAIN: A BEACON OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

REF: LA PAZ 2383

1. (U) Summary: For many Bolivians, Spain is a beacon of
economic opportunity. Newspapers highlight an upsurge in
travel, airlines report full flights to Madrid, and business
owners say skilled craftsmen are increasingly seeking work
abroad. Bolivians' desire to escape may reflect growing
political and economic uncertainty at home. End summary.

2. (U) Anecdotal and statistical evidence suggests that for
many Bolivians, Spain is a beacon of economic opportunity.
September 28 newspapers highlighted an upsurge in travel,
claiming that the number of people leaving for Madrid has
"quadrupled" since early September, when Spain's Minister of
Labor and Social Affairs, Jesus Caldera, reportedly expressed
support for a European Commission proposal to require
Schengen visas from Bolivian citizens (reftel). Spanish Vice
President Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega also raised the
issue during her August trip to Bolivia. Observers speculate
that fear of more restrictive entry requirements may be
prompting some Bolivians to make the trip sooner rather than
later.

3. (SBU) Bolivian airlines report full flights to Madrid -
from now until December. According to Jimmy Phillips,
Regional Sales Manager for Aerosur, one of Bolivia's
principal domestic carriers, soaring demand led the airline
to increase the number of weekly flights from two to three;
within a fortnight, executives decided to add two more weekly
flights from early October. Aerosur's major competitor,
Lloyd Aereo Boliviano, Bolivia's national carrier, will also
fly five times a week from next month; Lloyd Chief Executive
Franklin Taendler told Econoff September 28 that demand was
unprecedented, even with prices as high as $1,500 to $1,600
per ticket.

4. (U) Business owners, meanwhile, say skilled craftsmen are
increasingly seeking work abroad. An owner of a small
furniture manufacturer told the Charge September 23 that
employees frequently stayed just long enough to learn the
trade before leaving to look for better opportunities and
higher wages in Spain, where they believed their skills would
be in high demand and jobs relatively easy to find. Airline
executives report that Spanish immigration authorities refuse
only 5 percent of the estimated 2,100 people who apply for
entry each week.

5. (SBU) Comment: Bolivians' desire to escape may reflect not
only their fear of tighter entry requirements, but also
growing political and economic uncertainty at home. As
Bolivians lose faith in the GOB's ability to provide jobs,
some no doubt start to look outward - and Spain, with its
healthy economy, stable politics, and common language, is
increasingly one of Bolivians' preferred destinations. End
comment.
URS

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