Spain is a country of immigrants. The Colombian, Ecuadorian and Argentine community in different periods and, more recently, the Venezuelan, are making their way into a country where they share a common language whose nuances, sometimes, can lead to misunderstandings.
Its presence is notable and the Casa de América in Madrid this week inaugurated the initiative Here is here , a space in which renowned Latin American figures who have lived in Spain for years tell in the first person what it has been like to leave their cities of origin, settle down in another country and, at the same time, maintain ties with their roots.
Colombia has been the first invited country. Actress Juana Acosta(Cali, 1976) participated in the round table dedicated to their country, together with Pilar Reyes, Editorial director of Alfaguara, journalist Julio Sánchez Cristo and film director Sergio Cabrera.
Known in Spain for participating in series such as Police, in the heart of the street , Central Hospital , Velvet and numerous films, the interpreter – who achieved fame at a very young age in her country – arrived almost 20 years ago as an unknown and had to start zero.
“When I arrived in Spain the exodus was enormous: 600 Colombians entered a day, it was outrageous. After that changed, in Colombia the situation began to improve and many people decided to return, “he says. Even so, Colombians top the list of the foreign population residing in Spain: among Latin American countries they exceed 203,000, according to official data.
Two decades have passed, but he assures that he always carries Colombia in his heart, preserves his family traditions and travels whenever he can. A love that he has transmitted to his daughter Lola. “Diversity opens the mind,” he says.
The truth is that I can only say good things. I have had a very positive experience, obviously it is never easy to start in a country that is not your own or to find a place in your profession. I cannot tell you that everything has been rolled, it has taken me many years to get to the point where I am now, it has been an ant job, a long time. It has been a slow road.
R. The first handicap I had was the accent, because here there are still few Latin American characters. I think now it’s starting to open up a little more, but when I arrived they were the most stereotyped: the prostitute, the mule [drug carrier], a porn actress… And I did all of them, I learned a lot from everyone and they made me grow as an actress.
A. Yes, over the years they gave me characters from the scientific police, I was a teacher at a nursery … and others, but always as a Colombian, not with a Spanish accent. We Latin Americans are part of Spanish society and it is essential that this integration be reflected. I do believe that in the collective unconscious that is beginning to change and I see that in the characters they offer me.
A. No, never. Each person’s experience is individual and different from that of the other, in my case I have felt that this country has opened its doors for me in a very generous way. Madrid is one of the most fascinating cities in the world, I think it is a city that embraces the foreigner, that welcomes. I have never felt rejected for being a foreigner, for being a Colombian.
R. I almost had to make a change in my vocabulary so that people would understand me. In small nonsense, but Spanish is always much drier, more direct. Latin Americans, and especially Colombians, we think about things much more. I have had to make absolute changes in the way I communicate, to get closer, but keeping my essence and what I carry in my DNA: that I am Colombian, Latin American and nowadays I am Spanish too.
R. It has been a process in which I have gone through many phases. I am lucky to have my mother in Spain with me and that has given me life, but I do confess that for many moments I have had the feeling of not being from here or there. That I already left there, and I lost a bit of that reality, and of not finishing for a while to find my place here, feeling a bit in a no-man’s-land.