MADRID, Spain — I'm traveling to Greece right now to see the economic crisis and to report on this Sunday's election firsthand. I happen to have a three-hour layover in Madrid, so naturally I figured I'd take the opportunity to ask around, and see what the average Spaniard in the aiport thinks about the crisis.
Given Spain's famously high youth unemployment, I was curious what young people thought, so I talked to a group of eight high schoolers, all of whom were about to enter university.
A few girls spoke up for the entire group.
I was curious about their impression of Angela Merkel, who seems to be increasingly viewed as Europe's No. 1 villain. "Merkel is like our President. We do whatever she asks us to do," said one of the girls, named Rocio.
As for Spain's real head of state, PM Mariano Rajoy, there were immediate laughs and yells of "stupid" from the entire group. One of them, Cristina, was embarrassed that Rajoy didn't speak English (although he's apparently learning).
Every single one of the group said that they planned to leave Spain after university because "there are no jobs," and that they'd go to France, Germany or the US. As for their main concerns, they complained about money being taken away from hospitals and schools. Instead they would rather see government workers pay themselves less, and drive less nice cars. All of them all said it was their wish to stay in the euro zone, because they liked the advantages of travel, and going abroad easily.
For a slightly different perspective, I also talked to a group of doctors, who had just returned from traveling in the US.
They were all employed, as Ana (the female doctor in the picture) explained, they all suffered thanks to lower pay from the regional governments and more sharing of work among physicians.
"One year ago, Spain was [still] looking for doctors from Argentina, Ukraine, etc., " said Jose. Now there are doctors who are laid off.
The group was more calm about Merkel and Rajoy. "She's doing her job," said one. Rodrigo, the doctor in the purple shirt did call Rajoy a "puppet on a string."
Generally their scorn was more for the banks.
And finally, when asked about the future of the euro, all supported Greece, and they said they wanted to stay a team.
Said one of the doctors named Antonio on staying in the euro zone: "My heart says countries should leave.... my brain says that's not a good idea.
And now, my flight to Greece is boarding...
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