November 21, 2022

4 younger males from Senegal promote bracelets in Madrid on October 20.

Ricci Shryock for NPR

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Ricci Shryock for NPR

4 younger males from Senegal promote bracelets in Madrid on October 20.

Ricci Shryock for NPR

In components of Madrid, the blanket can result in imprisonment for Senegalese avenue distributors referred to as manteros.

They promote counterfeit items that sit on manti, Spanish for blankets. They usually do not have work visas and are harassed by the police, however they will make somewhat more cash promoting fakes.

The character of their work is extremely seen and on any given day you possibly can see manteros on the streets of Madrid attempting to persuade vacationers to purchase one among their luggage.

The dangers are excessive and the rewards are low. And a few manteros work for years, ready for visas and work papers.

Hearken to our full report by clicking the play button above.


Migration is as previous as humanity, and local weather change is exacerbating the necessity for individuals to relocate. All Issues Thought of host Ari Shapiro talked concerning the connection between local weather change, migration and the political far proper on a journey many have traveled from Senegal to Morocco to Spain. Immediately, Ari talks concerning the first job many individuals from Sub-Saharan Africa take once they arrive in Europe.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: If you speak to individuals in Senegal about Spain, you generally see a dreamy look on their faces.

MAMADU NYANG: (by translator) If you go to Europe, for those who get sick, you possibly can go to the physician.

SHAPIRO: In a Senegalese village known as Gandiol, a person named Mamadou Niang advised us that he tried 3 times to get to Europe. He was deported twice. For the third time, his boat capsized and among the passengers drowned. However even that did not cease him. He nonetheless needs to go away.

NYAN: (by way of interpreter) Sure, I want to go to make good cash and have a pleasant home.

SHAPIRO: He imagines Europe as a spot of stability and safety, a spot the place you possibly can earn sufficient cash to help your kinfolk at residence. Greater than 2,000 miles north, in Madrid’s Plaza Mayor, you possibly can see the gulf between the fantasy of Spanish life and actuality.

We roam downtown searching for manteros, individuals who promote issues constituted of blankets. And it is actually arduous to search out them as a result of they’re all the time operating from the police. So speaking to those guys on tape is difficult, however not as arduous as residing that life the place you are always afraid of getting caught and arrested.

Manteros are named after manta rays, the blankets on which they unfold issues to promote. Their typical stock consists of pretend designer luggage, tennis footwear, sun shades. The whole lot is laid out on a blanket. Lengthy ropes tied to all 4 corners assist you escape shortly. So if the police present up, the manteros can flip their manta right into a sack over their shoulder like Santa Claus and run away.

KIFFI: Whats up.

SHAPIRO: Whats up, how are you?

Kiffy is 27 years previous and from Senegal. We solely use his first title as a result of he doesn’t have a piece visa. He says manteros who promote counterfeit blankets can earn more money, however they tackle much more threat. So Kiffy sells African knick-knacks from a small fanny pack.

KIFFI: (by way of translator) These bracelets should not pretend.

SHAPIRO: So the police cannot arrest you for promoting bracelets. However for those who have been promoting pretend Dior luggage, you possibly can get arrested.

KIFFI: (by way of translator) Sure, I promote African issues. There isn’t a model, so it is okay.

SHAPIRO: Kiffy left residence in Senegal when he was 19 and traveled overland by half a dozen international locations earlier than reaching Spain.

You have not seen your loved ones for eight years. You should miss them terribly.

KIFFI: (by way of translator) Sure. Even in the present day I wish to return. I wish to see my mom. Eight years is so lengthy to not see your loved ones.

SHAPIRO: I am sorry. It is very, very tough, and I am sorry.

KIFFI: Sure, sure, sure.

SHAPIRO: He will not go residence till he will get the paperwork to enter Spain legally. This could occur in three years – a extra open coverage than within the US. However each time a mantero is arrested, it might flip again time.

One man simply handed by carrying – he was a mantero. He had a big sheet full of products on his again. And as he walked by, I mentioned (talking in French) are you a Senegalese? He yelled over his shoulder, oh sure, and ran away. And I attempted to chase him. He did not have any of that.

SERIN MBAY: (by way of interpreter) I used to be unfortunate: I used to be arrested the primary day I went out to promote issues.

SHAPIRO: That is the one who lastly bought his papers and now not has to run from the police. Serene Mbaye got here to Spain from Senegal in 2006. Throughout the years of the mantero, he was arrested 4 occasions. In any case, he helped manage the primary mantero collective in 2016.

Do you keep in mind the primary time you heard the phrase mantero?

MBAYE: (by way of interpreter) I bought to the principle station and I noticed them and I actually requested what’s it? They usually defined. And I knew that I must do it, as a result of that is the one job that may be achieved with out paperwork.

SHAPIRO: Do you keep in mind the sensation if you noticed it and realized it?

MBAYE: (by way of translator) Sure, I used to be very disenchanted. I assumed, is that this why I got here to this nation? This can’t be my future. However there’s nothing extra you are able to do.

And we’re all in the identical scenario. Subsequently, we maintain one another and assist one another.

SHAPIRO: Being a mantero was not Serine Mbaye’s final future. Immediately he’s a political chief, an elected official, and this has mobilized anti-immigrant politicians. On the day of Serine Mbaye’s swearing-in, Rocio Monasterio of the far-right political occasion Vox spoke at a normal assembly condemning the manteros.

ROSIO MONASTERIO: (Speaks Spanish).

SHAPIRO: The Manteros are mafia slaves who drive small companies into chapter 11, she mentioned. Proper-wing politicians proceed to assault him for his previous. However in the present day Serigne Mbaye is a member of the Madrid Meeting. His buddy advised us that he’s just like the Malcolm X of immigration in Spain. On the finish of this week we can have a narrative concerning the journey of Serin Mbaye.

RASCO: It was Ari Shapiro from NPR. You may learn extra about his reporting on local weather migration from Senegal to Spain on the All Issues Thought of web site. Tune into an NPR member’s native station or comply with their crew’s journey on

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