Migrants, Multiculture

Latino-British Marriages

Latin emigration is fundamentally due to political and economic reasons. But there is another cause which allows these two ethnic groups to share the same stage and exchange cultural differences.

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Mario López-Goicoechea


The search for economic opportunities ranks among the main reasons why Latinos adopt the UK as their new home. In London alone, there are more than 113,000 Latinos and on the national level, this number rises to more than 186,000, according to an investigation by Queen Mary University, London and the NGOs Latin American Women’s Rights Service and Trust for London.

However, is the search for economic opportunities the main reason for the Latino presence in the UK? Not at all. There is another influential element: politics, the reason for which many Latinos decide to leave their native lands. In fact, during the period of political obscurantism that the American continent suffered (especially in the Southern Cone) due to the terrible dictatorships that held power in the 50s, 60s and 70s, the United Kingdom offered itself as a shelter to many political refugees, activists and artists.

There is yet another element, not as influential as economic or political reasons, but with some impact upon the presence of Latinos in Great Britain -marriage. There are hundreds of unions between Latinos and Britons or other nationalities based in the United Kingdom.

The motives behind their marriages or other types of convivial arrangements vary. In view of the lack of statistics to show the exact number of Latinos married with Britons or residents of Great Britain, the best option is to go by the common denominators which allow these marriages to take place and specific cases which could explain them -especially legal unions.

The most common example is that of the Briton who goes to study or work abroad and falls in love with a native person. At the end of their course the British native decides to return home but during this period of cohabitation, they have already built the foundations for a longer-lasting union, usually taking place in UK.

Another example is that of the Latino who comes to the United Kingdom with ideas of learning the language or perfecting their abilities to speak and they find a British counterpart interested in learning either Spanish or Portuguese. Romance blossoms, resulting frequently in a life together. Just as in the first instance, the couple decide to live in the UK. In such a situation, the advantages are numerous: firstly, cultural exchange:the Latino becomes a part of the British multiracial rainbow and the newcomer brings with him/her professional experience.

Another reason that Britons and Latinos unite in matrimony is the similarities in social interests and, sometimes, religion. As an example, we can look at the cohabitation of a Mexican and an Irish person, both catholic, whose union produces six offspring. Both parents working in the public and charity sector, her as a midwife and he as a driver for a voluntary organisation. Their children, having followed a similar route to their parents, specialised in social and civil sector careers.

There are many unions such as this one. One case in particular is that of a Brazilian woman and her Scottish husband, both Christians, and contributing regularly to the local community, including frequently attending the church  in which he officiates as a civil clergyman.

The preceding examples do not mean that economic and political factors have less of an impact on the settlement of Latinos in Great Britain. However, it does allow us to see that marriage plays an important role, as much of the time it helps Latinos to overcome various barriers , such as discrimination (or invisibility), language, the lack of employment opportunities and other social and economic obstacles.

And just as many of the beneficiaries will testify, the effects are positive and visible.

(Translated by: Emma Harris Email: emma_harris123@hotmail.co.uk)

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