When the sun sets, the people of Los Pajaritos leave their homes to hang out on the streets. There are no libraries or civic centers in this neck of the woods nor do the squares have fountains. Instead, the locals buy sunflower seeds and beer from a kiosk and find a bench. “Los Pajaritos is never going to get a make over,” says Cristina Anglada, 17.

Cristina, comes to Los Pajaritos to score hash. She doesn’t live here whereas her friend Sandra Rodríguez, 20, was born and bred in the neighborhood. “People from outside see us as a marginalized area, but it is not like that,” she says.

In 2017, Los Pajaritos was once again registered by authorities as the poorest area in Spain. The average income per family is €12,307 a year, according to the latest report by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) which looks at the districts of 16 Spanish municipalities with more than 250,000 inhabitants.

“The youngsters who live here are typically between 20 and 25 with no work experience,” says Salvador Muñiz, president of the Tres Barrios-Amate neighbor’s association. “They depend either on the family or their grandparents’ pensions for money. Around 60% have dropped out of school.”

Tres Barrios, which encompasses Los Pajaritos as well as La Candelaria, Madre de Dios and Amate, has a population of 22,000 and an unemployment rate of over 50% and young people are the hardest hit. These dire circumstances motivated Sandra to study social interaction.

“When you have people doing nothing all day, they end up taking drugs or drinking. We need to provide courses that will lead to jobs,” she says. “This area is stigmatized. There are a lot of hypocrites who come here to buy drugs but leave within seconds. They think they’ll get robbed, but that’s not so at all. It’s not a ghetto.”

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