Putting a Face to Spain's Crippling Unemployment

In 2012, Jose Manuel Abel moved to Munich in desperate search of a job. One year later, he's employed, but without his family.

Jose Manuel Abel, unemployed for two years, decided to leave his family and his native Spain in 2012. He headed to Germany, with just 250 Euros in his pockets, in search of a job. It's a move his own father made decades ago, in the 1960s, when Abel was two. (He returned five years later.)

Following his father's footsteps paid off for the former salesman, who worked at a Spanish restaurant in Munich before landing a full-time position at a food warehouse. But his family remains in southern Spain.

Reuters photographer Marcelo del Pozo followed Abel around last year as he prepared to leave his wife and children for the big move. A year later, del Pozo found Abel again, this time gainfully employed, but clearly homesick and struggling to adjust to his new life. The warehouse worker has only been able to visit his family twice.

With an unemployment rate currently around 6.9 percent, Germany remains an economic refuge for many Spaniards like Abel, his home country still posting an unemployment rate that hovers around 25 percent.

Below, Abel's journey through del Pozo's lens:

Jose Manuel Abel (C), 46, has lunch with his wife Oliva Santos (L), 45, daughter Claudia (2nd L), 13, son Jose Manuel (R), 16 and mother Carmen Herrera, 71, in Chipiona June 28, 2012. (REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo)
Jose Manuel Abel smokes a cigarette as he waits to catch a flight to Munich at El Prat airport in Barcelona June 29, 2012. (REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo) 
Abel walks to the flight to Munich at San Pablo airport in Seville June 29, 2012. (REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo)
Abel travels down an escalator on his way to work in Munich October 9, 2013. (REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo) 
Jose Manuel Abel eats breakfast during a break at work in a fruit and vegetable warehouse in Munich October 9, 2013. (REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo)
Abel moves a pallet as he works at a fruit and vegetable warehouse in Munich October 10, 2013. (REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo) 
Jose Manuel Abel, 47, reacts as he sits on a tram in Munich October 9, 2013. (REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo)
Abel shops for food at a supermarket after finishing work in Munich October 10, 2013. (REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo) 
Jose Manuel Abel looks for his keys at the entrance to the building where he lives in Munich October 9, 2013. (REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo) 
Abel lies down in bed at home in Munich October 10, 2013. (REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo) 
Jose Manuel Abel (R), 47, and his wife Oliva, 47, talk as they leave the airport, after she arrived from Spain to spend a week in Munich October 11, 2013. (REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo) 
Abel (L) and his wife Oliva laugh as they sit on a train after she arrived from Spain to spend a week in Munich October 11, 2013. (REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo)
Jose Manuel Abel (R), 47, and his wife sing together at home in Munich October 12, 2013. (REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo) 

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