Chile: The new Latin American dream?

Chile is the American country where the presence of foreigners grows the most

Chile, an attractive country for immigrants

Thanks to its political and economic stability, and for being away from regional conflicts, Chile has become the most desired destination on the continent for those who seek a better life outside their homeland. The data is compelling: according to the International Organization for Migration, between 2014 and 2017 the Andean country has seen the number of immigrants growing by 232%, from 416,082 to 966,363, the largest increase in the entire American continent. The government has confirmed that during 2018 the million immigrants were surpassed (300,000 in irregular situation) and their presence represents 5.5% of the population.

Leer en español: Chile: ¿El nuevo sueño latinoamericano?

These figures can be triggered by the incessant arrival of Venezuelans fleeing the Nicolás Maduro's regime. There has also been an increase of Cubans and Haitians who look towards Chile, because their dream of reaching the United States is becoming increasingly complicated by the immigration policy imposed by President Donald Trump.

Due to its economic growth, Chile needs labor and this is expressed in the Public Account speech by President Sebastián Piñera, which is favorable to the arrival of immigrants, but in an "orderly and safe manner". The low birth rate of the country and its increasingly aging population, to which the low rate of unemployment is added, makes this nation a very attractive place for those seeking job opportunities away from their land.

Among the measures promoted by Piñera stands out the Democratic Responsibility Visa aimed at welcoming Venezuelans, and a humanitarian visa for Haitians.

You can also read: Piñera wants chile to continue to be an open country for immigrants

The Andean country is now preparing for a new wave of immigrants from Venezuela. The Government has indications that 450,000 Venezuelans have already initiated in their country the procedures to reach Chile, such as requesting a criminal record certificate, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Immigration. The Democratic Responsibility Visa that is being offered to Venezuelan citizens has had good acceptance among the Chilean population, who does not forget that the Caribbean country welcomed 200,000 of its compatriots after the military coup of Augusto Pinochet in 1973.

The situation of the Cubans is different, since their main objective was to reach the United States, even if it was risking their lives on a long and dangerous journey that normally started in Colombia to continue later through Central America and Mexico. The "wet feet, dry feet" policy applied by Washington for decades, which granted immediate asylum to all Cubans who reached the United States, was more than enough reason to undertake that odyssey. However, Trump was responsible for eliminating that benefit, so those who want to leave the Caribbean island now must seek a new destination and Chile seems the ideal.

Despite this massive exodus of Venezuelans, Cubans and Haitians to the Andean country, the largest foreign colonies in Chile remain the Peruvian (250,000 people), the Colombian (127,000) and the Bolivian (111,000).

Latin American Post | José María González Alonso

Translated from "Chile: ¿El nuevo sueño latinoamericano?"

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