Canadians Discuss Migration to Chile

The Toronto Globe and Mail describes migration to Chile and Brazil:

In the middle-class kitchens of Chile, it is women from Peru who wash the dishes. The men who pick fruit in the vast agro-estates in Chilean valleys are Bolivians. And many of the men who chip copper from its mountains are Colombians.

The acceleration of Latin America’s largest economies has created an unprecedented flow of economic migration on the continent, pulling workers, both highly skilled and those seeking manual labour, from its poorest countries to its richest.

But there is a near-total absence of legislation designed to facilitate and support that migration in the pull countries, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers – and major employers in the agriculture, mining and service industries – operating in a complicated, often risky grey area.

In Brazil, the continental powerhouse, the number of foreigners in the country increased by 50 per cent in just two years, from 2010 to 2012. And in Chile, the number of immigrants increased threefold in the past 10 years – with half of the entrants coming from Peru, followed by Colombians and Bolivians.

Chile is the first-choice destination for many Spanish-speaking migrants because work in Brazil requires knowledge of Portuguese. Chilean employers are delighted to have the guest workers because a recent surge in standards of living has left even low-income Chileans uninterested in jobs doing agricultural labour or domestic work. The mining and forestry sectors need them too. At the same time, an acute shortage of skilled labour (as there is in Brazil) is drawing professionals, particularly young Europeans facing unemployment due to the economic crises in Spain, Portugal and Italy.

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