The economic growth of the region has caused it to experience significant changes in its migratory flow. With intra regional migration on the rise we see the arrival of many Europeans along with many Latin Americans now returning home.
Passport in hand, Carlos with high hopes for new job expectations, shows his ticket to the boarding card inspector. A psychology graduate, who, after many failed attempts to secure work for himself, has now set on emigrating to Mexico.
A few meters from him, stands Juan, also waiting at departures. He left his home country of Mexico in 2008 and has since worked in both the hotel and construction industry. However, given the current economic crisis that Spain is experiencing, his only obligation is to move back home to Mexico City.
At the same time, thousands of kilometres away in Boliva, groups of people are flocking to Argentina in search of work. Here they hope to secure job opportunities in the current construction boom in the country run by president Cristina Fernández Kirchner.
These are just three examples of the stories of thousands of people emigrating each day all over the world.
Without even realising it, they reflect what can be seen as a demographic revolution. Such changes experienced in the migratory flux in the last four years can be seen to coincide with the beginning of the economic crisis and the tightening of migration policies across Europe.
Latin America and the Caribbean have ceased to be countries of predominant emigration and are now in a favourable position to welcome a European, African and Asian workforce. Internal immigration is also being given particular importance within the region.
It is thought that some 4 million Latin Americans from South and Central America, partake in inter-regional immigration, each of them working outside their own country. Argentina and Chile stand out as the countries with highest reception rate of foreign nationals.
According to information from the second report carried out by The Continuous Report System of International Migration in the Americas “In some cases between 40-50% of all new inhabitants arrive there from neighbouring countries.”
This can be seen reflected in of the large presence of Paraguayans in Argentina or in the noticeable concentration of Bolivian and Peruvian people in Chile. In the words of Regional Director for the International Organisation for Migration in South America, Diego Beltrán, “The financial crisis of the Euro Zone and tighter boarder control” are the driving factors for such new migratory flows.
Spain and the USA, a decrease in immigration
Spain and the United States, both traditionally and historically recognised as Immigration destinations among Latin Americans, have experienced a reduction of movement from such counties in the last few years. In contrast, they have begun to experience an increase in Emigration from their own boarders.
While in 2006 a total of 400 thousand Latin Americans entered the European Union, this figure dropped by almost half, with 229 thousand arrivals in 2009. Such information from the International Migratory Organisation would imply that there are currently 4,290,000 Latin American citizens residing in Europe.
According to other organisations, foreign citizens arrive to Spain in search of better employment and living prospects. Many have the intention of seeking a higher social status or perhaps to escape from an area of armed conflict. However, realistically speaking circumstances have proven to be quite different for many immigrants.
The financial crisis has had a harsh effect on resident immigrants in a large portion of Europe, and above all in Spain, where the population of the Latin American community is estimated at more than 2.1 million people.
They comprise a social group that has been hit twice as hard by the unemployment rate compared to native Spanish citizens. According to information from the National Statistical Institute, 30% of all immigrants in Spain find themselves currently unemployed.
Besides that, the economic situation has made them more vulnerable due to less job stability and salaries that have fallen below the minimum wage.
Spain is no longer seen as a land of opportunities. The arrival of immigrants experienced considerable growth from the year 1999, but now fifteen years on studies show that the economic circumstances are causing Spanish society to limit access to up to 37% of foreign residents.
The data provided by the NSI in 2011, gives detail of some 50,000 Latin Americans who have since returned home. This adds to a total of 1,200,000 immigrants who have left the country in the last five years.
As indicated by Ángel Gurría, general secretary of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) “The lack of job opportunities serves as the driving force in causing foreign nationals to leave Spain.”
However alongside the reduction of Latino communities in Spain or the United States, economic growth and development can now be found in Latin American regions. This has caused the continent to become a land of opportunities for young Europeans completing their university studies.
The destinations most increasingly sought after by Europeans in the past few years have been Argentina and Venezuela, followed by Chile and Brazil. Almost half a million people, have sought their future in the country governed by Dilma Rousseff.
While countries such as Spain hold such a poor outlook for financial growth, The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is beginning to concentrate on the positive figures within the regions of Latin America. The international agency expects to see an increase of 3.9% above the global economic average from the continent.
The Economic commission of Latin America and the Caribbean stipulate that the region’s gross domestic product will increase by 3.1% and generate more wealth in the area, greater movement of trade and the overall development of industry is needed to facilitate this increased labour force.
This is the reality behind the motives of some 250 thousand Europeans for living in Latin America. From 2008 to 2010, a grand total of 110,000 European citizens went to the continent in search of new social and work opportunities.
According to the Spanish Minister of Employment and Social Security, six thousand Spanish citizens are leaving the country every month. In 2011 alone, 9,000 of them travelled as far as South America and the Caribbean. This figure is in great contrast to 3,600 that had left before them in 2006.
(Translated by Koreen Walsh)