Haitians request of permanent residence has tripled over the last ten years. However, it hasn't been easy to settle in Chile.
Since a few years ago, a large amount of Haitian families have arrived in Chile. Interesting enough, some have ventured through non-authorized border crossing, risking their lives, and even the well-being of their children, in the hopes to find a better future. The situation in their country, with a declining economy and increasing poverty, make them see the South American country as haven. Nevertheless, once in Chile, they find several obstacles.
According to the World Bank, Haiti’s GDP in 2015 was of US$18,9 billion and per capita was US$828,81 with a life expectancy between the ages of 62-75. On the other hand, Chile in 2015 had a GDP of US$240,2 billions, GDP per capita of US$13,383.88, and a life expectancy of 81.5 years.
Migrating to another country it is not easy. Many inconveniences must be solved. First, the language barrier and Haitians know all about it. They have difficulties when it comes to communicating their needs and wants. This includes hurdles they should over come if they need to visit the doctor, take up classes, or simply negotiate their monthly salary.
A new language is also tied in with a different culture. Whenever Haitians arrive to a country with a completely different way of life, new food, weather, and beliefs it becomes a whirlwind of new, and possibly terrifying, experiences. Most of them come alone looking for a job prior to having the rest of their family fly in making the situation even more overwhelming for the immigrant. They find themselves living in cheap, overcrowded apartments so that they are able to save money.
Since most of the Haitians find themselves in cumbersome legal matters, such as not residing in Chile with the adequate paperwork, the jobs they receive are not the best and do not pay well. They are low classified jobs, with no work contract, and no insurance.
According to the Department of Foreign and Migration of the Ministry of Interior, it seems that Chile is no longer a transitory country for Haitians. The increasing amount of residency requests and work visas coming from Haitians indicate that they see Chile as a new land of opportunity regardless of all the hurdles along the way.
LatinAmerican Post | Ma. Luisa Galán
Copy edited by Susana Ciccchetto