Opinion: Colombia and the Dominican Republic, a Culture of Migration

A survey shows that both Colombia and the Dominican Republic are the countries with the highest intention to emigrate to the region. What is the reason?.

people migrating

Photo: Latin American Post

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Opinión: Colombia y República Dominicana, una cultura de migración

A recent Gallup poll found that Colombians and Dominicans are the most likely Latinos to emigrate. This is above several other nationalities, such as Venezuela, Nicaragua, Honduras, Peru, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and others. On the other side of the spectrum, Argentina stands out. According to the survey, almost half of Colombians (49%) and Dominicans (48%) would emigrate if they had the resources.

This shows that the only or main reason for migrating is not necessarily economic or social. There are also aspects related to the family support network in the destination country.

You can also read: Colombia: Economic and Ecological Emergency in La Guajira, One of the Most Forgotten Territories

The UN itself points out several reasons why human beings migrate. From job opportunities, family reunification, studies, or fleeing violence, terrorism, or environmental disasters due to climate change. There are many reasons not only to flee the economic crisis.

Different Contexts

Given the results of this Gallup poll, the hypothesis also arises that migration and the willingness to migrate have deeper motives than can be observed. Colombia and the Dominican Republic have little to do with each other regarding economics or violence.

The Dominican Republic has a GDP per capita of $8,400, higher than Colombia's $6,100. The Gini index for Dominicans is 38.5, much better than 51.5, showing less inequality with South Americans.

Moreover, the island nation does not suffer from an armed conflict suffered by millions of Colombians and is not a significant driver of internal and external displacement.

A Migratory Tradition

With these countries so disparate in several cases, it is relevant to understand that there is also a migratory tradition that could be another hypothesis that could explain this phenomenon. Dominicans and Colombians are societies that, over the years, have left their borders. It is something that is in the subconscious. When the culture of the countries is also based on relatives or acquaintances who emigrated and achieved success, it can also be an incentive for many to seek a similar context.

At the other extreme of those open to emigration is Argentina. A country that went through a series of financial crises and dictatorships that caused thousands of refugees. Even today, as the Argentinean economy experiences the devaluation of the Argentinean peso, the desire is to remain in the country.

Another clear example was Venezuela, which went through its most significant financial crisis in centuries and generated the largest Latin American exodus in recent history. Despite this, only 30% of Venezuelans responded affirmatively to whether they would emigrate if they had the resources. This can also be understood by the reality that many have already left. Venezuela and Argentina are destinations of European migration, which could also explain their unwillingness to seek a new life outside their borders by choice.

However, Mexico is the country that shows another reality. While it is true that historically the Aztec country is the origin of one of the largest diasporas in the United States, today, only 26% of Mexicans would be willing to leave the country. A response that contradicts its migratory history but which is close to the decrease in Mexican migration to its northern neighbor.

The complete list is Colombia 49%, Dominican Republic 48%, Ecuador 47%, Honduras 45%, Nicaragua 40%, Peru 32%, Panama 31%, Venezuela 30%, El Salvador 28%, Costa Rica 28%, Guatemala 26%, Mexico 26% and Argentina 25%. The Gallup poll interviewed 1,200 citizens in each country in person or by telephone between May and June 2003. The margin of error for the survey is +2.8 points at a 95% confidence level.

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