Latin America and the humanization of migration processes – 05/11/2021 – Latinoamérica21

The movement of people across geographic space, whether temporary or permanent, is an integral part of human history. It is not a phenomenon, a sporadic action, something external. It is a constitutive process. The vision of this coming and going is strategic in order to understand the most varied social realities and transformations.

Data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) shows that between 1970 and 2019, the estimated number of immigrants worldwide increased from 85 million to around 272 million people. This amount has already exceeded projections made for the year 2050, which estimated some 230 million people living outside their place of origin. In the Latin America and the Caribbean region, 2017 data shows that 37 million people lived outside their country, while at the turn of the century the continent had 5.9 million immigrants.

Among so many figures, it is curious to notice two very specific aspects. The first is that the current 272 million displaced persons correspond to only 3.5% of the planet’s population. In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, the number of emigrants corresponds to 6.21% of the population, taking into account the number of inhabitants of the continent in 2010, which was 596.2 million, according to the Commission UN Economic for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The number of immigrants reaches 1% of the population, rounded up.

The second is that even with statistical data deemed weak in the face of so many problems plaguing the world, the impact of human displacement is undeniable in the social imagination and in the media coverage itself. There is still an opinion formed and, as a rule, controversial and uncompromising, on the flow of Venezuelan immigrants to Colombia, even to Brazil (via Pacaraima), intensified since 2015 the separation of parents and children of Latin immigrants at the height of the Donald Trump administration and, the caravans of people from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala to Mexico’s border with the United States, in 2019. Just to touch on recent cases of great repercussions involving our continent.


The fact is that the importance of international migration does not lie in the numbers, but lies mainly in the political, economic, social and cultural consequences that it generates, whether in the countries of origin, in those of destination or in transit countries. And it may be related to how we view migration processes, at least in the western world, since the post-industrial revolution: economically and demographically. It is no coincidence that the results of the first recognized systematic migration study are, precisely, an analysis made by Ernst Georg Ravenstein, in 1885, on the economic supremacy which determined migration to the United Kingdom on the basis of the results. of the census of the time. .

Thus, the immigrant’s relationship to the economy and its neoclassical theories, combined with demographic statistics and the very strengthening of the idea of ​​the nation-state as a means of “natural organization” of the planet, began to emerge. supervise the immigrant in the world of labor It is important to stress that there has always been a concern for justice, from the point of view of international law, even human rights, by raising awareness of these questions, but, especially in the last area, everything, still very embryonic, still.


The truth is that reality itself has opened up the complexity of human displacement, imposing the need and urgency to understand migratory flows, far beyond economic questions or statistical data. In this sense, the phrase of the Swiss sociologist Max Frisch is famous: “We wanted workers and we received people”. Thus, examining the question must acquire other biases, highlighting the multiplicity of social, symbolic and cultural interactions of the processes.

There is significant progress in these aspects. From the very visions that provided for the assimilation and acculturation of the foreigner in the new territory, we can already observe a lot today and we speak of interaction, integration, acceptance, intersectionality. There are advanced studies on migratory networks, borders, deterritorialization, transnationalism, interculturality, among other issues that stand out as a process of constant dialogue, in which the diversity of perspectives is guaranteed in the understanding of mobility. human.

There are still transformations in the views on the characters that make up migratory flows, such as the role of women and family, descendants and subsequent generations. It also draws attention to issues such as return, trafficking and smuggling of persons, double or triple legal effects, in addition to points that require greater sensitivity, such as identity changes, property religious and cultural, psychological disorders and trauma, etc.

These are not numbers, but people, so migration cannot be limited to economic or statistical content that lends itself to definitive conclusions. The humanization of migration processes is urgent. After all, migrating is not happening. It’s walking.

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