Bolivia: government wants immigrants back

At a ceremony in La Paz marking International Migrants Day on Dec. 18, Bolivian foreign minister David Choquehuanca said the leftist government of President Evo Morales had an “obligation” to help Bolivian migrants return to their country. “The recovery of our natural resources is important for us so that Bolivians who for different reasons have gone abroad to look for work or to study can return to our country and can build [their] dreams in our lands,” Choquehuanca said, linking the issue to the government’s nationalization policies. He also announced accords with Spain to make it easier for Bolivian immigrants to Spain to get drivers’ licenses there.

Alfonso Hinojosa, who heads Bolivia’s consular offices, told the Spanish wire service EFE that the government had taken several steps to encourage the return of migrants, including an offer of land to Bolivian immigrant communities in Argentina and Chile. The government is also considering incentives for Bolivians working at low-wage jobs in shops in Argentina and Brazil to come home, he said. According to the government more than two million people have left Bolivia in the past 30 years, most of them moving to Argentina, where about 1.5 million Bolivians are living. Some 250,000 Bolivians are in the US, and around the same number live in Brazil, while as many as 350,000 may have immigrated to Spain from 2002 to 2007. (La Opinión, Los Angeles, Dec. 23 from EFE)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 27

See our last posts on Bolivia and the politics of immigration.