BY PATRICK J. MCDONNELL, JORGE POBLETE
SANTIAGO, Chile — Seven years ago, Widenska Andre’s father sent her a plane ticket to relocate to his adopted homeland — Chile, where he was among a fast-growing population of Haitian immigrants.
Andre, 21, today has permanent residence in the South American nation and a steady job helping migrants in Santiago, the capital. Still, she contemplated joining an ongoing exodus of fellow Haitians from Chile to the United States.
“Who doesn’t want to live the American dream?” Andre, who has six siblings living in Chile, said recently.
Because she is doing well, Andre ultimately decided to remain in Chile when three of her cousins, also in their 20s, embarked on the more than 4,000-mile journey north.
Chile, a country of 19 million people, was previously home to many, if not most, of the thousands of Haitian migrants whose presence at a now-cleared encampment in Del Rio, Texas, dramatized the immigration challenges facing the Biden administration.
Chile has long boasted one of the region’s most robust economies — and also hosts one of the world’s largest Haitian diasporas.
Haitians began to immigrate in large numbers to South America — mostly to Chile and Brazil — in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that devastated their Caribbean country, killing tens of thousands and further battering the economy in a nation that has long been among the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.Continue reading