Europe's emigrants face red tape in Latin America

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 26, 2013 at 12:44 am •  Published: January 26, 2013
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Chile isn't unique in the demands it places on foreign workers. Brazil and Argentina are famous for their red tape, and lacking EU citizenship, many Latin Americans haven't been welcomed into Europe's job market, either.

The summit agenda includes fostering "best practices" for lowering barriers to work. One example: representatives of 400 universities on both sides of the Atlantic met in Santiago this week to create a "common space for higher education," with the goal of standardizing the degrees and certifications awarded throughout both regions.

The agenda also advocates equal treatment for citizens of all nations, a sore point in the former colonies of Europe. While EU citizens can enter any country in the region on tourist visas, Latin Americans have been humiliated in Europe's airports, interrogated and sent home even though they said they complied with the entry rules.

"Welcome to a better world," is how Chile's President Sebastian Pinera greeted his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy, a tongue-in-cheek phrase that resonates on all sorts of levels for travelers between both regions.

Rodriguez and Pascual can testify that their welcome was difficult at best during their first months in Chile.

Without formal work and a visa, they couldn't get the Chilean identity numbers known as RUTs, which are vital for all aspects of life. Without a RUT, you can't get a telephone line, buy a cellphone, obtain a credit card, open a bank account, or make hundreds of other transactions in Chile.

Pascual, a 38-year-old actress, spent five months in low-paid, under-the-table jobs before she got help from the Spanish embassy, where she now works as a cultural representative.

"The bureaucracy here is terrible," Pascual says. But now she sounds contented, and spends much of her time supporting other Spaniards who keep arriving in Chile. "Many people are coming, so we help them a little, because it's very bureaucratic here, very complicated, and they get desperate."

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