There is a high migration rate in Antofagasta, Chile. Immigrants from Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, and Haiti come to this region in search of better opportunities, stability, and a higher quality of life. However, many of them are unfamiliar with Chilean laws and do possess the required paperwork – making them vulnerable to rights abuses.
Mónica Martínez, a lawyer from Peru, and Alejandra Orellana, a social worker from the US, are America Solidaria’s professional volunteers who work with our local partner, Servicio Jesuita Migrantes (SJM). They work together to provide legal assistance and employment workshops. Their services provide greater advising and legal representation to SJM visitors to access more labor opportunities.
“Antofagasta is one of the regions that receives a high volume of migrants, and this has changed the region’s socio-cultural context. Consequently, xenophobic incidents and anti-migrant protests have occurred more frequently,” comments Mónica. Moreover, she has experienced entering a community as a foreigner as “When I hear hateful speech, I feel saddened and hurt, but at the same time find the motivation to work towards a more inclusive society.”
Alejandra also comments on the perceptions of immigration: “It is seen as something negative when in reality, it brings so many benefits, cultures, and perspectives to the region. Moreover, immigration brings a new nuance to the region, unlike anything before.”
Catalina Rojas, the coordinator of SJM Antofagasta, tells us that Mónica and Alejandra “are a great addition to our team with their readiness, experience, and demonstrated generosity. They strengthen our services to migrants which namely protect their rights and increase laboral inclusion – leading to greater social inclusion. Additionally, through their own experience on the ground, they can bring attention to the daily reality lived by thousands of people from different origins that create Antofagsta’s diversity.”
This is the second project we have realized with SJM after a successful 2015 partnership in Santiago. We wanted to relocate to Antofagasta to continue our work in erasing boundaries.