Migrants as Agents for Development in Latin America and the Caribbean

Posted: 
02/08/07

An IOM survey of 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean on
the link between diasporas and development revealed that most
countries (94 per cent) need to increase their capacity to create
programmes aimed at involving the diaspora.

Eighty-eight per cent answered that more progress needs to be
made in their migration and development nexus while 82 per cent
said their governments needed to learn and implement successful
international practices to harness the development potential of
their migrants abroad.

The survey titled: "Diasporas, Agents for Development in Latin
America and the Caribbean", compiled the results of questionnaires
that asked governments to explain the strategies in place to
harness the potential of the diaspora to increase financial
transactions, promote the creation of businesses and to help work
with other governments to transition into a knowledge-based
economy.

"We need to work with migrant-sending countries to strengthen
policies and create programs that will contribute to engaging
diaspora communities in social and economic development in home
countries. Among the survey's fundamental findings were that
migration, remittances, and the range of economic and social
relationships that migrants maintain with their countries of origin
have a substantial and growing importance in Latin America and
Caribbean (LAC), and that the overseas LAC communities are
recognized and integrated into national and regional public
policies," said José Angel Oropeza, IOM Senior Advisor for
Latin America and the Caribbean, explaining why the survey was
carried out.

These countries know how important their nationals living abroad
are, as relevance was being given to the remittances received and
the skill that they acquire abroad. But further concrete policies
need to be put in place to ensure that these resources benefit the
entire population of these countries and contribute to their
development. Actions to promote inclusion of diasporas will further
their participation in home country development. In addition, the
study offers some suggestions to LAC governments to offer
incentives to their emigrant populations to facilitate visits and
retirement in the home country. In turn, members of the Diaspora
can use their acquired skills to work on projects in the home
country and train local practitioners.

The survey confirmed that 94 per cent of the participating
countries have policies in place to maximize the potential of their
diasporas.

Many countries have created mechanisms, some at the ministerial
level, to deal exclusively with diasporas. Some examples include
Haiti with its Ministère des Haitiens vivant a
l'Étranger, El Salvador's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
focuses on the Salvadorian diaspora, and Mexico's Instituto de
Mexicanos en el Exterior of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is
tasked with relations with Mexicans abroad.

Seventy-four per cent of governments confirmed having regular
contact with Hometown Associations, followed by 58.8 per cent with
NGOs and individuals such as artists, business persons, and
scientists.

The majority of countries in the region (88 per cent) compile
data on their diaspora. Some countries have carried out census
using consular registrations.

"There is a strong political commitment to reach out to the
diaspora and to find ways to work together," adds Oropeza. "This is
confirmed by the fact that 94 per cent of the countries that
participated in our survey allow for dual nationality. But more
data needs to be collected and policies put in place for the region
to truly benefit from its successful migrants."

"/jahia/webdav/site/myjahiasite/shared/shared/mainsite/media/docs/news/4diaspora_desarrollo.pdf"
target="_blank" title="">Survey (available in Spanish)

For more information contact:

José Angel Oropeza

IOM Geneva

Tel: +41.22.717.9369

E-mail: "mailto:joropeza@iom.int">joropeza@iom.int