Migration Profile for Paraguay Surveys Impact of Past and Present Migration Policies
A newly released IOM Migration Profile for Paraguay defines
1870, the end of the War of the Triple Alliance between Argentina,
Brazil and Uruguay against Paraguay, as a pivotal point for an
immigration policy aimed at repopulating the land-locked South
With an estimated death toll of up to 300,000 and an economy in
ruins, post-war governments focused on agricultural colonization
through immigration to rebuild its primary productive sector.
But the policy failed to attract the desired immigration from
Europe. The flow of European migrants into Paraguay was 100 times
smaller than the numbers arriving in the victorious countries:
Argentina, Brazil and, to a lesser extent, Uruguay.
target="_blank" title="">Perfil Migratorio de Paraguay
Exacerbating the need to repopulate the country, there was a
dramatic increase in emigration to neighbouring countries,
Although this trend continued almost to this day, small groups
of European and North American migrants arrived in Paraguay and
made their mark, establishing important agricultural colonies and
cities, and becoming socially and culturally integrated into the
Anarchy, political instability, civil wars and a long and highly
repressive dictatorship that characterized most of the twentieth
century were decisive push factors for increased emigration flows,
which expanded to other countries in the region and beyond, namely
the United States, Spain, Italy and France.
During the mid-1960s, the single largest flow of immigrants to
Paraguay came from Brazil and was significant because of its impact
on consolidating a high-tech agricultural and livestock production
model that required a small labour force.
This model, linked to large transnational corporations working
in cereal and meat exports, served only to intensify the most
recent emigration flows, driven primarily by the simultaneous
expansion of a highly informal labour market characterized by
underemployment and unemployment, affecting mainly young people and
The Migration Profile explains how Paraguayan emigration
is influenced by fluctuations in the economic development and
labour market of countries of destination. This explains how the
Argentine economic crisis of the 1990s and the restrictive
immigration policy implemented by the European Union led to high
levels of vulnerability among Paraguayan migrants, leading to the
return or repatriation of relatively large groups.
However, this did not stop Paraguayans from wanting to emigrate
as soon as conditions in these countries showed signs of
improvement. But the migrant population remains highly vulnerable
due to low wages, their irregular status and precarious conditions
The Migration Profile points to the regularization policy
implemented in Argentina since 2000 as a significant factor that
has improved the situation for Paraguayan migrants in that
An unknown number of migrants, who have arrived in Paraguay in
recent years, are in a similar irregular situation. Limitations,
inefficiencies and poor practices, inherent for many years within
Paraguayan government institutions responsible for migration
policies and administrative measures, contributed to this
The Profile reports that progress in the past three years has
led to improvements in the way temporary and permanent residence
documents are controlled, registered and issued.
According to estimates from 2010, there were some 777,000
Paraguayan migrants abroad, representing almost 12 per cent of the
total population. The last census, which took place in 2002,
indicated that there were just over 173,000 foreigners in the
country, representing 3.4 per cent of the total population recorded
for that year.
During the last decade, new migration flows of Lebanese,
Chinese, Korean and Brazilian migrants have arrived in Paraguay.
These are linked to commercial activities across the border with
Brazil, particularly in the cities of Ciudad del Este, Pedro Juan
Caballero and Saltos del Guairá. The quantitative impact of
these flows will be confirmed in the 2012 census.
The IOM Migration Profile points to a need to revise
migration-related legislation, policies and institutions in the
country. Other recommendations include leveraging the increasing
prominence of Paraguayan migrant organizations in destination
countries. In 2009 Paraguayans abroad sent home remittances
equivalent to almost 12 per cent of the foreign currency value of
the country's exports.
The Migration Profiles, which are funded through IOM's
Development Fund, are prepared in close cooperation with
government entities working on migration-related issues. They are
developed as a tool for governments to identify and understand
their migration realities and needs in order to develop the
policies and strategies at the national and regional levels for
In South America, IOM has developed Migration Profiles
for Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay,
Paraguay and Venezuela, and is currently finalizing profile for
The IOM Migration Profile for Paraguay, available in Spanish,
can be downloaded at: "http://publications.iom.int/bookstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=41_42&products_id=774"
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