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Cuban and Ecuadorian immigrants fill medical gap in Chile

Cuban and Ecuadorian immigrants fill medical gap in Chile

Posted by Jose Traboulsi on March 03, 2015

Although Cubans and Ecuadorians represent a small fraction of immigrants living in Chile, they are two of the largest groups obtaining citizenship, according to a recent report from the Department of Immigration.

Since 2009, 727 Cubans and 646 Ecuadorians have become Chilean citizens, following Peruvians who topped the charts with 1,219 citizenship acquisitions in the last six years.

According to the Department of Immigration, among the 441,000 immigrants living in Chile in 2014, nearly 38 percent are Peruvian, followed by Argentines (15 percent) and Bolivians (approximately 8 percent).

Rodrigo Sandoval, the head of the Department of Immigration, identified high levels of education as the principal reason why Cubans and Ecuadorians have fared well in the contest to acquire citizenship. Naturalized immigrants from the two nations are mainly skilled workers from the medical sector, filling in a gap left by a growing deficit of medical professionals in Chile.

In search of higher wages and better working conditions, large scores of medical professionals from Ecuador and Cuba have relocated to Chile, covering areas “Chilean doctors are not interested in,” Sandoval told press.

Chilean authorities have acknowledged the shortage of medical professionals and said they are devising new policies to continue attracting foreign professionals willing to fill the medical personnel gap.

“In Cuba, there are high numbers of doctors per inhabitant and there are no obstacles to study medicine. We are working with the National Autonomous Corporation of Certifications in Medical Specializations (Conacem) and with universities in Cuba to give them the opportunity to come here and work, respecting our legislation,” Health Minister Helia Molina told press.

According to Sandoval, the Department of Migration is also collaborating with the ministry to facilitate the arrival of skilled medical professionals, working on a special professional registry for such cases.

Chile is the South American country where immigration has increased the most in the last two decades, a UN report recently revealed. The numbers of immigrants living in Chile almost quadrupled since 1990, reaching roughly 398,000 in 2013. The greatest majority of immigrants living in Chile come from neighboring Latin American countries, although the recent economic crisis that hit the European continent has seen a wave of Spaniards settling Chile, approximately 6,000 in 2013.

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