How Chile gained the largest Palestinian community outside the Arab world | International | News

A picture planned in an imposed building in the center of the Chilean capital, Santiago, caught the attention of its people on Tuesday, May 18th.

“Save Palestine”, Said noticeable news from different points of the city.

At the same time, cars and horns of various groups holding strong cars and flags and banners were delivered to the Palestinian people during the eleven days of conflict between this state and Israel.

Clashes erupted on May 10 with dozens of Israeli airstrikes Gaza Strip, Of which 248 died, including 66 children, and nearly 2,000 were injured, in addition large areas were reduced to rubble. Hamas rockets kill 12 in Israeli territory

Some 13,000 kilometers away, the Palestinian community in Chile closely followed the controversy, many of whom were stunned by their own relatives, who had to be rescued from the bombing buildings.

This is not the first time that a South American country has given such massive support to Palestine as was seen in those days.

The Torre Telefenica building in Plaza Italia, in the center of Santiago, will light up on Tuesday, May 18 with the slogan “Save Palestine.” Photo: JOAQUÍN GRAU

Description? According to various investigations and studies, there is a Palestinian community in Chile The largest – and the oldest one – outside the Middle East.

Although it is difficult to know how many there really are, the Chilean Palestinian Federation today promises that they are being violated. 500,000 people.

But how did something like this come about? Why did this community decide to immigrate to one country so far from the rest of the world?

Why Chile?

To understand the phenomenon of Palestinian immigration to Chile, we must go back to the end of the 19th century.

The part of Palestine between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, which is considered sacred to Muslims, Jews and Catholics. Ottoman Empire. But a strong Jewish settlement nurtured by Zionist aspirations began to generate opposition among the communities.

“The exodus of Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese is taking place in the midst of the economic crisis, the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the repression of the first Arab nationalist movements in the region,” he explains. BBC Mundo Ricardo Marzuka, Academician at the Center for Arabic Studies, University of Chile.

This community saw America as a “new world” full of opportunities.

In this way, many young Palestinians traveled to Europe and by sea Buenos Aires. But instead of staying in the Argentine capital, the wealthy and the Europeanized, some wanted to cross the Andes and head towards Chile.

Between 1885 and 1940, it was counted among the Arabs 8,000 and 10,000 in Chile, According to the book Arab world and Latin America, Half of them Palestinians are mostly from three places: Bethlehem, Pet Jala and Pet Zahor.

The disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and the formation of Israel came after the First and Second World Wars, the second most important migration. May 14, 1948.

From that moment on, the Palestinians began to escalate tensions in the region Nakba, The so-called “destruction” or “catastrophe”: the beginning of national tragedy. When it is, they consider 750.000 Palestinians fled to other countries or were expelled by Jewish troops.

Like other young countries, Chile needed immigrants to strengthen its economy and control its territory. Although the Chilean elite has always chosen Europeans – those who have granted land and rights since the early 19th century – the Arabs and Palestinians have chosen this South American nation.

Today there are an estimated 500,000 Palestinian immigrants in Chile. Photo: Getty Images

“There was a kind of chain effect, where some groups came to Chile and brought their relatives,” Marzuka explains.

“There is a set of factors that motivate its solution: The WeatherBecause there are some similarities between the Palestinian territory and the Chilean case; The Freedom, Something that was greatly missed by the oppression of the Ottoman Empire and later by the suppression of British rule; And this Economic prosperity “Adds education.

Textile industry

Those from the Middle East chose Trade and textiles, A decision that is important for the growing prosperity of the colony.

They followed their tradition, they knew the “stumbling block” but they also attended the pending case. They came with parcels in rural or Chilean cities.

Thus, the first layer of the family Abumogur Today the representative of one of the largest economic groups in Chile today traveled with businesses such as trade, finance and football – to the country that supplies wholesale goods.

In Talka, in the 50s, the company opened Sai House, From a family of Palestinian descent. His heirs later became famous merchants: Alvaro Chai, Owner and chairman of the business group Corp Group, There are currently investments in finance Retail And even media like the newspaper Third.

Other immigrants began to make cotton or silk, replacing local craft invoices or expensive European imports. Palestinian-born Hirmas, Syed, Yarur and Sumer will become synonymous with a powerful textile industry.

Textiles of Palestinian descent marked the economic, political and social era in Chile until the late 1970s. Photo: Getty Images

“Initially the Palestinians were dedicated as street vendors, then they were inserted into small businesses, and then, in the 1930s, these families made a major contribution to the development of textiles,” says Marzuka.

A) Yes, Representing an era of Palestinian descent Economic, political and social in Chile until the late 70s.

After the economy reopened in the 80s and 90s, and in the face of fierce Chinese competition, most of Palestinian wealth expanded into various industries: finance, real estate, agriculture, wine, agriculture, food and the media.


But it is not so easy.

Although historians and experts confirm that Palestinian integration in Chile was a “great success,” there were critical moments.

Those in the Arab world had to endure Rejection attitude From the Chileans, this lasted a long time and made it difficult to stay, especially during the first years of the migration flow.

They were called separately “Turks”, Which hurt the Palestinian colony not only because they isolated a nation they did not belong to, but also because they identified with the oppressed.

Part of the strong stigma attached to this community was the preference of European immigrants in the upper Chilean social spheres, who were even given land for colonization.

“In Latin America and much of the world, the Orientalist civil paradigm existed and is called the phenomenon Turcophobia. That is, the rejection of Arab immigrants because of the racial classification created by the Europeans; Coming from Europe was a symbol of civilization, ”explains Marzuka.

“There was the rejection of some elite in the Chilean high society, where the Palestinians were outraged. They were told they would not contribute to society, they were ambitious, licensed in sexual terms,” ​​the educator says.

Little by little, however, the Palestinians used a tool to enter Chilean society.

Club Deportivo Palestine is a popular professional football team in Chile, founded in 1920. Photo: Getty Images

In addition to their contribution to economic development, a football team – the Palestinian Club – formed a wide variety of organizations, from charities and cultural organizations.

They also succeeded in migrating to various cities throughout Chile, which is important for building relationships with different Chilean communities.

And inside Santiago, They won the celebrities “Neighborhood Host”, Feels like a little Palestinian to this day, with restaurants serving stuffed grape leaves, fried meat or popular Arabic desserts, always to the sound of these immigrant characteristic music.

“Chile has a word, every province has a square, a church, a police checkpoint and a public. We are everywhere!”, He says. BBC Mundo Maurice Comis, President of the Palestinian Federation of Chile who came to Chile in 1952 with his family from Palestine.

“90% of the Palestinians in Chile are from the province of Bethlehem, and the fact that we are Christians unites us in an organized way. We are all intertwined,” Kamis said.


Some great fortunes in Chile bring family names from cities near Jerusalem and are re-emphasized in the fields of justice, politics, culture and commerce.

The commercial impetus is portrayed in companies like Park Araco The family said, With shopping centers in Chile, Peru and Colombia; Or Banco de Credito e Inversions, founded in 1937 Juan Yarour Lolas Still one of the largest in the square.

There are also important political figures in the Palestinian community. Party leaders, senators, delegates, mayors and councilors are Palestinians. Without further ado, one of the best-running presidential candidates in this country today is from the community: Daniel Magic, Of the Communist Party.

The Palestinian community in Chile has never been isolated from its native communities. Photo: Getty Images

“We are plugged into all parts of the community. For example, my children are married to Chileans and not of Palestinian descent. There is total integration, ”said Maurice Camis.

Nevertheless, according to educator Ricardo Marzuka, the Palestinians “They were never cut off from the communities in which they appeared”, Which can be explained in part by the severity of events that have marked this region in recent decades.

“There was a time when the Palestinian feeling in Chile was not so clear. But that has changed. What is happening there today has become apparent and problems have been seen,” says Kamis.

“It simply came to our notice then. It draws blood, ”he concludes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top