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For Some Europeans, Latin America Is Once Again A Land Of Opportunity

In the early 20th century, European migrants headed in droves to Latin America in search of work and to escape wars and poverty. A century later, the ongoing euro zone crisis is prompting a new generation of Europeans to set out across the Atlantic.

For Some Europeans, Latin America Is Once Again A Land Of Opportunity
María Enrile

SANTIAGO - We know the 20th century storyline well: European migrants crammed into ships headed for South America's principal cities, eager to leave the impoverished, war-stricken continent behind. On a different scale, and in a very different way, history is repeating itself as business executives from Europe are increasingly choosing to test their luck in Latin America and, in doing so, put some distance between themselves and the current economic crisis complicating matters back in the "Old World."

Clearly, this 21st century migration is of a very different nature. Unlike the "huddling masses' of yesteryear, today's European migrants are shirt-and-tie-wearing executives who come equipped with postgraduate degrees and speak two or three languages. And yet in one basic regard, people like André Da Costa Bernal - a Portuguese ex-pat who works for a consulting firm called Vivo - are seeking the same thing the last wave of European migrants did: better job prospects. "The big difference now is that I earn much more than I did in Lisbon," he says.

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Coronavirus

In Shanghai, A Brewing Expat Exodus As COVID Crackdown Shows "Real" China

Not only strict rules of freedom of movement as part of Zero-COVID policy but also an increase in censorship has raised many questions for the expat population in the megacity of 26 million that had long enjoyed a kind of special status in China as a place of freedom and openness. A recent survey of foreigners in the Chinese megacity found that 48% of respondents said they would leave Shanghai within the next year.

People walk in Tianzifang, located in Huangpu District, a well-known tourist attraction in Shanghai.

Lili Bai

SHANGHAI — On the seventh day of the lockdown, Félix, a French expat who has worked in Shanghai for four years, texted his boss: I want to "run,' mais je sais pas quand (but I don’t know when). A minute later, he received a reply: moi aussi (me too).

Félix had recently learned the new Mandarin word 润 (run) from social network postings of his local friends. Because its pinyin “rùn” is the same as the English word “run,” Chinese youth had begun to use it to express their wish to escape reality, either to “be freed from mundane life”, or to “run toward your future.”

For foreigners like Félix, by associating the expression “run” with the feeling of the current lockdown in Shanghai, “everything makes sense.” Félix recalled how at the end of March, the government denied rumors of an impending lockdown: “My Chinese colleagues all said, Shanghai is China’s top city, there would be no lockdown no matter what.”

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