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El Mercurio is a conservative Santiago-based daily. El Mercurio was founded in 1827 and is owned by S.A.P. (Sociedad Anónima Periodística), which operates a network of 19 regional dailies and 32 radio stations across Chile.
Photo of people walking alongside the border between Mexico and the United States in Tijuana
Migrant Lives
Arturo Galarce

A Migrant Odyssey: Haiti To Chile To Mexico's Border, And Beyond

Shella Jean was part of a new migration path from Haiti to the relatively prosperous nation of Chile. But she has since left behind her "Chilean Dream" on a perilous journey northward toward the U.S.-Mexico Border. This is her story.

I met Shella Jean in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in July 2017. The first time I saw her, she was standing next to a gas station in the blazing sun. I remember her face: the almond-shaped eyes, the thick lips, and eyebrows as thin as two strands of thread. Shella took me to her home.

We climbed a steep stone street until we reached a concrete room. It was used as a dining room during the day and a bedroom where she slept with her mother, a cousin and a nephew whom she had to take to Chile to reunite with his parents.

Indeed, accompanying her nephew was not only the mission entrusted to her by her relatives but also her chance to start a new life, away from the misery of her homeland.

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A (first-time) bride in Chile

In Chile, Where Remarrying Your Ex Is A Thing

Less than two decades after divorce was legalized, Chileans have a relatively high rate of retying the knot with their exes.

SANTIAGO — More than a few unhappy couples gave a sigh of relief when, in 2004, Chile finally began allowing divorce. But not everyone who took advantage of the newfound freedom to move on from their marriage managed to stay the course.

Indeed, in the nearly 15 years since Chilean husbands and wives were first allowed to formally split, more than 3,000 divorcees have decided to remarry their ex-spouse, the Santiago-based El Mercurioreports. And in at least five cases, couples have gone through all of the administrative (and emotional) load of divorcing, reconciling and remarrying each other more than once, according to data provided by the country's Registro Civil (Civil Registry).

Psychologist María Ignacia Veas of the Universidad de Santiago says that while it's fairly commonplace for couples to break up and get back together again, it's surprising that people would go through all of the hassle, stress and expense to do so in a legal sense.

"I think it has to do with the fact that non-married couples aren't as well protected in society, particularly when it comes to property, inheritance and healthcare," she told the Chilean news source.

Veas also thinks that in some of those cases, couples are influenced by traditional concepts about marriage and an "ideal family." They feel morally obliged, in other words, to make it work with their original spouse — come what may.

The strong influence of the Catholic Church had much to do with why Chile was one of the last countries in the world to allow divorce. But while a solid majority of Chileans continue to identify themselves as Catholic, plenty of husbands and wives have exercised their right over the past decade and a half to legally boot their respective spouses.

Government data suggests that since May 2004, when divorce was legalized, roughly 888,000 couples have gotten married in Chile. During that same period, about 520,000 couples officially called it quits. About one in four of those people went on to remarry, in some cases more than once, or twice, or three times even. In fact, 56 Chileans have married five times, and six a record six times, Registro Civil numbers show.


Former Chilean President Patricio Aylwin Dies At 97

"Patricio Aylwin, president of the peaceful transition to democracy, died," reads Wednesday's front page of the Chilean establishment newspaper El Mercurio. The former head of state (1990-1994) died Tuesday in his Santiago home surrounded by his family. He was 97.

Aylwin, a law professor and leader of the centrist Christian Democratic Party for over half a century, was the first civilian elected president after the bloody 17-year dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). He received widespread praise for his guidance in helping Chile, now one of Latin America's most stable countries, transition back to democracy.

After Aylwin's death was announced by his family, current Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared three days of national mourning.