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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: July 2009

4 - Sites of Exile

Summary

Gentle homeland, receive the vows,

Which Chile swore on your altars:

That you either be the tomb of the free

Or the asylum from oppression

From Chile's national anthem

Although for centuries Latin America received waves of conquerors, colonizers, slaves, and immigrants, it has been also characterized by varied forms of translocation and expatriation, ostracism and relegation, displacement and exile. Persecuted for political reasons, or fearing for their integrity and safety, individuals have been displaced within their countries or forced to move beyond their borders. This chapter analyzes some of the major sites or lieux d'exil chosen by the exiles under constrained circumstances.

Selecting Factors

Studies of internal and international migration have identified a series of strategies and chain factors, shaping the waves of transnational migration. The dynamic highlighted by these studies also operates in exile, shaping the constrained choices of the persecuted. There is, however, a major difference between voluntary migration and forced relocation. The harsher the persecution, the fewer the options prospective exiles have in selecting a site of asylum. Of particular weight is the immediate or protracted need to escape for one's life. Lack of time and urgency often override other considerations.

There is another significant difference between an undocumented person who, escaping armed persecution, jumps the fence of an embassy to save his or her life and an individual who, sensing persecution, has the time and resources to evaluate alternative routes of escape and asylum and whether and when to leave the home country.

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