The nation-state construct is in crisis. The current migration wave is the biggest challenge for Latin American republics since they were born. Not only the migratory laws and the concept of citizenship are being questioned, but also all political and economic ideologies are falling down, unable to meet the populations’ needs and demands. 

As countries are struggling to keep order and impose sovereignty, frontiers seem to blur.  Armies and weapons can’t stop the hordes of people who are crossing rivers, mountains and deserts to find peace and a better future for their families. In Latin America, a continent in which fragility is a constant and stability just a desire, a region in which social turmoil took over, the pandemics is the final blow for countries that were already experiencing crisis. 

Honduras, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Venezuela, the poorest, the most exposed to the environmental risks of floods, tornados and hurricanes and to structural problems such as unemployment, inequality, and violence1 are the starting points for large groups of people fleeing mainly to Mexico and the United States and, in the last decades, to the Southern Cone. 

However, massive migration does not only complicate Latin America. In Europe, a continent in which social and economic issues seemed to run more smoothly, the waves of immigrants escaping war and hunger in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Maghreb2, Senegal, Nigeria, and other nations reached its territories, looking for prosperity and security. This placed more demands on governments and states. Germany, Italy and Spain either hardened their migratory laws or sent troops to deter newcomers. Nonetheless, they ended up opening doors to these immigrants who settled down in makeshift houses like the chabolas in Spain.3

As the weather change is striking from the Arctic to Antarctic the chances of taking things back from the point in which the current sanitary crisis started go away, even for prosperous countries. In the specific case of America and the Caribbean, the environmental and economic crisis going out of control has caused the current wave of immigration to move from north to south in a desperate attempt of survival. Within the signs of environmental crisis, we can identify the drought, floods, tornados, hurricanes, pollution and other phenomena that affect the continent. The drought alone is causing massive human displacements looking for grazing lands for their cattle. On the other hand, floods, tornados and hurricanes bring destruction every year from the United States to Central America and the Caribbean, these last two areas being the poorest on the continent. The consequences of weather change are numerous and unstoppable. Nevertheless, there is hope that a common international effort might reduce their impact while finding solutions that create better living conditions for all kinds of life. 

1.See Cord, L.; Genoni, M. et

2. See Augustyn, A. in

3. See Gorney,

Regarding the economic reasons for migrating, there are multifactorial realities to address. Evidently, the poorest countries in America are more prone to experience the lasting effects of the environmental disasters. This happens because they also have structural problems such as extreme poverty, violence, corruption, malnutrition, less access to education, poor sanitary conditions, inequality, among other factors4 that do not let them go back in track when unexpected natural events take place. 

To make things worse, the population that is below the poverty line and the most vulnerable groups inside a nation, in which we include the less well off, most women, aboriginal people, Afro Latinos, and the elderly, do not have access to bank loans since they do not have assets or steady incomes. Therefore, migration becomes their only strategy to move forward. A more thorough analysis comes from the study of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The nations that contribute with more migrants in the continent depend heavily on the remittances they receive from nationals living abroad. 5

The current scenario raises several questions on immigration. If this continent was populated more than 12,000 years ago by peoples coming mostly from Africa and Euroasia, leading to the appearance of the aboriginal groups that inhabited these latitudes in prehistory and before the arrival of the European conquerors in the 15th century, should we look at the present migratory wave as something that is part of our human nature? Or should we instead give our best to save the nation-state, borders and identities as we know them? How are pivotal themes like jobs, pensions, health system, education, defense and politics going to evolve in a continent where the only certain thing is uncertainty? Is it time to revisit the nation-state concept and think of a macrozone or a coalition, with local differences but with a single government, perhaps? Neither the Bolivarian Republic nor neoliberalism are feasible given the animosity they bring for their association with the left and Capitalism, respectively. Answers are needed soon. When migrants are putting pressure on the world it is time to revisit our systems and look at more innovative models. Nevertheless, since countries and societies devoted a large part of their history to write constitutions, legal systems and give their societies an order that would model their citizens’ behavior, a new system would have to include the elements of this old organization that worked. In view of all that, let us look at the past to understand who we are and let us see with objectivity what our real projections and possibilities are.

5. See Cord, L.; Genoni, M. et al. in

6. See Cord, L.; Genoni, M. et al. in


Augustyn , A. (Ed.). (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2021, from

Cord, L., & Genoni, M. e. (2015). Shared Prosperity and Poverty Eradication in Latin America and the Caribbean. Retrieved February 16, 2021, from

Gorney, C. (2019, August). African migrants in Europe trade one hardship for another. National Geographic. Retrieved February 16, 2021, from

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