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Four Generations of Regional Policies for the (Free) Movement of Persons in South America (1977–2016)

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Regional Integration and Migration Governance in the Global South

Part of the book series: United Nations University Series on Regionalism ((UNSR,volume 20))

Abstract

In the last two decades, South America created a regional regime for human mobility that is regarded as the most developed one after the EU. This regime is characterized by equal social and economic rights, working conditions and family reunion, as well as the right to reside and work in other Member States.

Despite these important advances and the ground-breaking positions that this region sustains at the global level, South America remains understudied in governance, Regional Integration (RI) and migration studies. This chapter will make a contribution to the literature on regional migration governance in the Global South by proposing to assess the human mobility agenda in Regional Organizations (ROs) by identifying ‘generations’ of policies. I will argue that South American migration governance has gone through four of these generations, evolving from regional legislation that mainly focused on labor migration to the current ‘liberal’ regime (Cantor, Freier, & Gauci. Institute of Latin American Studies, London, 2015). In spite of being a ‘younger’ RO, Mercosur turned out to be the leader in proposing regional migration policies for the whole of South America by multilateralizing its Residence Agreement in the early 2010s, and by developing farther-reaching measures than the Andean Community. I will explain the main characteristics of each policy ‘generation’ and will briefly look into the reasons that explain these developments and Mercosur’s leadership. I will finally open the debate for the possible beginning of a ‘fourth generation’ of regional policies, beginning in 2015 with the change in the political orientation of the governments in the region and the possible upcoming modifications of regionalism in South America.

This article draws information from more than a hundred in-depth interviews conducted between 2012 and 2018 with key governance actors in both the Mercosur and the CAN. It is also based on an analysis of the legislation on migration and institutional policy documents.

The findings on which this research is based were supported by European Research Council funding for the project Prospects for International Migration Governance (MIGPROSP) agreement no. 340430 awarded to Professor Andrew Geddes.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The CAN is a regional organization created by the Cartagena Agreement in 1969. Its current member states are Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

  2. 2.

    MERCOSUR is a regional organization created by the Treaty of Asunción in 1991. The original four member states are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Venezuela joined MERCOSUR in 2012, but its membership was suspended in 2017. Bolivia joined on 17 July 2015 and the only requirement left for its full membership at the time of writing this chapter in 2018 is the final approval by Brazil’s Parliament. The remaining six countries in South America are Associate States.

  3. 3.

    This means that the study of national migration policies is out of the scope of this chapter.

  4. 4.

    For instance, after the ‘large movements’, in 1960, Argentina and Uruguay’s foreign population was 12.6% and 7.2% of the total population respectively. Nowadays, they account for 4% and 2.5% of the total (Perera 2010, p. 24).

  5. 5.

    Source: https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/%2D%2D-americas/%2D%2D-ro-lima/%2D%2D-ilo-mexico/documents/image/wcms_516605.pdf (visited in October 2018).

  6. 6.

    For more information on the changing characteristics of Latin American intra-regional migration flows, see Massey et al. (2008) and Cerrutti and Parrado (2015).

  7. 7.

    For more information on the Venezuelan situation, see Brumat (2020 forthcoming).

  8. 8.

    This reconfiguration of the RI project was stated in the Quito Protocol, in 1987 and the institutional organization was defined in the Cartagena de Trujillo Agreement in 1996.

  9. 9.

    Modified in 1996 through the Resolution 63/96 (GMC 1996a) was occasionally adjusted as the countries changed their national documents.

  10. 10.

    It was renegotiated and its second version was approved in 2015.

  11. 11.

    Organized in the Coordinator of Central Unions of the Southern Cone (CCSCS, for its initials in Spanish), which groups the main central unions of each member state.

  12. 12.

    In the Working Subgroup no. 10 (SGT 10), which has a tripartite composition including governments, employers and workers representatives.

  13. 13.

    This is not necessary nowadays because the Residence Agreement goes beyond the scope of this norm (see infra.).

  14. 14.

    See Briceño Ruiz (2014) and Sanahuja (2012) for a deeper discussion on the differences between open regionalism and the RI model that predominated in the 2000s.

  15. 15.

    The Residence Agreement was signed first by Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Chile. Peru and Ecuador joined it in 2011 (CMC 2011a, 2011b) and Colombia in 2012 (CMC 2012a). Venezuela has not signed it yet.

  16. 16.

    The Agreement entered into force in July 2009, but I consider that it is a milestone in the agenda and that it signalled the beginning of a new generation of policies first, due to the social and political significance of its provisions and second, because the main receiving country (Argentina) started to apply it unilaterally before it entered into force in 2006 with the Patria Grande Program.

  17. 17.

    The idea to institutionalize a regional dialogue on migration dated back to 1999, when this was proposed during the “South American Meeting about Migration, Integration and Development” held in Lima, Peru. The first official SACM meeting took place in Santiago de Chile in 2001.

  18. 18.

    Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Guyana and Surinam.

  19. 19.

    See for instance https://www.telesurtv.net/news/bolivia-onu-pacto-mundial-sobre-migracion-20180228-0059.html (visited in January 2019).

  20. 20.

    See Ramírez (Ramírez G. 2013, 2016) on Ecuador’s migration policy.

  21. 21.

    Agreement for the Verification of Documents for the Entry and Exit of Minors (RMI 2006); standardization of the 90-day term for tourists citizens of Mercosur (CMC 2006); the adoption of a resolution that replaced the Resolution 75/96 (GMC 1996a), which enumerates the documents that are required to enter or exit the territory of the member states and the modification of the Recife Agreement.

  22. 22.

    Which is a compilation of all the norms and rights already valid in Mercosur (see FEM 2013, annex V).

  23. 23.

    Decision 8/12 (CMC 2012b) (modified in 2014 with the Decision 25/14, CMC 2014) created a network of specialists in documentary security, known as RED SEGDOC, whose objective is to prevent falsification of documents. The agreement of travel documents was also renovated (CMC 2015a) and the TES was updated with an agreement for electronic migration registration (CMC 2015b).

  24. 24.

    Its member states are: Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

  25. 25.

    Chile was the first one to leave in 1976. Venezuela followed suit in 2006, to join Mercosur.

  26. 26.

    In the face of current Venezuelan emigration, some of the regional policies addressed here are proving to be particularly helpful for some states. For instance, Argentina and Uruguay are applying to Venezuelans unilaterally.

  27. 27.

    See Brumat (2019).

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Brumat, L. (2020). Four Generations of Regional Policies for the (Free) Movement of Persons in South America (1977–2016). In: Rayp, G., Ruyssen, I., Marchand, K. (eds) Regional Integration and Migration Governance in the Global South. United Nations University Series on Regionalism, vol 20. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-43942-2_7

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