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Palestinian community in Chile

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Title: Palestinian community in Chile  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Arab Chileans, Palestinians, Palestinian diaspora, Lebanese Chileans, Arab Chilean
Collection: Arab Chilean, Chilean People of Palestinian Descent, Ethnic Groups in Chile, Palestinian Diaspora in South America
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Palestinian community in Chile

Palestinian community in Chile
Total population
450,000 - 500,000[1]
Regions with significant populations
Santiago, La Calera
Spanish, Arabic
Orthodox Christianity, Catholicism and Sunni Islam[2]

The Palestinian community in Chile is believed to be the largest Palestinian community outside of the Arab world.[3] Estimates of the number of Palestinian descendants in Chile range from 450,000 to 500,000.[4][5][6] The effects of their migration are widely visible.[2]


  • Migration history 1
  • Religion 2
  • Community organisations 3
  • In literature 4
  • Notable people 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
    • Notes 7.1
    • Sources 7.2
  • External links 8

Migration history

The earliest Palestinian migrants came in the 1850s during the Crimean War; they worked as businessmen and also in agriculture. Other migrants arrived during World War I and later the 1948 Palestine war.[2] By origin they primarily came from the cities of Beit Jala, Bethlehem, and Beit Sahour.[7] Most of these early migrants were Christians. They typically landed at Argentine ports, and crossed the Andes by mule into Chile.[8] Chilean Palestinians are often erroneously but also intentionally called turcos (Spanish for Turks) after the Ottoman nationality that early immigrants had on their passports. Contrary to the immigration of Germans and other European nationalities, the immigration of Palestinians was not considered beneficial by Chilean intellectuals, and was even, alongside Chinese and Japanese immigration, questioned.[9] The arrival of the Palestinian immigrants to Chile in the early 20th century happened at the same time the Chilean state stopped sponsoring immigration to Chile and the country suffered a severe social and economic crisis coupled with a wave of nationalism with xenophobic and racist undertones.[9] Palestinians were also at times treated in denigrating terms by the Chilean press; for example, El Mercurio wrote in 1911:[9]

Many of the immigrants were very poor and illiterate and had to take loans to pay their travel costs.[9] Once in Chile, Palestinians settled largely in the marginal areas of cities and worked as small merchants.[9] In the 1950s by the time of the second government of Carlos Ibáñez del Campo many Palestinian-Chileans had acquired substantial economic as well as political power in Chile, some working as deputies, ministers or ambassadors.[9]

Aside from these migrants of previous decades, Chile has also taken in some Palestinian refugees in later years, as in April 2008 when it received 117 from the Al-Waleed refugee camp on the SyriaIraq border near the Al-Tanf crossing.[10] All of those refugees were Sunni Muslims.[9]


The vast majority of the Palestinian community in Chile follow Christianity, largely Orthodox Christian and some Roman Catholic, and in fact the number of

  • Escritores chilenos de origen arabe
  • Fundación Palestina Belén 2000-Chile
  • Federación Palestina de Chile
  • Unión General de Estudiantes Palestinos de Chile
  • Comerciante palestino en Patronato, an article from the Corporación del Patrimonio Cultural de Chile

External links

  • Samamé, María Olga (2003), "Transculturación, identidad y alteridad en novelas de la inmigración árabe hacia Chile", Revista Signos 36 (53): 51–73,  


  1. ^ Palestinos.
  2. ^ a b c d e Holston, Mark (2005-11-01), "Orgullosos palestinos de Chile", Américas,  
  3. ^ "Los palestinos miran con esperanza su futuro en Chile sin olvidar Gaza e Irak", El Economista, 2009-02-11, retrieved 2009-07-29 
  4. ^ 500.000 mil descendientes de palestinos en Chile.
  5. ^ Árabes en Chile
  6. ^ Palestinians
  7. ^ Samamé 2003, p. 52
  8. ^ Cerda, Claudio (2009-01-13), "In remote Chile, Palestinians pray for cease-fire", Reuters, retrieved 2009-08-02 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g La "Turcofobia". Discriminación anti-Árabe en Chile.
  10. ^ Henríquez, Andrea (2008-03-31), "Chile recibirá a refugiados palestinos", BBC World, retrieved 2009-07-29 
  11. ^ a b "Palestino lucha por la paz desde Patronato: Carlos Abusleme chantó banderas en honor a los caídos del pueblo libanés", La Cuarta, 2006-08-09, retrieved 2009-07-29 
  12. ^ "Palestinos inquietos por rayados ofensivos", Diario el Día, retrieved 2009-07-30 
  13. ^ Samamé 2003



See also

Notable people

A number of Chilean novels have featured Palestinian characters and discussed the experience of Palestinian immigrants in the country, such as El viajero de la alfombra mágica by Walter Garib, Los turcos by Roberto Sarah, and Peregrino de ojos brillantes, by Jaime Hales.[13]

In literature

A number of Palestinians in Chile have shown significant concern with 2006 Lebanon War; Lebanese and Palestinian flags were widely seen in the neighbourhood's streets at that time.[11] On another occasion, outside the Club Palestino and again in front of the Colegio Árabe, someone wrote on the sidewalk "Árabe=terrorismo" ("Arabs=terrorism") and "Palestina no existe" ("Palestine does not exist").[12]

The Club Palestino is one of the most prestigious social clubs in Santiago; it offers swimming, tennis, and dining facilities to its members. There is also a soccer team, C.D. Palestino, whose uniform is in the traditional Palestinian colours red, green, and white. The team has been champion of the Chilean Primera División twice.[2] Also, some Chilean-Palestinian footballers like Roberto Bishara and Alexis Norambuena have played for the Palestine national football team. Other Chileans of Palestinian origin, such as Luis Antonio Jiménez, played international football for Chile and several foreign clubs.

Community organisations


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