By Florencia Betancor, Economist (UdelaR).

There are few Colombians that I had the chance to meet during my life. Still, the ones that I had the pleasure of dealing stood out for their kindness and courtesy, an aspect that seems to be shared by those born in that country.

In recent years, Uruguay has received a constant flow of Colombians. Between 2015 and 2019, more than 3,000 residences were granted to people of that nationality.

Some come here to study. Others to create their own business. Many were transferred by the company they work for. They come here to build a new life, seeking to make progress. And, most important, with new ideas.

During the field research for the report “CERES Analyses – A Republic of Immigrants” last December, I met Melissa. She is a Colombian who, along with four other compatriots, created an entity called Conexión Colombia-Uruguay. This initiative aims to help and make Colombians living in our country visible while promoting Colombia in Uruguay, and Uruguay in Colombia.

It is a broad organization that seeks to support students, businesspeople, entrepreneurs, and those in need of urgent help because they live in unfavorable conditions in a foreign country.

It is a clear example of self and autonomous organization that unveils how positive immigration can be for developing relations between countries. How much easier will it be for a Colombian to settle in Uruguay if having a reference like this?

Immigration can strengthen integration between nations, foster international relations, and have other effects rather than the arrival of so-called “human capital” in the receiving country.

Public policies should go in that line: creating effective conditions of “open arms” while promoting initiatives encouraged by the residents. Seeking and taking advantage of connecting with other countries—a benefit that immigration offers—would favor Uruguay’s development and benefit the migration phenomenon itself, including its positive consequences.