Palestinian community in Chile

  (Redirected from Palestinian Chilean)

The Palestinian community in Chile (Arabic: فلسطينيو تشيلي‎) 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]

Palestinian community in Chile
Total population
450,000 - 500,000 (about a 2.5% of the population of 18 million)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Santiago, La Calera
Spanish, Arabic
Orthodox Christianity 50%, Catholicism 45% and Sunni Islam 5%[2]
Related ethnic groups
Arab Chileans

Migration historyEdit

Flags of Chile and Palestine.

The earliest Palestinian migrants came in the 1850s during the Crimean War, fleeing due to Russia's intent to capture and control the Holy Land. They worked mainly 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] Immigrants were also at times treated in highly denigrating terms by the Chilean press; for example, El Mercurio wrote in 1911:[9]

Whether they are Mohammedans or Buddhists, who one can see and smell from far, is that they are more dirty than the dogs of Constantinople...

— El Mercurio, April 13, 1911.

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]

People who solely hold a Palestinian Authority passport are refused entry to Chile.[11]


The vast majority of the Palestinian community in Chile follow Christianity even though most Palestinian are Muslim. The largest denomination are Orthodox Christian followed by Roman Catholic, and in fact the number of Palestinian Christians in the diaspora in Chile alone exceeds the number of those who have remained in their homeland.[2] One early Palestinian church in Santiago, the Iglesia Ortodoxa San Jorge, was founded in 1917.[12]

Community organisationsEdit

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.

A number of Palestinians in Chile have shown significant concern with the situation of Palestine, for example, the president of the Cámara de Comercio (chamber of commerce) of the Barrio Patronato, himself a Palestinian, in 2006 organised a protest regarding the 2006 Lebanon War; Lebanese and Palestinian flags were widely seen in the neighbourhood's streets at that time.[12] 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").[13]

In literatureEdit

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.[14]

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Palestinos. Archived 2012-01-27 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b c d e Holston, Mark (2005-11-01), "Orgullosos palestinos de Chile", Américas (in Spanish), ISSN 0379-0975, retrieved 2009-07-29
  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. Archived 2009-07-22 at the Wayback Machine
  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. ^ "Cuadro de visas y aranceles" (PDF). Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile (in Spanish). Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ "Palestinos inquietos por rayados ofensivos", Diario el Día, archived from the original on 2011-07-07, retrieved 2009-07-30
  14. ^ Samamé 2003


External linksEdit