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Mac Margolis

Chile Faces Latin America’s Migrant Future

Once again, immigration is remaking the Western Hemisphere’s southern flank.

Port-au-Prince meets Santiago.

Port-au-Prince meets Santiago.

Photographer: Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images

Every weekday, starting around 10:30, Josi Ramirez rolls her Styrofoam container full of baked snacks to a metro stop in Santiago’s Estacion Central, the fast-growing city district that is reshaping the Chilean capital. “Chicken arepas, empanadas, fresh and hot!” she calls out, flogging her Venezuelan treats to commuters hustling to remake themselves in a strange land.

Famed for its shimmering office towers, smart shops and arbored plazas, Santiago is a postcard for cosmopolitan Latin America. Yet it is here among the city’s “vertical ghettos” — artless high-rises, stacked one after another on denuded lots, and teeming with foreigners like Josi — that the future of this Andean metropolis, and perhaps of the region itself, is playing out.