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Migration, the Media, and Responsibility in Chile
Some Thoughts and Proposals

by Ricardo Jiménez -

We have recently seen a television program on Chile’s national television channel, on the subject of immigration. In substance, it suggested that failing the approval of an “Immigration Law,” immigrants could bring about a explosion of social protest similar to those played out in France and other European countries these past few years. The traumatic images of the violence of those events and of others of the Chilean past were mixed with short interjections by authorities and people involved in some way or another in dealing with migration in Chile, to clothe the thesis as a prophetic possibility.

We shall not dwell on the enormous differences between the French-European cases and the Chilean one. These include, among many others, the number of immigrants, their places of origin, mostly from Africa or Turkey, and the enormous, religious, language and ethnic differences with the European population, as well as the deep scars left by the former colonial relationships. Neither shall we enter into the debate of what an “Immigration Law” really means, as if in fact there were not one already. These issues, important as such, are only the outer aspect of deeper, more harmful and more widespread problem that was expressed in the above-mentioned television show, and this is what we would like to discuss.

Ever since a new type of immigration has become a reality, that is to say, in the past two decades, it is the mass media that have been dealing with immigration, when accumulated experience and thinking on the subject has made it possible and necessary for everyone involved to strike a balance of meaning and propose conscious responsibility. This is not a proposal for a law or institution, of which there are already many and good ones albeit lacking the political will and the bold imagination to modernize and adapt them to the times. These are thoughts and proposals of our own, that is to say, of each and every one of us who feels a duty and responsibility of conscience as regards the way the media deals with immigration in Chile.

We are offering but a few suggestions, which we consider useful for a democratic and inclusive society, that is to say, a modern, healthy society in constant development. We are fully aware that this is no more than a single voice in a debate that is necessarily everyone’s and plural. A debate for all who feel responsible. On the other hand, we also know that it is a complex issue, which, given the current structural forces and conditions, does not allow for easy solutions. For this reason, it is submitted to the conscience, responsibility and possible action of each individual — much easier to reach — as a way to influence the mechanisms and hegemonic rationales of the current media.

The rest of this article is available only in its Spanish original

URL : www.alliance21.org/2003/article2002.html
PUBLICATION DATE: 20 February 2007