Thousands of Chinese immigrants are pouring into Peru every year, lured by mafia promises of quick passage to the US.
But the American dreams of these young economic migrants often end in extortion, violence or abandonment on the side of the road or on a deserted beach.
This was the fate of 74 Chinese migrants sent back to Peru by Costa Rican authorities in October after being rescued from a boat that had been drifting for weeks and was about to sink into the Pacific Ocean.
Another 54 were found abandoned without food or documents in a cove near Talara in northern Peru last month after they were promised passage to the US through Central America.
According to the country's office of immigration, DIGEMIN, some 8,778 Chinese nationals entered the country legally last year, of which only 733 were then legally allowed to leave for the US.
"Most Chinese are legally entering the country on a [tourist] visa, and they mainly come from southern China," DIGEMIN director Diomedes Diaz said. "These people come here tricked by organizations with international links into thinking that paradise awaits them in the United States."
For these high-risk journeys, "the family or the mafia loans them the money," said Isabelle Lausent-Herrera, a researcher who specializes in Asian migration in Peru at the National Center for Scientific Research.
The migrants risk more than deportation. They often offer up family members who have remained behind in China as collateral, sell all their belongings or promise to work for years to repay their debts.
"They borrow from [Chinese] banks which specialize in this type of trafficking and have links to the mafia who ensure that those who don't repay in time are punished," Lausent-Herrera said.
In recent years, 43 percent of illegal Chinese migrants have come from Fujian Province, while a large portion also come from Guangdong Province.
"Ultimately, the Chinese are following the same path as was taken in the 19th century to enter the United States where they pass through Peru," Lausent-Herrera said.
Those wealthy enough to pay up to US$70,000 for transport, false documents and lodgings can secure a comfortable air passage from Peru to the US.
Typical migrants, however, usually pay US$15,000 to US$20,000 to find temporary work in Peruvian grocery stores, Chinese restaurants or casinos and risk violence, extortion, starvation and sickness on more dangerous land or sea routes.
While in Peru they blend easily into a Chinese community founded in the 19th century to harvest guano and which is now several hundred thousand people strong.
But Peruvian police say they are now overwhelmed with at least a dozen gangs shuttling illegal immigrants through their borders.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies