The importance in Latin America of persons moving in search of economic opportunity has been dramatized recently by battles between Honduran and Salvadoran troops. Some 14,000 Salvadorans were expelled by the country to which they had moved to supply needed manpower.
Although the immediate cause was a soccer dispute, the background of the war included residence in the more sparsely settled Honduras of perhaps 300,000 Salvadorans, self-exiled from their own densely packed country. A somewhat similar situation exists in Argentina, where hundreds of thousands of migrants from Bolivia, Chile, and Paraguay have been causing concern in recent years.
Migraciones internas in América Latina, written partly in Portuguese and partly in Spanish, concentrates on internal migrations in Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru. It seeks “la interpretación teológica” of what it estimates is an annual internal movement of around 5,000,000 persons, occurring in “inhuman, chaotic, and injust” forms. The editor sees the migrations as “una protesta inconsciente contra las arcaicas estructuras socio-económicas vigentes, especialmente del campo” (p. 103).
The report, financed by the World Council of Churches, contains excellent material on currents of internal migration resulting historically from speculative developments in Brazil, colonization connected with agrarian reform in Bolivia, and movement arising from social, economic, and political changes in Peru. The “action” sections are weak. There is no indication of either knowledge of or concern about one of the great problems of Latin America—the widespread resort to abortion by women ignorant of modern birth control techniques.
Far superior guides to action as well as other useful analyses are found in Philip M. Hauser, editor, Urbanization in Latin America (New York, 1961). Nevertheless, the work is another sign of increasing social conscience and demand for social action in the churches. The World Council of Churches, Geneva, has announced that an English edition is being published.