Chile can absorb between 1,000 and 1,500 Jewish immigrants annually, provided they know a trade, according to a report rendered to Hias by J. Lutzki, of Buenos Aires, who was sent to Chile by the Hias and other Jewish immigrant aid societies to study the possibilities of Jewish immigration there and report thereon.
Chile, reports Mr. Lutzki, has a total population of nearly four and a half million and is the only South American country that practically does not restrict immigration. The country is steadily growing and conditions are becoming more and more economically sound. There is no unemployment among skilled workers. There is a great demand for tailors who can earn between 20 and 30 Chilean pesos daily (which is considered a good wage) and for hat makers, electricians, plumbers, ladies’ tailors, upholsterers, bricklayers and others engaged in the building trades, all of whom can earn good wages as well. The climate of Chile is one of the best in the world, the atmosphere being practically dry.
Mr. Lutzki found that there are already in Chile between 1,000 and 1,200 Jewish families, of whom 200 are of Sephardic descent. Eight hundred families live in Santiago, the capital, which has a general population of 600,000, and the remainder are distributed in other cities. 99 per cent of the Jews are in business, the oldest settlers holding prominent places in the commercial world. The new arrivals, who are the friends and relatives of the older settlers, are engaged in peddling, mostly selling goods on the weekly installment plan. There are practically no Jewish workingmen to speak of. The remaining 1 per cent is composed of professional men, such as lawyers, doctors, engineers; these are the children of the early settlers.
Notwithstanding the small size of the Jewish community, it is well organized for religious, cultural, social and philanthropic purposes. In Santiago a Jewish Center which will cost around 1,000,000 pesos is being completed. In Valparaiso, which is the principal port of the country, and the second largest city, with a general population of 250,000 and which has 80 Jewish families, plans for erecting a central building are also being made. Mr. Lutzki had several conferences with the leaders of the Santiago and Valparaiso communities and succeeded in organizing an immigrant aid society in each.