By Julia Luise Tiemens
We are now witnessing a new phenomenon, where thousands of pregnant Russian women move to Argentina and give birth to their children there. If we further investigate what is behind this, we quickly notice the regulation that includes children born on Argentinian grounds receiving the citizenship and passport of the country automatically. Many Russian women use this law to promise their children a better life, happiness and a future in peace. However, this phenomenon goes way deeper than it seems at first sight and brings multiple problems with it, including the economic perspective and the health dangers.
In the last year 20.000 Russians have moved into Argentina; half of this figure being pregnant women. Since the European Union tightened its entry restrictions due to the war and introduced compulsory Visas, Argentina has become more attractive as a destination. No visa being needed, the ease of entering and the regulations inside the country drives many Russians to travel half of the globe. Many parents are looking for a way out for themselves, but mainly for the next generation. This concerns especially the ones that are young and have a good education. They follow a perspective that includes life being too beautiful to die in an unnecessary war. In Russia military service is compulsory, which led to many people making up excuses that regard health issues, like poor eyesight. After September last year when the war started in its tracks, nothing mattered anymore and everyone could be taken to defend the country. For many families this was a big push factor to escape. The Argentinian passport has the big advantage that it enables visa-free entry into 160 countries. This concerns not only the new-born child, but further the parents as they receive the right to live on Argentinian grounds and later apply for a citizenship. Many parents state that they do not even want the Russian passport for the kids, as they see no future for the regime under Putin’s leadership. Rather than returning at some point, they have the dream of promising their children a proper education and safe childhood with happiness. Here it doesn’t even matter for most couples that Argentina is in an economic crisis with inflation rates of almost 100 %.
One could ask, why is all of this problematic? Argentina declared that it is traditionally a migration country, where everyone is welcome. However they state it to be impossible for there to be mafia organizations that turn this into a business, by offering the Argentinian passport for high sums of money. This is now called “Birth tourism” and considered a profitable business. Agencies have emerged that offer the “full package” for 5000 US dollars and more. At this point many criminal networks have begun to be involved, where the women become the victims. Those networks are highly organized and thought through. The main concept established is one where the women receive fake papers that enable them to travel to South America. Here they are picked up from the airport and promised that after giving birth, they will be given proper papers, for which they have to sign away their power of attorney. Obviously, this is not true, however many are desperate enough to believe it and are being put into high danger, by traveling at this state of pregnancy. The agency “RuArgentina” for instance, organizes travel, birth, documents and embassy visits for pregnant Russian women. They take in return between 5000 and 15.000 US dollars. They justify what they do by talking about the help these women require in all different fields.
The other problem with this concept is the ease with which the passport can be obtained. To a certain extent this could call for a security crisis. There has already been the first case recorded by Slovenian Media, where two Russian spies have been arrested with Argentinian passports. If more cases like this occur, the Argentinian people will carry the consequences, which is why the pass has to be tighter and protected with all of its advantages. One of the possible consequences could be the loss in trust in the passport and other countries withdrawing their travel privileges. Throughout all this, we have to keep in mind that it is not illegal to come to Argentina to give birth, however a special visa is required.
The Argentinean government is very aware of these problems and risks. Their first response is the announcement that they will take citizenship more seriously. From now on it will be more closely monitored who is actually staying in the country and if this is not the case citizenships will be revoked. With this they are planning to avoid the loss of privileges and respect of Argentine passports. On top of this hospitals in Buenos Aires have been more prepared for the Russian births and learned increased vocabulary in Russian to be able to understand and provide better care. However, often the patients bring their own translator.
Furthermore, the government is more preoccupied with the search for the criminal organizations. Through the screening of houses, computers and phones there have been leads on who could be behind it, putting millions in their own pockets.
In conclusion one can say that we have to actively protect two things: The Argentinian passport and the victimized women. There is no blame that can be attributed to the women for wanting to leave their home, that is being eaten by war and promising their children a better future. However a safe and regularized way has to be established. This is once again a good example of how our rapidly changing world calls for new regulation and provides new issues.
Tagesschau. (2023, February 21). Schwangere Russinnen: Zur entbindung nach Buenos Aires. tagesschau.de. Retrieved February 23, 2023, from https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/amerika/schwangere-russinnen-argentinien-101.html
Dpa. (2023, February 12). Schwangere Russinnen Reisen zur Entbindung nach Argentinien. Berliner Zeitung. Retrieved February 23, 2023, from https://www.berliner-zeitung.de/news/geburt-tourismus-schwangere-russinnen-reisen-zur-entbindung-nach-argentinien-buenos-aires-li.316956
Zeit online. ZEIT ONLINE | Lesen Sie zeit.de mit Werbung oder im PUR-Abo. Sie haben die Wahl. (n.d.). Retrieved February 23, 2023, from https://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2023-02/argentinien-pass-russland-geburt?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F
Carignano, F. (n.d.). Geburtstourismus aus Russland? Argentinien Ermittelt. ZDF. Retrieved February 23, 2023, from https://www.zdf.de/nachrichten/politik/argentinien-russinnen-schwangere-geburtstourismus-100.html