Russian baby boom in Argentina

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The war in Ukraine has been a headache for Russian citizens, affected by sanctions and financial restrictions against the government of Vladimir Putin. Traveling the world with a Russian passport or credit cards issued in that country has become a problem. In addition, the instability and economic crisis caused by the war have led many Russians to consider a smooth future outside their borders. A solution is found in Argentina and some other Latin American countries, such as Mexico or Brazil.

The Argentine immigration authorities have shown that the country has become a place where the so-called “birth tourism” is practiced. This February, six Russian women in an advanced state of pregnancy, who intended to enter as tourists, were detained at the Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires.

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At the end of January, two Russian spies were detained in Slovenia with Argentine passports.

Although the six women were finally able to enter the country, the detentions uncovered a phenomenon that the National Directorate of Migrations (DNM) says it had been investigating for a year.

The Argentine passport is ranked number 20 in the Henley Passport Index. According to this annual ranking, the document allows entry to 171 countries without a visa. And its achievement is practically automatic -upon request- for foreigners who are parents or spouse of an Argentine citizen. And to be the father of an Argentine, you simply have to have the baby born in the country, since like many states in the American continent the principle applies jus soliwhich automatically grants nationality to those born there.

At first, the figures offered by the DNM were very striking because they indicated that more than 10,000 Russian women had come to give birth in Argentina since the start of the war. Later, this data was rectified by the person in charge of the organization, Florencia Carignano, who said that there had been a confusion.

"We do not do pregnancy tests, nor do we ask these types of questions, whether they are pregnant or not, so we have no way of knowing," Carignano said a few days ago during a virtual meeting with journalists from foreign media.

Position 20 in the Henley Passport Index

The Argentine passport is one of the most coveted in the world, as it allows you to enter 171 countries without a visa.

In that same meeting, Carignano confirmed another piece of information that would have justified the retention of these women: the arrest at the end of January in Slovenia of two Russian spies with Argentine passports.

Although the Argentine government says it does not know how many Russian women have given birth in Argentina in the last year, the truth is that the increase in alleged Russian tourists is a fact. Argentina and Russia have an agreement whereby citizens of both countries can travel as tourists for 90 days.

Under this excuse, and always according to data from the DNM, between January 2022 and February of this year, 22,176 Russians entered Argentina, of which 10,777 women and 11,399 men. Of that number, 9,066 Russians remained in the country, of which 2,402 began the procedures to obtain residence. "The rest have probably gone directly to the federal court to opt for citizenship, they have not gone through Migrations," said Carignano, assuming that those 6,664 Russian citizens difference - between men and women - have directly opted to process the passport - in charge of Justice-, assuming also that they have been parents in Argentina.

One of the pregnant Russian citizens held at the Buenos Aires airport, finally leaving the Ezeiza terminal, on February 10

Martin Quintana / Clarin

"There are mafias behind and they are investigating what other crimes are behind this," explained the director of the DNM. “Single women with 33 weeks of pregnancy, did not even know how to say that they were going to take a walk around Buenos Aires; All these questions make you a false tourist for the immigration inspector because if you declare tourism and you don't have a hotel, you don't have a return ticket, you don't know where you are going to do tourism, basically you are lying about your income, ”she added.

Carignano also explained that residence checks were carried out on 33 women who arrived as tourists and only three were found at the addresses they gave when they entered. “It is not their will to stay in Argentina, but to obtain a passport to go to other places, open bank accounts, everything that an Argentine passport allows you,” he added.

Exponential increase in Russian "tourists"

In January 2022, 1,037 Russians arrived in Argentina, while in the same month of 2023, 4,523 entered.

Without being certain of the number of Russian births in Argentina, nor of how many Russian citizens are applying for nationality, the truth is that the increase in income to the country is exponential. If you compare the month of January of this year with the previous one, it is clear. In January 2022, 1,037 Russians arrived in Argentina, while in the same month of 2023, 4,523 entered.

The accusation that there are "mafias" behind this increase is being investigated by federal judge María Servini de Cubría, the same one who is handling the cases against the crimes of Francoism that cannot be investigated in Spain, such as the execution of President Lluís Companys. . according to the newspaper Clarion, there are companies that charge between 15,000 and 35,000 dollars to guarantee an Argentine passport to Russian citizens through “birth tourism”. That money includes all the necessary red tape.

One of these companies advertises itself with a drawing of a penguin, as if it were a stork, holding a bundle with an Argentine passport in its beak. “Second fastest parent passport in the world! Organization of childbirth and assistance in procedures”, reads the announcement in Russian.

Since the matter was uncovered, many Russians who have emigrated to Argentina in the last year with the desire not only to obtain a passport but also to establish themselves have also paraded through the Argentine media. Normally, these are middle-class professionals who have jobs that they can do remotely and who come to Argentina attracted by the climate, the human warmth and also, they say, because they are against the drift that Putin's Russia has taken.

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