Monday, June 21, 2010

Travel restrictions in an economic collapse‏

Hello Ferfal,
You mentioned in your book and blog that it is a good idea to have country B and C ready to move to in case country A (the one you are currently in) goes into trouble. Also you mentioned about getting European passports for yourself and your family.
What about those who can only get passports of their home country (country A)? Based on your experience in Argentina, did this group of people (native Argentineans) face difficulties in going overseas during the economic collapse. I imagine the government would want to limit the efflux of brains and money out of the country. I am sure the elite would have their ways to get around such restrictions (if any) but what about the man in the street?
Thanks for answering.

Hi Ken,
Interesting question and sorry for the delay in replying.
Those of us that had our passports ready could travel more easily, those that had to ask for visas or apply for citizenship had a hard time.

My grandpa, a pretty smart man, he made sure we applied for our Spanish citizenship “just in case” and took us himself when my parents where to busy with other things. I was about 18 years old at the time, and I remember we just walked into the embassy, we had no lines to do, no waiting. A few years later, specially after 2001, people would form lines that went around the block, some waited for DAYS to get their applications in and get information. You see, anyone can leave a country, but what do you do for a living when you get to your destination? Having the citizenship ensured that you would find a descent paying job, at least in those days.

Of course the most extreme case is just closing the borders but that’s pretty extreme. It can happen of course, but it’s a more far fetched situation. A much less controversial measure is to just make it very, very hard for you to leave: Expensive tickets few can afford in the first place, taxes if you intend to take with you anything that could be considered of artistic value. Making you wait for months until they issue you the Argentine passport needed to leave the country, “loosing” it after shipping it to you. All that ensures that the amount of people that actually manage to leave are pretty few indeed.

That’s why I recommend having your passport, possible locations and other plans for leaving the country ready BEFORE things get that crazy and everyone is trying to do the same thing.
For college students, ask for reports of your grades every year in case you want to leave after SHTF and everyone else is asking for the same thing. How about your cell phone? What do you need for it to work abroad? Ask those things now. What would you need if you where planning to leave? Think of what you would need now and work on it while you have the time. Even if you never leave its good mental practice getting your ducks in a row will make things easier if you ever have to leave for real.

The man in the street as you say, he had a much harder time. First of all, he didn’t have enough savings to leave in most cases. Even those that had some, they couldn’t take it out of the bank, and when they finally could, they only have 25%-33% of what they used to have. Plane tickets kept their international price in dollars, so they went up in price accordingly. 

If average Joe had EU citizenship, he was the luckiest guy in the block. Those that had a father or grandparent to get it from, they were lucky but not nearly as lucky as the guy that had it already. Those guys had to wait for years before they got their because everyone suddenly started the paperwork to get it and the offices couldn’t handle that much people. Other just went with a tourist’s visa and stayed there illegally afterwards. Those guys were always worried about being deported and working for less than minimum wage because of their illegal status.
Get busy now, just in case.



Anonymous said...

Got Italian Citizenship in 2002. I remember them telling me (in New York!) that they were swamped b/c of the Argentina crowd applying.... yup, it reached that far abroad.

p.s. It took me 7 years to get Italian citizenship (through grandfather)... a long time. Friggin' inefficient and difficult, the Italians but hey, now I'm one of them (and fluent through my own efforts). Learn languages, folks, won't hurt.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...what is one to do if one has to reach back to GREAT-grandparents to find foreign birth? I worry about it a lot-I have great-grandparents from Switzerland and the Czech Republic, but all my grandparents were born in the US. I suspect I'm S*** Out of Luck, unless there's a loophole somewhere.