For Latin Americans seeking work abroad, traditional magnets like the United States and Spain are losing their appeal because of weak economies, said a report released Thursday.
Instead, more and more are looking to countries such as Canada, Japan, South Korea and Australia, according to the study by the Organization of American States.
In the case of Spain, just 550,000 Latin Americans emigrated there between 2008 and 2010, down 38 percent from 2005 to 2007. Spain is mired in recession, drowning in debt and saddled with an unemployment rate exceeding 25 percent.
In the US, the number of legal immigrants slipped by four percent over the same stretch, and the decrease was even more pronounced among those who lack proper residency papers, the study said.
But over the same period, the number of Latin Americans heading to European countries other than Spain rose 14 percent, and to non-European members of the OECD, such as Canada, Japan, South Korea and Australia, by eight percent.
"In the face of falling job opportunities in Spain and the United States, immigrants from the Western Hemisphere have begun to look elsewhere," said Georges Lemaitre, an international migration expert at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
And despite weak economic conditions abroad, Latin American emigration remained at a relatively high level, with more than three million people leaving the region in the period 2008-2010, the study said.
"We are a continent of migrants. That is a fact, and remains so despite complex circumstances," said OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza.