There were several major waves of emigration from Lebanon to South America starting in the late 1800’s due to the 1860 conflict in Lebanon.
The ruling parties at the time intentionally passed laws to “punish” these emigrants, denying them the automatic right of return to Lebanon – making it near impossible to pass the nationality to their children.
Despite several generations in South America and the Lebanese language not being passed on to the children, there still maintains a strong Lebanese ethnic identity.
Brazil alone is home to the most number of Lebanese people in the world, including Lebanon. Estimates range from 7 million up to 12 million Lebanese descendants.
Hence why the website is available in Portuguese.
Other Latin American countries:
Argentina – 1.5 million
Venezuela – 500,000
Mexico – 500,000+
Colombia – 700,000+
Ecuador – 250,000
Dominican Republic – 100,000
Uruguay – 70,000
Caribbean – 550,000
Rest of Latin America: ~200,000
Excluding Brazil, there’s about 4.5 million Lebanese living in Latin America – which is about the same number living in Lebanon.
The focus is on the Latin American countries since they are the “furthest” away, both physically and in terms of linguistic/culture barriers.
This initiative reaches out to Lebanese all over the world including USA, Canada, Australia and throughout the African continent.
The website cites people who’ve wanted to reclaim their Lebanese nationality:
“My parents are from Lebanon but I have never been there. I want to connect with my parents’ home country…”
as well as
“My Lebanese heritage is part of who I am. It may not define all of me, but it’s a crucial part that I want to discover…”
Benefits of reclaiming the Lebanese nationality:
The right to own property in Lebanon, without prior authorization or limitation regarding the surface or the number of lots to acquire
The right to invest and establish a business in Lebanon
The rights to the privileges of the free-trade Markets agreements between Lebanon and many Arab countries
The right to work and to establish commercial activities in Lebanon
The right to reside in Lebanon permanently, with no need for entry visa or residence permit
The right to join the public administration service in Lebanon, whether military or civil positions
Tax exemption on furniture, in case of moving to Lebanon
Inheritance rights in Lebanon, with no condition of reciprocity
The right to free education including primary, secondary and university studies
The right to the health-care benefits
The right to social security
The right to vote at municipal and legislative elections
The right to be a candidate for any political position (legislative, municipal…)
The right to be appointed to any political or official function (diplomatic, ministerial…)
Benefits For Lebanon
Better representation of all Lebanese
Currently, 30% of Lebanon’s GDP consists of Lebanese who live abroad sending money to Lebanon. This number will increase.
Lebanese living abroad given the right to vote will help influence the election of new representatives and could break the cycle of reelecting the same politicians over and over again.
The process is quite simple. The website allows you to check if you’re eligible and lets you begin the process of applying for the Lebanese nationality. After applying, you’re linked to the nearest Lebanese diplomatic mission.
When your file is submitted, you can to check your application through an app. Every step of the way, you will be notified via the app about the update.