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he Central American Jesuit Service for Migrants (SJM) is a work of the Society of Jesus that was founded to support

and defend the rights of migrants and their families in their countries of origin, transit and destination. It was created in 2004 as a Central American network that inserted itself into wider networks. It established links with other Jesuit institutions working with migrants, including high schools, universities, research institutes, parishes, radio stations and journals, in each of the regions countries. The Central American Jesuit Service for Migrants puts special emphasis on three dimensions: research, socio-pastoral attention and advocacy regarding migratory policies and public opinion. SJMs investigations are born of an ethical option and commitment and try to ensure that their methods, concerns and findings intersect with and are at the service of the socio-pastoral work and advocacy, without sacrificing academic standards. In order to add its efforts to those already existing, SJM participates in networks made up of civil society organizations and other important actors in each of the regions countries via active collaboration in national roundtables and forums and other relevant arenas linked to the migratory phenomenon. It has also taken on the task of strengthening its links with the Central American Jesuit Service for Migrants in Mexico and North and South America by implementing common actions. SJM applauds and joins with genuinely committed efforts to protect and defend the human rights of migrants and their families, and is a loyal standardbearer in repudiating all manifestations of xenophobia and discrimination.


eople have become Central Americas prime export product. Although market fundamentalism insists day after day that liberalization offers the key to accessing the future and well-being, emigration is an increasingly relevant structural dimension of Central American societies. It is estimated, for example, that between 20 and 25 percent of El Salvadors population lives abroad, as does 15 percent of Nicaraguas population, in the latter case mainly in Costa Rica or the United States. Even Costa Rica itself, traditionally a receiving country, is beginning to figure among the expelling societies. Between 2 and 3 percent of Costa Ricas population currently lives in the United States. A Region Torn Apart, The Dynamics of Migration in Central America, is a collection of articles originally published over the past four years in envo, a monthly analytical magazine of Nicaraguas Central American University. Their author, Jos Luis Rocha Gmez, one of the most incisive analysts of Nicaraguan and Central American reality, recognized that emigration is not a marginal issue for Nicaraguan society, a position that contrasts markedly with the indifference of many of his compatriots. Jos Luis has not only undertaken to study Central Americas migratory dynamics, but has also been the main impetus behind the investigative emphasis in the Central American Jesuit Service for Migrants (SJM), a regional initiative that also promotes political-organizational advocacy and accompaniment of the migrant communities. The Central American SJM owes a great deal to the talent and stubborn determination of Jos Luis, who had the vision to recognize that above and beyond the difficulties of institutionally consolidating the initiative there is a need to contribute to an understanding of the migratory dynamics with an institutional platform on a regional scale.

While the Central American elites construct networks and consensus about their project for the region, critical and solidarity initiatives find it difficult to attain a regional scope. It is hard to build regional networks and dialogues in the institutional vacuum left by weakened public universities. In this context, the SJM and other Jesuit initiatives are starting to offer an arena for dialogue and action. A Region Torn Apart inaugurates the series Studies of the Central American Diaspora, through which the Central American SJM will make recent investigations available to the regions public. The SJM has been benefited by the cooperation of the Swedish Lutheran Churches mission (Svenska kyrkan misin, SKM) and the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), which has made it possible for working teams from Guatemala to Panama to concern themselves with the migrations both triggered and accompanied by hunger. A Region Torn Apart is organized into seven chapters. The first reviews the conceptual approaches or perspectives frequently employed to study migrations. It discusses the neoclassical approaches, the segmented markets perspective and the world systems theory, among others, comparing them with Nicaraguan migration. The second chapter comments on some contributions by intellectuals and politicians to the migratory debate in the United States. It discusses, for example, Samuel Huntingtons thesis regarding the erosion of white Anglo-Saxon Protestant identity as a consequence of the Latin threat. It also looks at the recent mobilizations of millions of Latin American men and women, who have made it clear that We arent terrorists, were workers. The third chapter reveals the absence of public migration policies in Nicaragua. The author underscores how remittances are turning into the issue par excellence, putting the money emigrants send in the public eye, but ignoring the reasons that obliged them to leave their country. The fourth chapter argues that migration is not explained only by factors associated with population density or labor markets, but that historical and sociocultural factors are also at play. It also analyzes the support and information networks that intervene in the migratory dynamics. The fifth chapter analyzes

the images that the studies have constructed of migrants. The issue of remittances is taken up again, pointing out that they make a very relevant contribution to the national accounts, which, let it be said, have ceased being national. There are also studies of trafficking in people, and of the special vulnerability of women and children. In this chapter the author takes note of the swarm of experts and consultants on the issue who are trying to fill the vacuum left by impoverished universities lacking in long-term projects. The sixth chapter analyses how the financing agencies interests determine the research agendas. In particular, the author explores the case of the relationship between migration and AIDS, a devastating illness but one whose purported link to migrations is not well-demonstrated; in fact, there is a risk of reproducing images of purity and fear of contagion. The books seventh and final chapter analyzes demographic and ideological changes related to migration in the United States. There have always been immigrants; in fact, there were even more in the early 20th century than at the start of this century: 12 percent and 10 percent respectively. But while European immigration predominated previously, those migrating to the United States now are mainly Latin and Asian. So whats new is not the number but the ideological context in which the migratory issue is debated. Taken as a whole, the book offers interpretative keys to understanding Central American migrations, but it was spurred on by the profound injustices that precede and accompany those migrating. In other words, it is the product of both an analytical and interpretive motivation and an ethical one. It is about understanding, but also about listening to and helping end the hunger that is tearing Nicaragua and the rest of Central America apart. The books publication in both Spanish and English makes it accessible to a broad spectrum of readers. In particular, A Region Torn Apart invites Nicaraguas political class to recognize that even though hundreds of thousands of people have been driven out of Nicaragua by hunger in the past twenty years, the migration issue remained

sidelined or else was converted into facile sloganeering even in the 2006 general elections. There were candidates, for example, who during the campaign promised to repatriate the Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica, even though they have never so much as gone there to talk with them. A Region Torn Apart aspires to become an uncomfortable testimony for a leadership class that agreed to ignore a diaspora fed by hunger. As Leoncia, one of thousands of Nicaraguan women who have migrated, wrote in her 1999 autobiography*: We poor exist only when theyre in an electoral campaign, for our desired and hungered-after vote, and after we bring them to power, they forget to fulfill the promises. Thats why I now think you have to be pretty ingenuous to give them your vote, because the politicians are the wealthiest, and were the poorest, they who make interplanetary trips and we who migrate through thousands of difficulties, they all fattened up and we so skinny, with eyes almost sunk in our heads from hunger, skeletal children dying in the streets of my countrys towns and all the government does is use us as grist for its mill. I want to pass down a better future to my children where theres no inequality and they have opportunities where they can feel they made their dreams come true, and not only for my own kids but for all the generations to come. If my story isnt coherent, I apologize, but the thing is that I live here stressed out by the treatment they give us, always without that hospitality we migrants hoped for. Decades ago we learned that we had to give a voice to the voiceless. Leoncia and thousands of other migrants remind us that theyve always had a voice. The problem has been our inability to listen to it. In a word, A Region Torn Apart is an urgent and indispensable contribution to listening and dialoguing about the Central America we so profoundly want. Carlos Sandoval Garca Universidad de Costa Rica October 2006

Cmo me siento en Costa Rica? Autobiografas de Nicaragenses. San Jos: Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales, Universidad de Costa Rica, Serie Documentos, No. 2000.

Nothing is as practical as a good theory. (Kurt Lewin) Every point of view is the view of a point. (Leonardo Boff)

any research studies have sought to reveal the characteristics of those who emigrate: whether they are better or worse prepared than those who stay behind, whether they are poorer or better off, if they participated in or were indifferent to community organizations, if social mobility was having an adverse effect or just impeding the satisfaction of their social expectations Some studies have even used such profiles to calculate the probabilities of a determined segment of the population or community leaving the country. But it is just as important to know why emigrants exist. Why do they leave at certain historical moments? What springboard catapults them abroad? What siren or mirage lures them away or what invisible hand or rude kick pushes them to leave family, friends, language and habits to face emotional scarring as they travel thousands of miles in extremely risky conditions only to reduce their social status and face racial and residential segregation? All of these questions could be condensed into one: why are so many people in the world caught up in the migration trend? Many theories, approaches and disciplines have attempted to provide an answer, some of them from a supposedly aseptic scientific position and others based on openly confessed political options. The vigorous nature of this human mobility and the many recent changes in its form add to the importance and potential controversy of any answers today.

MORE NICAS EMIGRATED IN THE LAST DECADE International migrations have experienced noticeable changes over the last 30 years. For a start, their volume has increased. In the United States alone, immigrants have gone from representing 4.7% of the population in 1970 and 6.2% in 1980, to 11.5% in 2002 (Camarota, 2002, p.2). Nicaragua is one of the nations whose out-migration has most increased in the last 10 years. Of the total number of emigrants recorded by Nicaraguans Living Standards Measurement Survey in 2001, 71.5% left between 1994 and 2001, 53% of them in the last four years of that period (Instituto Nacional de Estadsticas

y Censos [INEC], 2001 b).* This explains our accelerated and growing presence in the two migratory destinations most preferred by Nicaraguans: Costa Rica (53%) and the United States (34.6 %). While the US census registered 44,166 Nicaraguans during the eighties (INEC, 1992, p.27), its 2000 census detected 177,000 (US Census Bureau, 2000 a); an increase of over 300%. The Costa Rican censuses during the same period show a jump from 45,885 (INEC, 1992, p.27) to 226,374 Nicaraguans, a 393% increase (Castro, 2002, p.190). Nicaraguans went from representing 1.9% of all ordinary residents in Costa Rica in 1984 to 5.9% in 2000, at the same time increasing from half to two thirds of all foreign residents in that country (Castro, 2002). And we know that there are far more Nicaraguans in Costa Rica who were not registered by this census and even more seasonal migrants who enter and leave Costa Rica along undetectable paths. A WHOLE RANGE OF THEORIES PROVIDE PARTIAL EXPLANATIONS A look at worldwide population movements reveals that the sources of migration have switched from Europe to Latin America, Africa and Asia. European countries, which traditionally supplied migrants, have suddenly become receivers, a reluctantly swallowed novelty that shapes them into multiethnic, culturally enriched societies while generating unanticipated challenges. The fact that this is occurring in all industrialized countries demonstrates the pull and the coherence of the underlying forces. Unfortunately, this abrupt migratory explosion has caught social and political scientists and the disciplines of law and demography unawares. No less surprised are the politicians, journalists, migration officials and citizens of the host countries, who find themselves devoid of any suitable discourse or concepts. The most commonly adopted reactions have been indifference, an improvised demagogy devoid of any consistent theoretical references and iron-fisted policies aimed at putting the brakes on human mobility. There is still no migration theory that pieces together a total explanation. Instead, we find ourselves faced with a whole range of theories that are often segmented according to different disciplines. Several of these are relevant to the case of Nicaraguans who have emigrated. I will refer to the authors who are most representative of the theories and to their synthesis by US sociologist Douglas Massey et al. (1993, pp.431-466), bearing in mind the wise maxim of Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff cited at the beginning of this article. The various theories operate on different levels of analysis that are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In fact, the causal processes and their variables operate simultaneously on various levels. And although it is important to know which approach has a greater empirical validation, one discovers along the way just how difficult it is to isolate certain variables and find univocal correlations. This is particularly true in a country like

Calculations based on information from INEC.

Nicaragua, all of whose shortages, features and mechanisms converge to make us such a major league expeller of migrants that we validate almost any model. Each approach, however, has very different implications for policy formulation, making it very important to analyze what unique aspect it has to offer and its relevance to a particular country. NEOCLASSICAL MACROECONOMIC THEORY: THEY LEAVE IN SEARCH OF BETTER SALARIES The oldest theory on migration focused on explaining the role labor migrations played in development processes. According to this theory, external and internal migrations are caused by geographical differences between the supply and demand of labor. In the case of international migrations, countries with an enormous labor force relative to their capital have a low equilibrium in their wage market, diametrically opposed to that of countries with a small labor force and large amounts of capital. The wage differences activate the migratory flow, according to this theory, with workers traveling from countries with low wages to those with high ones, with a resulting fall in the labor supply in the country with low wages, which causes them to begin to rise. The country with high wages experiences a change in the opposite direction, with labor multiplying and wages falling. Internationally, posits this theory, a situation close to equilibrium is produced. The persisting wage differences merely reflect the pecuniary and even psychic costs of the migratory movement. The neoclassical theory also states that capital sometimes circulates in the opposite direction. Money often travels from rich countries to poor ones with very high return rates on investment. Human capital sometimes moves in that direction as well. Thus highly qualified workers, like the international consultants based in Nicaragua, move from developed countries towards those with limited human capital and their skills are very well rewarded. Here Massey et al. (1993) insist on distinguishing between the flow of international labor and the flow associated with human capital: even the most aggregated figures of the macro-level models must clearly recognize the heterogeneity of the immigrants professional qualifications. While this is a valid point, its pertinence needs to be judged in each case. For example, skilled workers do not always migrate because of a shortage of human capital in the host country. In Nicaragua, for example, international organizations often create demand out of home-country affinity, without taking into account the real dimensions of our shortage of human capital one way or another. According to Massey et al. (1993), the neoclassical macroeconomic theory of migrations has strongly influenced public opinion and provided the intellectual foundations for most migratory policies. We read and hear about it in the media and studies by many researchers categorically conclude that Nicaraguans migrate because of low wages at home.

Massey et al. identify (1993) various propositions and assumptions implicit in this perspective. First, it is assumed that because the international migration of workers is caused by wage differences between countries, the elimination of these differences will put an end to labor migration. The exception to this rule are the international flows of highly qualified workers, whose rate of return is much higher than average and thus generates a migratory pattern opposite to that of non-qualified workers. NICAS EARN $204 HERE AND $253 IN COSTA RICA This theory sustains that labor markets are the fundamental mechanism for inducing international labor flows and that other kinds of markets do not affect those flows in any significant way. A corollary of this approach is the policy associated with it, based on the idea that governments in the countries of destination that view migration in a negative light can control migratory flows by regulating and influencing their labor markets. This theory also implies that the countries of destinationand their less qualified workers in particularmust fear these migrant waves because of the wage reduction they inevitably entail. The role of the US media in fanning such xenophobic labor panic has been magisterially described by Leo R. Chvez in his book Cubriendo la inmigracin: Imgenes populares y la poltica de la nacin. US magazines recurrently predict that the struggle between whites and blacks (Afro-Americans) will be replaced by a confrontation between blacks and browns (Latin Americans) competing for the same jobs. Due to the very simplicity of this approach, it is easy to find basic figures that support it with respect to Nicaragua. According to World Bank figures, Nicaraguas annual per capita income fell from US$800 at the beginning of the eighties to $340 at the beginning of the nineties. Following a modest recovery, per capita income was just $430 in 1999 (Funkhouser, Prez & Sojo, 2003, p.73). The officially established minimum wage in Nicaragua is just $60 a month, whereas in neighboring Costa Rica it is $223 (Rocha, 2002, p.20). In addition, Costa Rica has a far greater capacity to ensure that the minimum wage is respected and in fact the countrys economic situation allows it to be exceeded. According to Carlos Castro Valverde (2002, pp.214-215) of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), the average monthly income of Nicaraguan immigrants in Costa Rica is $253, which is 30% below the average income of Costa Ricans but 17% higher than the average monthly wage ($204) in Nicaragua. NEOCLASSICAL MICROECONOMIC THEORY: THEY LEAVE DUE TO A COST-BENEFIT CALCULATION These wage figures are important, but they do not encompass the true complexity of the migration-activating dynamic. So what does the microeconomic branch of neoclassi14

cal theory have to say on the matter? A microeconomic model closely associated with its macroeconomic cousin deals with individual choice. Individuals decide to migrate based on a cost-benefit calculation that leads them to expect a net gain by doing so. From this perspective, migration appears as an investment, and a very costly one at that. To obtain better wages, migrants invest in the material costs of the journey and then risk their lives. They also assume the costs of their own maintenance until they find work, and perhaps even those of the family they left behind, plus the costs of depriving their familywife or husband, (often young) children and (often old) parentsof their presence and monetary and emotional support; and of racial discrimination in the country of destination. Finally, they must also be prepared to face possible isolation there, the effort of learning another language and culture, adaptation to a new labor market and the psychological costs of cutting off old links and forging new ones. This model has even generated equations to work out the expected net returns of migration. It is calculated just before departure as a function of the probability of avoiding deportation, finding work and the income resulting from that job in the new countryfrom which must be deducted the probability of finding work and the wages they can earn in the community of origin, as well as the total costs, psychological ones included, involved in migrating. If the expected net return is positive, people supposedly decide to emigrate; and if it is negative, they will stay in their community. If it is neither positive nor negative, the person in question will be undecided about whether to stay or go. Unlike the macroeconomic model, this perspective includes both employment rates (not just wage rates) and features corresponding to human capital (education, experience, training, knowledge of the language) as incentives for emigrating. The probability of emigrating is influenced by both individual and social characteristics, a set of elements that means that individuals from the same country may have different inclinations to migrate. As can be appreciated in the Nicaraguan documentary on emigration to Costa Rica, Desde el barro al sur (lvarez & Hernndez, 2002), older women have fewer possibilities of finding work in our southern neighbor and are therefore less inclined to emigrate. Only 5.5% of the total number of female emigrants are older than 45. Almost 40% of the women who go to Costa Rica are aged between 17 and 25, a range of just 8 years (INEC, 2001 b). A large percentage of them work as domestics, a job for which young women are preferred. NICARAGUANS ARE MOVED BY HUNGER, RUMORS, MYTHS, EXPECTATIONS AND SERIOUS DESPERATION The neoclassical microeconomic approach assumes that migratory flows between countries are the sum of individual decisions based on the cost-benefit calculation.
Calculations based on information from INEC.

It also assumes that migrations are not divorced from the diversity of employment and wage rates, that the expected net return determines the migrant flow between countries, that the labor marketand none otherdirectly influences the decision to migrate and that governments can control migration through policies that affect expected income in the expelling and receiving countries. Such policies include imposing sanctions on employers in the country of destination to reduce the probabilities of finding employment, promoting programs to increase wages in the country of origin or even pushing up the material and psychological costs of migration through migratory controls and deportation. The costs and risks involved obviously do make a difference, which is why there are more Nicaraguans in Costa Rica (53% of Nicaraguan emigrants) than in the United States (34.6%), although the latter is more attractive due to its high salaries and the cultural draw activated through its cinema, television, music, currency, consumer goods, etc. But costs and the labor markets as measured by their employment and wage rates are not the only things that matter. Things are simply not that rational for many emigrants. A large number are fleeing enemies or the law, many women are as good as kidnapped by a new love and more than a few people are encouraged by rather unfounded expectations. The poorest must opt for destinations that may end up frustrating because they cant make the kind of money they dreamed of there, as happened to a 22-year-old Nicaraguan agricultural technician who went to El Salvador to work as a hacienda laborer and returned with less money that he left with. Many others have had similarly frustrating experiences, although El Salvador remains the third most popular destination for Nicaraguans. In other words, it is not just a question of comparing income or the probability of finding work. This cost-benefit calculation includes the comparison of personal security in one country against another, along with the stories, accounts and rumors that circulate and fuel expectations and the myths and other ravings of national politics. Desperation is a variable seldom considered. Hunger produces despairing people. More than refugees and political asylum seekers, Nicaraguan politics produces desperate utopian refugees. Very few people are prepared to put their money on Nicaragua and some have even declared it unviable. But perhaps the greatest weakness of this theory is that it does not include the interests of those who go so they can invest in their families and by extension in their communities of origin. It ignores the most widespread strategy behind the desire to increase ones income. THE NEW MIGRATION ECONOMICS THEORY: THEY LEAVE AS PART OF A FAMILY STRATEGY The new migration economics approach has questioned some of the assumptions of the neoclassical perspective. It proposes that the decision to emigrate is not taken by

isolated individuals, but rather by units of related peoplefamilies and householdswho not only seek to maximize income, but also to minimize risks and eliminate the restrictions associated with a variety of market defects. The families send some of their members away to diversify their sources of income, reduce their risks and make new investments. When local conditions deteriorate, the households survive thanks to the remittances sent back by family members who left and are living abroad. This theory has most influenced those studying the impact of family remittances, offering them an appropriate framework for many of their assumptions. Developed countries have government programs, insurance companies and credit programs that allow households to minimize their risks and make new investments. Poor people from underdeveloped countries have to seek other options because such institutional mechanisms do not exist, are inaccessible or are too expensive for them. The labor market is not the only market that determines migration flows, as these institutional vacuums that stimulate emigration are also market defects. Thus credit markets, social compensation programs, insurance markets and unemployment security benefits in the receiving country plus price fluctuations in the majority of the Souths underdeveloped countries, which lack such mechanisms as these to cushion their effects, are other determining economic factors. By producing migrants and receiving remittances, families mitigate the defects and shortfalls in all of these markets in the countries in which they happened to be born. By sending members abroad, the households guarantee themselves credit, insurance, subsidies and other mechanisms to mitigate risks, increase investment and improve their living standard. THE SHOWCASE EFFECT: COMPARISON WITH NEIGHBORS Sometimes it is not so important to increase income as to diversify its sources, at which point this approach differs radically from neoclassical theory. The theoreticians of the new migration economics sustain that households send some of their members abroad not only to improve their income in absolute terms, but also to improve it relative to neighboring households and reduce their privations in relation to a given reference group. Family dissatisfaction is triggered by comparison to neighbors. This thesis could explain the pull of emigration and its showcase effect: the more remittances emigrants from a community send home to improve their relatives living conditions, the greater the number of dissatisfied households that want to place at least one family member abroad. The probability of migrating increases with

Not having harvest insurance means that farmers do not risk investment in introducing better technologies. For example, they do not experiment with new varieties of seeds.

rising income in other households or perceived inequality. This means that there will be a greater probability of migrating in poorer households and less equitable communities. Massey et al. (1993) argue that the new migration economics has a very different set of suppositions for examination from those of neoclassical theory. For example, the most suitable units of analysis for research on migration from this approach are not autonomous individuals, but rather families, households and other cultural units of production and consumption. Wage differences between countries are not a necessary condition for international migration, as households can have strong incentives to diversify risks even in their absence. EMIGRATING TO LATER INVEST IN THE FAMILY AND COMMUNITY This approach also includes a novel discovery: international migration and employment and local production are not mutually exclusive. In fact, there are strong incentives for families to invest simultaneously in migration and local activities. The prosperity and profitability of local activities can even become a stimulus for migrating, a strategy to provide local investment capital and mitigate the risks to which they are exposed. This means that economically developing the regions of origin may not necessarily reduce the migratory wave once it has been unleashed and is being fed by the desire to keep up with the Joneses. According to this approach, eliminating wage differences may not necessarily stop emigration. Incentives to emigrate may persist when markets other than wage markets are imperfect, unbalanced or simply do not exist in the countries of origin, or when there is a desire to attain the status of a certain reference group. It must be recognized, however, that most often these other factors encouraging migration are at least indirectly related to income/expenditure, as in the case of wanting to improve ones status. In light of this theory, governments looking to put the brakes on migration face an enormous task. They must control the volume of migrants through policies that influence not only the labor and wage markets, but also the insurance, capital, unemployment compensation and other markets, and must moderate inequality as well. Government policies and economic changes that redistribute income will alter the relative poverty of certain households and thus their incentives for migrating. Such policies influence migration independent of their effects on average income. For example, an increase in income in the areas from which emigrants are leaving could encourage migration if relatively poor households do not benefit from it. By the same logic, such an increase could put the brakes on migration if it excludes relatively well-off families. REMITTANCES EXPLAIN MORE AND MORE IN NICARAGUACS ECONOMY Remittances and their repercussions provide the strongest empirical support for this theory. Remittances explain many new features of the Nicaraguan economy and their

impact is receiving growing attention. While Nicaraguas Central Bank estimates that remittances amount to $345 million a year, other calculations have produced higher estimates. A study by Federico Torres for the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA) (CEPAL, 2000 b) concluded that remittances ranged between $400 and $800 million in 1999, which amounts to an average monthly income of $70 per Nicaraguan household. Other studies talk of each home receiving an average of $150. Remittances could represent at least 14.4% of Nicaraguas gross domestic product. According to sociologist Eduardo Baumeister (2004), households with at least one member residing abroad explain the 48% of poor homes that have risen above the poverty line between the last two national living standards surveys. Even allowing for other associated variables, it is striking that the 12% of households with migrants can account for the reduction of the countrys poverty level by nearly half (Ibid.). According to a FLACSO study, the average amount sent back from Costa Rica as monthly remittances is $63.30, which is equivalent to 33.4% of Nicaraguas average monthly wage and exceeds its total minimum wage by about $3 (Castro, 2002, p.224). A study done by Ricardo Castelln for the FAO tried to measure the impact of remittances on the local economies of six municipalities in Nicaraguas dry zone: Villanueva, San Francisco, La Conquista, Tipitapa, Posoltega and Santa Teresa. Remittances account for 60% of monthly family income in these municipalities, but even at that, the poverty levels are so high that most of those receiving remittances said they used them only to cover basic food costs. THE DIFFICULTY OF CROSS-TABULATING VARIABLES IN A COUNTRY LIKE NICARAGUA Cross-tabulating the variable of households with or without members abroad with other variables corresponding to certain types of investment could help reveal a correspondence between migration and the diversification of income sources, risk reduction and even increased status within a reference group. By doing such a cross-tabulation of the last living standards survey, conducted by the Improvement of Living Standards Measurement Surveys project (MECOVI) in 2001 (INEC, 2001 b), we discovered that urban households with members abroad had a clear percentile advantage over those without in a number of different categories. This included an advantage of almost 11% in ownership of concrete or cement block housing, 8% in housing in good repair, 17% in housing with more than two rooms, 15% in housing with tiled floors, 5% in housing with floors in good repair, 7% in possession of a toilet, 10.5% in use of gas for cooking and 15% in availability of a telephone. The gaps with respect to those same variables are considerably smaller in rural areas. This could be because the remittances received in the countryside are more meager and

contribute to subsistence more than investment, but focusing on other investment areas belies that supposition somewhat. For example, rural households with emigrants had an 11% advantage over those without in harvesting agricultural products in their backyard. It is also possible to draw conclusions about the ecological impact of remittances, given that 5% fewer rural households with members living abroad cut down trees for the sale of firewood or its consumption at home than those without members abroad. But it cannot be inferred from these figures with any real certainty that there is a correlation between migrants and investments or risk reduction, since we have no before to compare with the current situation. We will have to wait for the next survey to make comparisons on a broad enough basis, using MECOVI 2001 as a baseline survey (INEC, 2001 b). There is a need for much more research conducted at different moments and considering many more variables. The problem lies in isolating the key variables in each theory from those that are irrelevant. For example, the number of Nicaraguan emigrants strongly increased in 1998. The new migration economics theory would say that it was a reaction to reduce the risks linked to Hurricane Mitch, which might appear to be a very clear correlation. But it is very hard to isolate the Mitch variable from others that were also present during that year: increased unemployment, despair, etc. Isolating variables in a country like Nicaragua, whose path is littered with all kinds of deprivations that encourage human mobility, is very difficult. In Nicaragua, we have a monopoly on the sweepstakes tickets when it comes to migration. THE SEGMENTED LABOR MARKET THEORY: THEY RESPOND TO DEMAND IN THE NORTH Both the neoclassical theory and the new migration economics focus on micro-level decisions. Another theory, that of segmented or dual labor markets, distances itself from decisions taken by individuals and small groups to focus on the demand for labor from industrialized societies. Theoreticians from this tendency argue that migration is caused by the permanent demand for migrant labor inherent in the economic structure of developed nations. Here, the causes are not factors pushing people away from their countries of originlow salaries, high unemploymentbut rather those pulling migrants to the countries of destination, such as a chronic and inevitable need for foreign workers for certain tasks. This demand for immigrant labor is caused by four problems characteristic of advanced industrialized societies. The first is structural inflation: wages are linked to social prestige, which triggers a chain reaction when wages are increased among the lowest social strata, upping the cost of attracting workers to low-paid jobs. As it becomes increasingly difficult to do so, the employers seek cheaper and simpler solutions, such as contracting migrants who will accept lower wages. There are also motivational problems: the main aspiration of the migrant worker stratum is most likely to be the least qualified jobs, because unlike the natives they only

care about the wage as income and not as an indicator of status or social prestige. They measure their prestige not in the host country, but in their community of origin, where the remittances they send back and what is achieved with them have more than enough impact and generate status. The third problem is economic dualism: In capital-intensive workplaces, the employers tend to need workers with higher skills, so they invest in their training and pay the whole range of benefits because they are interested in keeping them. In labor-intensive workplaces, such as the agricultural sector and sweatshops that have not migrated to the very countries of origin of so many migrants, the employers seek the least possible payout for social and unemployment benefits, not to mention wages, and hence seek migrants. Finally, there is a problem related to demography and labor supply: the supply of workers willing to accept low wages, unpleasant conditions, extreme instability and limited opportunities for promotion previously came from among women and adolescents. But both groups now have alternative options: women are accessing better-paid jobs and are interested in status, while young people are absorbed by the academic system and seek swift upward social mobility. This virtually limits the supply for this employment segment to migrants. Although compatible with the previous models, the segmented labor market approach has very different implications. In this theory, international labor migration is demand-based and activated by the employers in developed societies. The low wages in the country of destination may fall even more with an increase in the migratory wave, given that social and institutional mechanisms that prevent increases in low salaries do not protect them from any decrease. This theory leaves very little room for governments to influence migration through policies that produce small changes in wages and employment rates. Migrants satisfy a structurally constructed demand for labor in modern and post-industrial economies, and influencing that demand would require monumental changes in the whole economic organization. !"#$% IN COSTA RICA: AT THE BOTTOM OF THE LABOR PYRAMID Although no researcher has sustained that Nicaraguans migrate to Costa Rica attracted by a labor demand from certain Costa Rican industries or productive sectors, several researches have held that, even if not formally recruited, Nicaraguans are satisfying the needs of clearly identifiable economic areas. Carlos Castro Valverde (2002) found that the Costa Rican free trade assembly plants (known as maquilas) and the construction and agriculture sectors absorb a great deal of Nicaraguan labor. Costa Ricans are less inclined to work in these sectors because other opportunities are open to them.

According to Castro (2002), 12.1% of the Nicaraguans registered in the households survey in that country are working in construction, double the 6% of Costa Ricans working in that sector; and almost a third of the Nicaraguans are working in the agricultural sector (29.6%), which is substantially higher than the 19.9% of national workers (Ibid., p.200). Meanwhile, Nicaraguan women have a huge presence62.2%in the service sector, twice the proportion of Costa Rican women working in that area (31.4%). (Ibid., pp.202-203) In this context of segmented labor markets, Costa Rican employers view Nicaraguans as candidates for lower wages, making them a very attractive labor source. Castro (2002) estimates that the average income of Nicaraguan immigrants is 78,457 colons ($253), which is 30% lower than the average income of the Costa Rican population. The immigrants average income is 11.5% less in construction and 17.9% less in industry. Nicaraguans are paid less than half the income of Costa Ricans in the service sector, largely due to a division of labor in which the former work in unskilled services such as domestic labor, while the latter are involved in skilled jobs such as public sector services and private financial and computing activities. (Ibid., pp.214-215) All of this fits in with the theory of segmented markets: lower wages, the tendency to predominate in certain occupations, migrants in jobs that nationals tend to look down on, and the positioning of migrants at the bottom of the labor pyramid. The only fundamental exception is that the theory sustains that migrant worker flows are due more to formal recruitment mechanisms than to individual decisions. Is this what really happens? Perhaps there are forms of informal labor recruitment. This issue needs to be researched in greater depth and more evidence collected. THE WORLD SYSTEMS THEORY: THEY MOVE FROM THE PERIPHERY TO THE CENTER According to the world systems approach, international migration has little to do with different wage levels or employment rates between countries and is fundamentally the result of the structure of the global economy and the creation of markets. The penetration of capitalist economic relations into peripheral societies creates a population inclined to migrate towards the capitalist center. Moved by the desire for profit, the owners and managers of big capitalist firms go into poor countries on the systems periphery in search of land, raw materials and labor and consumer markets. In the past, this penetration was guaranteed by colonial power, but it is currently facilitated by neocolonial governments and the transnational firms that perpetuate the local elites power. This penetration alters the socioeconomic and cultural conditions in such a way that the movement of labor in the inverse direction to big capitalist investments is an unavoidable result. People are now subjected to the global market economy just as land and raw materials were in the past. In the words of Catalonian sociologist Manuel Castells, if there

is a global economy, there should also be a global labor market and global labor (1999, p.260). When writing his book, The Information Era, Castells, using figures from the eighties and early nineties, argued that this proposal was not being fulfilled in its literal sense, given the labor markets limited mobility. In 1993, only some 80 million workers1.5% of global laborwere working outside their country of origin. Even with the free movement of citizens within European Union member countries, only 2% of Europeans were working in another EU member country. Castells (1999) relativized the existence of a global and unified labor market by observing that institutions, borders, culture, politics and xenophobia continued to confine the vast majority of workers to their nation of origin and that mass population displacements caused by wars and hunger are more important. But he stressed an historical trend towards increasing labor interdependence on a world scale through three mechanisms: global employment in transnational corporations and their associated cross-border networks; the impact of international trade on employment and working conditions both North and South; and the effects of global competition and the new flexible method of managing each countrys labor force (Ibid., p.262).

MIGRATION IN NICARAGUACS RURAL ZONES Castells (1999) did not sufficiently develop how these mechanisms are gradually but consistently displacing labor, thus helping weave a globalized labor market. The invasion of trans-national companies stimulates migratory movement in various ways. To be more competitive, landowners in poor countries acquire more land, mechanize agricultural work, introduce high-yield seed varieties and apply industrially produced inputs. All of these transnational-inspired novelties make a large part of rural labor redundant and also leave small producers at a disadvantage by reducing the prices of agricultural production. Those displaced seek employment in other areas of the country as well as abroad. This displacement could partly explain why 20% more males than females emigrate from rural areas of Nicaragua while the percentages of males and females emigrating from urban areas are much more similar (INEC, 2001 b). A greater number of people still emigrate abroad from the cities, because those leaving the countryside tend to move first to a city inside the country, but this pattern is changing. Between 1986 and 1990, 85% of those who emigrated left from the cities, but this dropped to 75% between 1991 and 1993 and to 71% between 1994 and 1997. According to the 2001 National Health and Education Survey (ENDESA), only 66% of those

Calculations based on information from INEC.


emigrating between 1998 and 2001 were city dwellers (INEC, 2001 a). It should also be borne in mind that the 34% emigrating abroad directly from rural areas is only part of a considerably greater volume of people leaving the the countryside for that same period, with the others still migrating internally to the cities first. This growing outflow of people from our countryside is considerably reducing the rural populations overall weight and is a symptom of well-known changes caused by various factors, of which rural unemployment, most recently aggravated by the coffee crisis, is undoubtedly the most drastic. The penetration of transnational companies and their methods into rural areas undermines the peasant economys structures, which are based on reciprocity and established roles, replacing them with a labor market rooted in more individualistic conceptions and private profit, cultural features that trigger the uprooting of peasant populations. The increasing monetization of the economy tends to bring about the disappearance of the traditional institutions based on family networks and community solidarity that have provided the social infrastructure for many other exchanges. Wages as the exclusive mediator of all labor purchases erodes such rural institutions as the practice of bartering for services with no monetary exchange involved. Although this deterioration of the peasant economys structures is perhaps not quite so attributable to the transna-tionals in Nicaraguas case, it is already palpable. FREE TRADE ZONES UPROOT AND ENCOURAGE MIGRATION The penetration of transnationals has other better-known effects in Nicaragua. Maquilas, for example, demand a predominantly female work force that leaves men out in the cold. The Presitex free-trade garment assembly plant located in Sbaco, on the road to Matagalpa, provides 2,000 jobs, only 13% of which are filled by men; a similar percentage to that found on the national level among other maquila companies (Bilbao, 2003, p.12). Of the female employees in Sbaco, 66% are between the ages of 18 and 30 (Bilbao, 2003), which is also the critical age for migrating: 48% of Nicaraguan emigrants are between these ages when they set off (INEC, 2001 b).** Given that this factory was only established in February 2000, it is too soon to calculate whether it will influence male emigration from the zone, but a tendency is predictable. Some of the maquilas and other foreign companies also produce goods that compete with those manufactured by local industry while familiarizing their workers with certain goods not within their financial reach. In short, these companies displace labor while at the same time whetting the national appetite for a new range of consumer goods. The result is an uprooted population group prone to migrate because it cannot attain the living

Calculations based on information from INEC. Calculation based on information from INEC.

standard to which it aspires and ideological links have been forged with the places from which the capital originated. Two other elements combine with this urge. The first is the demand for migrant labor in global cities, Los Angeles and Miami being the cities of choice for Central Americas emigrants. The second is the facilities, or infrastructure linkages, that enable one to move. The highways designed to facilitate the transport of merchandise from North to South also reduce the costs and speed up the transport of people from South to North. After all, the global village is based on communication routes. THE IRRESISTIBLE LURE OF THE AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE Cable television companies have been increasing their coverage in Nicaragua, such that even a town as far from Managua as Matiguswhich is actually more culturally than geographically removedhas some 500 houses connected to cable by a local supplier. Those with cable TV in that town will become increasingly more familiar with US humor, attire, domestic appliances, vocabulary, diet and, generally speaking, the whole American way of life than they are with that of their compatriots in Rivas or Managua. Media publicity instills a taste for the consumption of many goods that Nicaragua imports but does not produce. Young people look for brand-name pants, T-shirts and caps, which may be made in Bangladesh or even in Managuas Las Mercedes free trade zone, but carry the US label. The movies shown in Nicaragua display the American way of life in brilliant and even lurid colors, packaging in celluloid a way of life that feeds these ideological links. The Miami boys, youngsters brought up in the States who came back after the revolution was safely dispatched, are the heralds of a new way of life that is sweeping many others away. They litter their conversations with English words, expressions, phrases and even distortions. The urban centers are more exposed to this kind of influence, so it is not surprising that the 2001 ENDESA survey revealed that 90.3% of Nicaraguans who had emigrated to the United States were from the urban sector, compared to only 60% of those who went to Costa Rica (INEC, 2001 a). In summary, the world systems theory sustains that migration provides continuity to the political and economic organization of an expanding global market. In this theory, international migration is the natural consequence of the formation of the capitalist market: the global economys penetration into the peripheral regions is the catalyst for human mobility. The international flow of merchandise and capital is followed by an international flow of labor that moves in the opposite direction. Capitalist investment fosters changes that create an uprooted and mobile population with cultural and material links to the countries from which the capital originates.
Information supplied by the director and owner of Cablevision of Matigus in February 2003.

WHY GO TO THE STATES? AND WHY TO COSTA RICA? International migration is very common between industrialized countries and their former colonies due to the cultural, linguistic, commercial and communications links woven during the colonial period, completely free of competition. In his book Harvest of Empire. A history of Latinos in America, Puerto Rican-US journalist Juan Gonzlez (2001) sustains that the links between the countries that generate migrants and those that receive them have been forged by a long history of trade, political and military relations. And there is plenty of evidence for this thesis: Cuba and Spain, Algeria and France, Morocco and Spain, Latin America and the United States and Turkey and Germany, to name but a few. Nicaraguan migrants have mainly ended up in Costa Rica and the United States. The latter was largely a political destination during the eighties, but the reasons for emigrating are now economic and Costa Rica is the main target. Nicaragua has a long history of stormy and difficult relations with both countries. It has been connected to the United States through the latters multiple invasions; the US Armys creation of the National Guard; the US governments sup-port for local Nicaraguan elites; the Somoza dictatorship and the counterrevolutionary army of the eighties and the fact that 27% of Nicaraguan imports come from the United States and 32% of its exports go there (Banco Central de Nicaragua, 2001, pp.109-111).*** Political, military and economic relations between Nicaragua and Costa Rica have also been marked by notable trends and events. Costa Rica has historically been a destination for Nicaraguan labor, at least since the installation of the banana companies in that country; Nicaragua ceded the territories of Guanacaste and Nicoya to Costa Rica, provisionally in 1825 and definitively in 1857; armed Nicaraguan encampments were set up on Costa Rican soil during the struggle against Somoza in the seventies and again in the struggle against the Sandinista government in the eighties; and the Costa Rican Pal supermarket and Musmani bakery chains have become ubiquitous in Nicaragua during the past few years. According to the world systems approach, governments can only influence the volume of migration by controlling corporate investments and the flow of goods and capital, since migration depends on globalization and the market economy. Such policies, however, will probably never be implemented. The trade disputes they would trigger, the risk of a world recession and the political resources the transnationals could mobilize to neutralize them make any such policies unthinkable.

Cuba became independent of the mother land in 1898, 77 years after Central America did. There were old commercial ties, German archeologists working in Turkey, and a German-Turkish alliance during the First World War in order to obtain a foothold in Africa. This theory also says that when military interventions fail or the support of certain governments stops it produces a flood of refugees in the direction of the supporting country. Calculations based on information from Central Bank of Nicaragua.

THE PERPETUATION THEORY: THEY GO AND KEEP ON GOING The reasons the migratory movement is perpetuated in time and space can be very different from those that caused its initial explosion. And although the search for improved income, the desire to reduce risks and market penetration may continue to push emigrants broad, new conditions emerge during the course of the migratory movement that become independent causes. Such is the case with the expansion of migrant networks and of institutions that support the development of transnational mobility. Migrant networks consist of links connecting migrants, their relatives and even nonmigrants in the communities of origin and destination. They are a very efficient incentive for migration because they reduce the costs and risks of the migratory movement and increase its net benefits. These networks generate a social capital that helps people access jobs abroad. Once the number of migrants reaches a critical level, the networks expand, reducing the costs and risks and multiplying the number of migrants even more, giving rise to an ascending spiral of more networks and more migrants. Although the concentration of Nicaraguans in certain Costa Rican neighborhoods has been analyzed more as a form of residential segregation, they are the best material expression of these migration networks and greatly increase the probability of future migrations (Funkhouser et al., 2003, p.74). Nicaraguans make up 49.1% of the residents in the La Carpio housing settlement in southeast San Jos (Campos, 2004). It is a Nicaraguan bastion. Its 6,808 Nicaraguan inhabitants are more than a quarter of the size of the city of Granada at the beginning of the seventies (Instituto Nicaragense de de Fomento Municipal [INIFOM] & Fondo de Poblacin de las Naciones Unidas [FNUAP], 2001, p.4). Concentrations of this kind make Nicaraguans more visible than their dissemination across wide areas. With 12% of Nicaraguas households already having migrants, the probabilities of the migratory movement continuing and increasing are very high. Looking at how many Nicaraguans have a close relative abroad would give us a better idea of the impact and possible contagion of the migratory trend. Unfortunately, the national surveys conducted in Nicaragua have not explored whether, for example, migrants left behind daughters and sons whom they later might send for. We do, however, know that 51% of emigrants are children of the head of household and could eventually encourage and facilitate the journey of their siblings or parents. CHILDREN GET THEIR PARENTS AND OTHER RELATIVES INTO THE US Migrant networks are strengthened when some of their members get their residency in the country of destination legally recognized. The legal status that many Nicaraguans were able to acquire as refugees or political asylum seekers in the United States during the

eighties makes a multiplier effect more probable. More recently, the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), approved by the US Congress in November 1997, granted legal residence to 55,000 Nicaraguans who had entered the United States before December 1, 1995. Although this is a ridiculous figure relative to the number eligible to apply -some 160,000- (Confidencial, 1999), it unquestionably had an impact and many Nicaraguans legalized their status and then brought their closest relatives over. In 1999, following Hurricane Mitchs devastating passage through Nicaragua, Costa Rica, perhaps fearing that this disaster would exponentially increase the number of immigrants, offered an amnesty that allowed the 160,000 Nicaraguans who could demonstrate that they had lived there since before 1998 to legalize their residence (Funkhouser et al., 2003, p.73). According to MECOVI 2001 (INEC, 2001 b), 17.4% of the Nicaraguans who migrated between 1998 and 2001 were grandchildren of heads of households, compared to just 3.7% of those who migrated during the 1994-1997 period. Are they in fact the children of migrants who have already set themselves up in the new country, with or without legal status, and now have a relatively stable situation? Immigration policies that promote migrants reunification with their relatives also reinforce the network-building process. The fact that the vast majority of Nicaraguans have emigrated in the past six years enables us to predict that the true dimension of the networks multiplier effect will not be seen for a few years yet. It is almost a law of migration that the more years an emigrant has been established, the more likely his or her relatives are to follow the example. There is also room for the hypothesis that this particular boom is partly the effect of previous migratory waves. After a certain point, migration becomes self-perpetuating. Each migration creates a social structure that makes it sustainable; each migrant wave reduces the costs for the next; each new migrant expands the network and reduces the risks for those linked to him or her; and each increase in the migrant mass makes leaving more attractive to those still living in the country of origin. Migrants even offer their relatives and friends loans to migrate. As the displacement acquires fewer risks, migration offers a sure source of income and real payment possibilities. Thus a decade after the first migratory wave, communities that experienced a small explosion of migrants are emptied of members within a certain age range: aunts send for nephews and nieces, sisters send for their brothers, friends bring over friends. Kinship and friendship are placed at the service of migration. Although compatible with the approaches based on individual decisions or household strategies, this theory, too, has different implications. Because the extension of migratory networks increasingly lowers the costs and risks, the migrations stop only when all of those who want to migrate have done so. The migratory flow does not significantly
Calculations based on information from INEC.

depend on employment rates or wage differences, as the trend is more influenced by the decreased costs and risks than low wages and employment rates in the country of origin. Migration thus becomes independent of the factors that originally caused it by institutionalizing itself through migrant networks. NETWORKS, NEW INSTITUTIONS AND THE INABILITY TO CONTROL THE TREND The theory of the perpetuation of migrations is the one most skeptical of the capacity of the state apparatus to control them. Governments cannot expect their policies to control migrant flows easily once their ascending spiral has been activated because the network formation processes are completely outside their sphere of influence. Migrations open spaces for other multiplying mechanisms, with institutions that support mobility playing a role in their perpetuation. Such institutions include organizations that protect undocumented migrants, shelters for migrants in transit, lawyers who profit by arranging legal status, coyotes (the guides who help illegal immigrants cross borders), contractors of illegal workers, humanitarian institutions providing social services and legal advice, arranged marriages between migrants and citizens of the country of destination, clandestine transportation and passport and visa handlers. These institutions represent another component of the social capital on which migrants rely, increasing the flow, multiplying the numbers and reducing the costs and risks. Both humanitarian institutions and illegal trafficking have multiplied throughout the world. In Nicaragua, the migration industry is a faithful reflection of the countrys economy as a whole, with the informal sector for outstripping formal institutions. Although they could create a social infrastructure that encourages migration, humanitarian institutions are in their infancy in our region. There are only five shelters in the whole of Central America, which are pastoral houses for people on the move. Caritas runs the only shelter in Nicaragua. Located in San Carlos, it can house 20 people, which is very limited considering that an estimated 200 Nicaraguans head for Costa Rica every day (lvarez & Hernndez, 2002). Among the formal bodies, local and sometimes national radio stations have established themselves as one of the elements that most enliven the networks linking migrants and their relatives. Offering savings on telephone calls, quick announcements and permanent communication, they have become a way to reduce communication costs and encourage cultural links. THE COYOTES: A POWERFUL INSTITUTION The informal migration sector is the most developed. When governments apply restrictive measures, they encourage people to resort to the migration black market mechanism.

The number of coyotes has multiplied in the past five years and they have diversified their services, now providing credit and exercising control over the indebted migrants through their relatives. In the city of Chinandega one coyote kidnapped the wife of an indebted migrant as a way to force him to pay. The prices set by the coyotes have remained stable because the greater the demand for the service, the more suppliers there are. This also makes the coyote structure a source of employment. They charge $2,000 just to cross the border into the Untied States, so it can run over $5,000 to go all the way from Nicaragua. The price for reaching Costa Rica from Nicaragua is considerably cheaper: $50 to cross the border and $250 if the emigrant wants to be accompanied to a local village or town. But there are dangers; coyotes have even raped some women. Humanitarian institutions are disseminating information on how to apply for visas, passports, etc., to help emigrants avoid the vexations to which they are traditionally exposed. A flier titled Know the risks of crossing the southern border has been widely disseminated by the Commission for the Defense of Human Rights in Central America CODEHUCA), which is linked to the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (CENIDH) in Nicaragua and to Caritas. But there is need for far more resources to work on this issue and for much more reflection to provide an approach that has a truly positive impact. In their absence, the coyotes will continue to be the most powerful institution supporting transnational mobility. THE THEORY OF CUMULATIVE CAUSATION: THE MORE MIGRANTS, THE MORE MIGRATION Migration produces many other changes that encourage its growth, a process termed cumulative causation by Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal as far back as 1957. It is based on the idea that each act of migration modifies the social context in such a way as to make subsequent migrations more probable. Social scientists have studied six socioeconomic factors affected by migration that subsequently stimulate new migrations: income distribution, land distribution, agricultural organization, the culture of migration, regional distribution of human capital and the social significance of certain jobs in the countries of destination. Income distribution in a given community is modified by the remittances received. The fact that certain families start to prosper changes the way other members of the community perceive their own economic situation. According to this migration theory, income appraisal is based on a reference group. Many have emigrated out of a desire for their own people to benefit from the bonanza they witnessed in households receiving remittances. All that glitters may not be gold, but even tinsel attracts people. The more emigrants a community has, the more unequal the income distribution, which makes those not receiving remittances feel they are being left behind. Migrations thus induce more migrations.

Land distribution and the organization of agricultural production also stimulate migration. Emigrants from an agricultural background look to acquire land back home, either for reasons of prestige or to invest in it on their return; at least those are the plans. Sometimes they act on those plans and the new availability of capital changes the cultivation patterns toward more capital-intensive, labor-displacing methods: tractors, watering systems, imported seeds, agrochemicals. In other cases, when emigrants realize that agricultural investments are not as profitable as their labor abroad, they leave their acquisitions idle, thus reducing employment opportunities in the rural area. In both cases, unemployment is the inevitable result. And the unemployment generated by the new distribution of agricultural property and new cultivation patterns encourages new migrations. Meanwhile, migrations create a migration culture. It is not just that experiencing other habits and customs makes one more likely to migrate. A culture of migration is also generated in the community by the contagious example of others and the stories told by emigrants and their relatives about opportunities, customs and living standards in the countries of destination. This cultural virus produces a migratory epidemic. Migrating takes its place as a community value and even as a right of passage among young people. Those who do not dare to migrate are seen as chicken or unenterprising. THE EXODUS OF NICARAGUAN HUMAN CAPITAL Migration also produces a movement of the more qualified, motivated, educated and productive personnel from the countries of origin to the countries of destination. This dynamic improves the economic and development conditions of the countries of destination, making them more attractive, while reducing the development possibilities in the countries of origin, making them increasingly less pleasant to live in and hence encouraging even more migration. In Nicaraguas case, the theory that the countries of destination dont always know how to reap the benefits of the mobility of our human capital is supported by some figures and questioned by others. It is a well-known fact that Nicaraguan emigrants have a much higher level of schooling than their compatriots who stayed behind: 65% of emigrants from urban areas aged 25 or over went to secondary school compared to only 40% of non-emigrants of the same age range. In rural areas, the difference is even greater, 43% and 10%, respectively (Rocha, 2003). In most cases, Nicaraguan professionals who reach the United States are only hired for jobs well below their professional qualifications. Costa Rica is no better at taking great advantage of this trend; many Nicaraguan doctors and lawyers work as taxi drivers there. The 2001 living standards survey conducted by Nicaraguas National Institute of Statistics and Censuses contains figures on almost 900 emigrants, provided by relatives

responding to the census. Of the 52 who are university graduates, only 25% are working abroad in jobs that correspond to their professional qualifications. Another 13.5% work as waiters, cooks, nannies and above all salespeople; 19% work as carpenters, cabinetmakers, painters, mechanics, electricians and particularly foremen; and 21% as menial workers, domestics, doormen, launderers, agricultural laborers, security guards and unskilled construction workers. Of the Nicaraguan emigrants covered by this sample who had finished high school or teacher training, 37.5% had no choice but to join the last category, which means that 36% of all Nicaraguan emigrants doing that set of unskilled jobs hold either a high school diploma or university degree. Adding the previous category and including drivers and factory workers, the number of emigrants in the sample working in such semi-skilled or unskilled tasks who had finished high school climbs to 42% and of those who had finished university rises to 67% (INEC, 2001 b). This is an underutilized exodus of human capital that Nicaragua should not allow, even in a context of brutal unemployment. On the other hand, female Nicaraguan teachers from schools in Rivas and other departments often work as nannies and domestics in Costa Rica. As a result, Costa Rican children will be better equipped to face the world in general and the academic world in particular having been accompanied by people with formal education. It is an unquestionable benefit for Costa Rica, with repercussions for the development of Nicaragua that cannot be measured either immediately or using conventional indicators. AN EXPANSIVE AND UNSTOPPABLE TREND Finally, the theory of cumulative causation states that the arrival of immigrants changes the predominant perception of certain occupations in a given country. If migrants mainly settle in certain jobs, the native population ends up considering those jobs as typical migrant occupations, thus redefining their social label. The stigma this attaches to such jobs makes them even less attractive to local inhabitants, who see them as culturally inappropriate, a situation that leads to their definitive concession to the immigrants. Once the stigma has spread, not even high unemployment rates can remove it and the governments of the countries of destination may see themselves obliged to retain or even recruit more immigrants to carry out such work. In this respect, an enormous number of Bostons janitors are Latinos; it is difficult to find a floor cleaner in San Francisco who does not come from either Central America or Ethiopia; there is an abundance of Honduran and Salvadoran waiters in Washington; and the number of Nicaraguan domestics in Miami is legion. In Costa Rica, Nicaraguan employees are gaining increasing weight in sectors such as domestic work, agriculture and
Calculations based on information from INEC.

construction. The documentary Desde el barro al sur (lvarez & Hernndez, 2002) shows Costa Rican citizens explaining how Nicaraguan migrants work in jobs that the natives look own on and how these jobs come to be considered as typical Nica jobs. The cumulative causation theory fits in perfectly with the network formation theory. The economic, social and cultural changes caused by migration in the countries of both origin and destination strengthen the migratory movement in such a way as to multiply it and make it more resistant to government controls. With over 10% of Nicaraguans living abroad and 12% of Nicaraguan households having some member living outside the country, it should come as no surprise that we have already crossed the line at which migrations expansive tendency, its cumulative causation, starts to show its effects. A very visible sign is revealed by the survey done in Nicaragua in June 2003 by the M&R firm, with 65% of those polled saying that they would be willing to emigrate to another country if the opportunity presented itself. (Queremos huir) NO ONE THEORY HOLDS ALL THE ANSWERS The neoclassical economic theory explains migrations based on the costs of migrating and the differences in the employment and wage conditions between the countries of departure and destination. Its micro variant presents migration as the result of an individual strategy to maximize income. The theory of the new migration economics considers the conditions in a variety of markets rather than just the labor market, explaining migration as a family strategy to minimize the risks to overall income and to survive capital contractions that affect family production activities. On another level of analysis, both the segmented or dual labor market theory and the world systems theory ignore micro-level decision-making and focus on those forces acting upon greater levels of aggregation. The former links immigration to the requirements of modern industrial economies, while the latter sees migration as one of the natural consequences of globalization and a market penetration that respects no borders. Finally, the theory of the perpetuation of migrations proposes that migrations produce changes that contribute to their own multiplication, independent of their original causes. As can be seen, these theories are not mutually exclusive; they simply focus their attention and analysis on different levels (individual, family, national and international). In the real world, individuals act to maximize their income and families adopt strategies to minimize risks, while at the same time structural forces are shaping the context in which all of this is taking place. Migrations cannot be fully explained by citing structuralism, which ignores the role individuals play, or the atomized approaches that ignore how individual decisions are conditioned by socioeconomic, political and cultural structures.

STUCK WITH ALL THE MIGRATORY HIGH CARDS We dont know which direction the migrations will take. Human mobility not only unleashes forces that ensure its own multiplication, it also awakens and ferments racial aversion. Will the xenophobic convulsions that are springing up everywhere have an adverse effect on migration? What impact will the reemergence of racist movements in the United States, or the ethnic trade unions in Miamiparticularly the Irish onesor the myth of Costa Ricas peaceful, white middle class of European origin contrasted with that of the barefoot, brown Nicaraguan have over time? The question for Nicaragua right now is how to stop this trend when we hold all the cards that win the migratory sweepstakes. Or perhaps the first question is whether we even should try to stop it.


n August 6, 1890, a German immigrant named William Kemmler was the first person to be executed in the electric chair in the United States, at New Yorks Auburn prison. A Tunisian immigrant living in France was the last to be executed by the guillotine, in 1977. Immigrants have never been the cup of tea of societies that, with little insight and usually even less justice, often call themselves welcoming. US historian Arthur Meier Schlesinger argued that in his country the men with the longest colonial lineage viewed recent arrivals with a kind of alarm activated by each new generation. Even Caucasian immigrants, blue-eyed blonds from the most western parts of Europe, have triggered fear and disparagement. Benjamin Franklin declared that the German immigrants pouring into Pennsylvania were generally the most stupid of their own nation. Not being used to liberty, they know not how to make modest use of it. (Schlesinger, 1921, p.74) According to Schlesinger (1921), the most hackneyed objections to immigration, based on stereotypes of unwillingness to assimilate, of pauperism and criminality, date back to those early years. In later years, even more congested with immigrants, new arguments developed out of the fear of economic competition. THE SENSENBRENNER BILL: WALLS, FINES, CONTROL, PERSECUTION... When terror and rejection of immigrants spring up with renewed determination there is a multiplication of policies, mechanisms, speeches and resources for controlling, deporting and criminalizing. Defining an enemy forms part of and solidifies the demagogic vote-getting strategy of rightwing parties. George W. Bush has defined enemies both distant and close at handMuslims and immigrants, respectively. The tension is evident: politicians want to throw them out, businessmen need to hire them. The contradiction is just as apparent, but dissolves into nothingness when it is shown that the cost of labor is inversely proportional to the number and effectiveness of restrictive immigration measures; or, put another way, more irregularity equals more profits. The restrictive measures redistribute the costs of the immigrants presence, with taxpayers financing the construction of the irregularity and the businesses capitalizing on it. To grease this lucrative system, which produces both votes and dollars, steps have been taken in the past six months or so that express just how far the temperature of

immigrant-focused policies has risen. On December 16, 2005, the US House of Representatives passed HR 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (Sensenbrenner & King, 2005), better known as the Sensenbrenner bill, for its promoter, Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). Among other things, this bill proposes constructing a 1,120-kilometer wall at points along the US border with Mexico where the greatest number of undocumented immigrants cross; granting the federal government custody of illegal aliens detained by local authorities to stop a lack of resources from leading to them being released without due process; obliging employees to verify the legal status of its workers through electronic means; sending reports to Congress proving that these verifications are being made; eliminating federal, state and local government concessions to apply a sanctuary policy (cities such as Chicago and New York have had such policies, which ignore restrictive dispositions); and providing satellite communication among immigration officials. The law requires all border patrol uniforms to be made in the United States to avoid counterfeits; requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to report to Congress on the number of OTMs (Other than Mexicans) and of immigrants from countries that promote terror apprehended and deported; obliges all undocumented immigrants to pay US$3,000 before their deporta-tion if they agree to leave voluntarily, but dont adhere to the terms of the agreement; establishes a 60-day grace period for voluntary departure; requires a study on a possible border wall with Canada; sets a 10-year minimum sentence for carrying false documents; requires the criminal record of any foreigners requesting legal status to ensure that they arent on the terrorist list; and establishes a sentence of no less than three years imprisonment for anyone who takes in undocumented immigrants. The law also adds the crimes of trading and trafficking in immigrants to the status of money laundering; increases the penalty for employing undocumented foreigners to US$7,500 for the first offense, US$15 for the second and US$40,000 for any subsequent ones; and prohibits the provision of aid to an undocumented immigrant, applying the same jail sentence to those who consciously disobey this mandate and assist an immigrants reentry as corresponds to the immigrant. Although this last disposition is particularly addressed to traffickers, as written in the law it also affects churches, charity institutions and neighbors who provide undocumented immigrants with food, clothes or shelter. The Senate Judicial Committee later approved another bill aimed at incorporating security measures and certain mechanisms to regularize the presence of some undocumented immigrants, as well as a program for guest workers. But this bill had the extremely thorny task of having to conform to what was established in the Sensenbrenner bill, which became even thornier with the signals issued by the US government in response to the huge protests involving immigrants and the groups that provide them solidarity.

FENCES, BARRIERS AND BLOCKADES BUT VERY FEW DISCORDANT VOICES The US governments counterpunch to the demonstrations of millions of immigrants came in various ways. Repression was not missing among the measures for immediate application. As sociologist James Petras charged in a May 3, 2006, article titled Mesoamerica comes to North America: The Dialectics of the Migrant Workers Movement, The Immigration police have recently escalated their mass round-ups at work sites trying to provoke a climate of intimidation. During the week April 21-28, NeoCon Chief of Homeland Security Agency, Michael Chertoff directed the arrest of 1,100 undocumented migrants in 26 states. (Petras, 2006) Soon after, on May 15, President Bush ordered the deployment of 6,000 soldiers along the Mexican border to buttress border patrols pursuing undocumented migrants. Two days later, by a vote of 83 to 16, the Senate approved the construction of a three-fence barrier along 595 kilometers of the border and an 804-kilometer barrier to block the crossing of vehicles between the two countries. It also passed an amendment excluding any possible legalization program for undocumented foreigners with criminal backgrounds, including those who have committed either one serious crime or three minor ones. The government of the country on the other side of these walls justified the wall and the military deployment as providing security to the migrants. Surely it had white-collar migrants in mind. Few voices disagreed and even fewer got heard. Some who did used a double-edged argument. Even a thinker like Jorge G. Castaeda, who spoke of the uselessness of building a wall along the US-Mexican border, described the conflicts around Latin American migration to the North mainly in terms of Mexicos relations with the United Statesexcluding any leading role for other Latin American countriesand advocated policies to restrict the migrant traffic. In Castaedas (2006) words in Nicaraguas El Nuevo Diario, Mexico must assume the responsibility for regulating this traffic, which means more than just sealing its southern border. The government could, for example, double the social security payments to households where the man is the one who stays home, threaten to revoke agrarian reform rights after years of absence from the rural communities and establish strangulation points in the highways on the Tehuantepec Isthmus. (p.14B) In his version of reality, the physical wall must be replaced by a barrier that combines carrot and stick policies with police operations. WHO ARE WE? US IDENTITY FEELS THREATENED A country that surrounds itself with walls and hides behind paranoid measures does not seem very consistent with its self-proclaimed devotion to freedom. The US migratory discourse and policies have marked a major shift that coincides with many other developed migrant-receiving countries. US sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein (2002) noted the contradiction in this shift when he pointed out that the Soviet Union was indignantly

accused of violating human rights when it refused to allow its citizens to emigrate freely, but when the post-communist regimes reversed that policy, the wealthier countries immediately threw up blockades to the emigrants entry. All the evil talk about immigrants is being resuscitated and bandied about. Wallerstein (2002) groups the slander into two blocs: 1) that immigrants reduce the income levels of nationals by working in poorly paid jobs and obtaining benefits from state assistance programs, and 2) that they represent a social problem whether because they are a burden on the others, are more inclined to commit criminal acts or insist on clinging to their customs and do not assimilate into the receiving countries. These perceptions and complaints are the preliminary project of the planned wall. Physical walls need ideological walls. Exploiting his fame acquired with The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington published another book a little over a year ago titled, Who are we? The challenges to Americas National Identity (2004). Its an extensive disquisition on US identity and how it is being threatened by the massive migratory flows of Latinos. It could be called the educated version of all the fears unleashed by the avalanche of Latinos, crystallized in the form of intellectual arguments. It has the virtue of being a condensed presentation of the objections to the migration of Latin Americans in particular, which thus deserves considered attention by those in our migrant-sending countries who are drafting policy and lobbying proposals. Such proposals must keep in mind how gringos view their identity, migration in general, and Latino migrants in particular. Thesis 1: An identitP that has varied Huntington (2004) argues three theses. He begins by recognizing that interest in US identity has varied over the years. Only in the 17th century did the British colonists identify themselves not only as residents of their individual colonies, but also as Americans. After independence, the idea of a US nation took shape gradually. In the 19th century, national identity dominated other identities only after the Civil War, while US nationalism flourished in the subsequent century. In the 1960s, however, sub-national, bi-national and transnational identities began to rival and erode the preponderance of national identity. The tragic events of 9-11 brought national identity back to center stage: US citizens are most inclined to identify with their country when they feel its in danger. Thesis 2: The US creed Huntingtons second thesis is that while US citizens have defined the substance of their identity over the centuries in terms of race, ethnicity, ideology and culture, race and ethnicity have now been widely eliminated, with Americans seeing their country as a multiracial society. The US creed, formulated by Thomas Jefferson and elaborated upon by many others, is mainly seen as the crucial element that defines US identity. This creed,

however, was the distinct product of the Anglo-Protestant culture of the colonists who arrived in the 17th and 18th centuries. The key elements of that culture include the English language, Christianity, religious commitment, the English concepts of the rule of law, the responsibility of rulers and individual rights and the Protestant values of individualism, the work ethic and the conviction that human beings have the capacity and the duty to create heaven on earth. Historically, millions of migrants were drawn to the United States by this culture and by the economic opportunities it was building. Thus, the United States isnt a nation of migrants, but of colonists who came to build the Kingdom of Heaven on that earth. Thesis 3: The Anglo-Protestant culture This thesis holds that the Anglo-Protestant culture has been central to US identity for over three centuries. As many observers have recognized, it is the common denominator that distinguishes Americans from other peoples. In the late 20th century, the importance and substance of this culture were challenged by a new migrant wave from Latin America and Asia, by the popularity of multiculturalism and diversity in intellectual and political circles, by the dissemination of Spanish as a second US language and the Hispanic American tendencies of US society, by the affirmation of group identities based on race, ethnicity and gender, by the impact of the diasporas and of the governments of their countries of origin, and by the growing interest of the elites in cosmopolitan and transnational identities. All these tendencies posed a challenge to the English language and to the US creed and cultural nucleus. In other words, they challenged US identity. Latinos, argues Huntington, are particularly dangerous because there are too many of them, theyre Catholic, they keep their language, and their endogenous marriages and other traits dont lend themselves to assimilation of the US creed and Anglo-Protestant culture. They are a cultural perturbation that could deform the whole ethos that made the Unites States the great nation it is today. As a response to these challenges, US identity could gear itself toward: 1) a United States based on the US creed, but lacking its original historical cultural nucleus and united only by adherence to that creed; 2) a bifurcated United States, with two languages (Spanish and English) and two cultures (Anglo-Protestant and Hispanic); 3) an exclusivist nation, once more defined along the lines of race and ethnicity, excluding or subordinating those who arent white and European; 4) a revitalized United States that reaffirms its historical Anglo-Protestant culture and its religious commitment and values, and stands up to a none-too-friendly world; and 5) a combination of these and other possibilities (Huntington, 2004).

AN IDEOLOGICAL CORNERSTONE FOR THE WALL Huntington wasnt the first to highlight the determining role of the founding creed and the first colonists. Alexis de Tocqueville, one of the major contributors to the US systems rosy legend, went so far as to claim that he could see Americas entire destiny contained in the first puritans who disembarked on those shores. Is it possible to determine the veracity of this affirmation? Can we conclusively describe the identity of a people? The problem of identities, says analyst Fernando Escalante Gozalbo (2006), will always be confusing, debated, difficult to get a grip on, not because it is in itself more complex than others, but because identities are by definition imaginary and can be built making use of anything. The problem can be summarized in one sentence: talking about identity is engaging in politics. Some have mentioned that Huntingtonian reactions are an evasion of economic problems by displacing them to the cultural plane, which is more susceptible to sentimental manipulation around nostalgia and fears of the other. In any event, its reasonable to take Huntingtons (2004) writings as symptomatic of a certain political sector, including the one that approved the Sensenbrenner Law, an ideological elaboration at the service of the less friendly positions toward migrants, the verbal crystallization of a sometimes very pernicious emotion and above all an ideological cornerstone for the wall with which some legislators aspire to seal the border with Mexico. Huntingtons theses need to be debated and taken into account in the design of Latin American countries policies and lobbying strategies because they are the academic formulation of a rejection expressed in other spheres by police nets and racial harassment.

ARE WE A THREAT BECAUSE THERE ARE TOO MANY OF US? Lets respond to Huntington, starting with a look at the numbers. It seems to Huntington that there are way too many of us. Its true that our numbers have been increasing so that we now constitute the largest ethnic minority in the Unites States. There were just 1.7 million of us in 1970, a figure that had climbed to 4.39 million by 1980 and to 8.37 million by 1990. By 2000, the nearly 16 million people born in Latin America and living in the United States made us the majority: 51.7% of the total of 31,107,889 foreigners in that country, 36% of whom are Central Americans and Mexicans (Comisin Econmica para Amrica Latina y el Caribe [CEPAL], 2006). In Arizona, Florida and Texas, over 70% of those born abroad are Latin Americans (US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, 2003). In some states Latinos are more notorious still, even considering the overall population and not just the immigrants, as in the case of states that once belonged to Mexico: 32% of Texas total population, 42% of New Mexicos, 32.4% of Californias and 25.3% of Arizonas are Latino. There would appear to be some obvious arguments for a reediting of manifest destiny.

Even so, we could comfort Mr. Huntington by telling him: Its not all that bad; the whites still dominate. A quick look at the statistics shows that in 1890 and 1910, for example, the weight of those born abroad14.7% of the total populationwas various percentage points above their current weight. The US-born population continues to be very much the majority. Although its current figure of 11.1% migrantsthe UNs Economic Commission on Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC) uses 12.9%puts the United States well above the 2.9% world average, its also well below Oceanias 18.8%. Not only is it not the region with the most immigrants, it doesnt even have the fastest growing migrant/ total population ratio. Much more spectacular than the doubling of its proportion from 6.1% to 12.9% between 1990 and 2000 was the 1.4% to 10.2% leap made by the former Soviet Union in the same period, or the 3.4% to 8.7% jump experienced by the developed nations as a whole. According to ECLAC, the whole of North America shelters 23.3% of the worlds migrants, usually quite begrudgingly, while the so-called developing countries have received 36.9%, despite being less attractive (2006, p.13). In Latin America, the Dutch Antilles immigrant population is 25.6%, Guadalupes is 19.4%, Martiniques is 14% and Puerto Ricos is 10% (CEPAL, 2006, p.15). Clearly many countries are facing much more dramatic situations than the United States, although it is likely that many of the immigrants in those countries are good-natured, prosperous pensioners, not penniless, scrappy Latinos. DO THEY FEAR WASP CULTURE WILL DISSOLVE? In the United States, which is almost as big as the whole of Europe, has a percapita gross domestic product of over $40,000 and a population density of 29 inhabitants
1 2 Information from 1990 and 2000. Information from 1890 and 1910.

per square kilometer, migrant waves cant have the same impact and meaning as in Belgium (337 inhabitants per square kilometer), Germany (233), the United Kingdom (244), Denmark (125), Italy (192), Switzerland (177), France (109) or Spain (79) (Lista de pases, n.d.). But population density may not be the most decisive factor, given the multiplicity of elements at stake. A societys capacity to absorb immigrants is not the only political and economic factor that should be used to define the indefinable and measure the resistance to measures. There are many political, demographic and economic factors: governance and all its tributary tools, labor markets and the more or less aggressive recruitment by employers, population growth rates, etc. Although no society has an unlimited absorption capacity and its impossible to define what it is (although de-penalizing the flows would help us learn it), the cultural barriers raised by xenophobic politicians and thinkers are what most determine the socially acceptable volume of migrants. What is it that so concerns Huntington and many others? The dilution of whiteness? The dissolution of White Anglo-Saxon Protestantism in a sea of migrants? After so many migrant waves from Ireland, Italy, Poland, Czechoslovakia and other Eastern European countries, is it even possible to still argue that the United States is inhabited by English with Presbyterian values? The United States is certainly still mainly a country of palefaces, with 211 million exclusively white inhabitants (75%), nearly 6 million whites with some combination (2%) and barely 64 million non-whites (23%) (US Census Bureau, 2000 b). Even if we subtract the white Latinos from the exclusively whites, we still have over 194 million whites, or 69.1% of the population. WHITE FLIGHT FROM THE LATINO ONSLAUGHT As often happens, the macro and the micro dont coincide, especially when the macro is only an average that doesnt reflect particular situations. The gradual coloration of US whiteness acquires other dimensions at the local level. The transformation of the housing patterns of the micro-spaces greatly alarms the lovers of unblemished whiteness. Certain neighborhoods, city zones, schools and parks are filling up with immigrants, many of whom are Latinos. Some Miami neighborhoods became Cubanized, leading to the birth of Little Havana. Later, as some immigrant waves pushed others out and the most recent arrivals always settle in the most marginal zones, part of Little Havana became Little Managua. Chicagos Pilsen neighborhood has gone through something similar. In the mid 19th century it was inhabited by Germans and Irish, who were subsequently replaced by Czech immigrantsturning this neighborhood into the second largest city of what we now call the Czech Republicand they were in turn replaced by Mexicans in the mid 20th century. Today, nearly 90% of its inhabitants are Latinos (Lower west side, n.d.). Panic is spreading and whites are moving out of many neighborhoods. That exodus has a name: in the United States the expression white flight alludes to the progressive abandonment by white families of neighborhoods or towns with a growing presence of other ethnic groups or whose schools are subject to racial integration programs.

According to journalist Eric Schlosser, nearly a million people left southern California between 1990 and 1995, many of them heading to the more mountainous states. William H. Frey, long-time professor of demography at the University of Michigan, has called this emigration the new white flight. In 1998, Californias white population fell below 50% for the first time since the gold fever. Schlosser notes that the exodus of whites has also modified Californias political equation, converting the birthplace of the Reagan revolution into one of the countrys most solidly democratic states (2003, p.98). XENOPHOBIA: RACIAL CRIMES AND RESIDENTIAL SEGREGATION This white stampede has been neither the only nor even the most ominous reaction to the presence of immigrants. With the imposition in the United States of the notion of whiteness, glorified as a guarantee of physical, moral and intellectual superiority, non-whites have been the preferred target of discrimination. In 1986 a group of 20 white men attacked 3 black men in Brooklyn. Between then and 1995, Brooklyn witnessed 300 racially motivated crimes against blacks, 84 against Latinos and 78 against Asians. The whites, who rule the roost there, stand out among the perpetrators of racial crimes. Between 1987 and 1995, they committed 31.4% of the racially-motivated crimes against Latinos and 18.9% of those against Asians in New York City. In contrast, Latinos were responsible for 8.3% of the crimes against Asians and 2.6% of those against blacks. Asians committed no crimes against Latinos or whites, and were responsible for just 0.1% of the crimes against blacks. (Green, Strolovitch, & Wong, 1998) Residential segregation has affected Latinos more than Asians. In the 1970s and 80s a substantial increase in the residential segregation of Latinos was detected in urban areas with a lot of Latino immigration and population growth. The segregation of Latinos is highly linked to socioeconomic status, acculturation and suburbanization (Massey & Denton, 1987). White flight and racially motivated crimes are expressions of xenophobia, of the difficulty certain groups have accepting the gradual integration of other ethnic groups. Could it be an indication of that bifurcated nation that Huntington lists as one of the directions the United States could take? Or of the nation defined solely by ethnicity, which excludes and subordinates any who are not white? Social reaction is an element that must be included in the lobbying programs. But it also represents a political opportunity in the United States, where the Latino presence is changing the electoral composition and opens possibilities of changing repressive policies into legislation favoring integration. These possibilities will be micro-localized for a long time to come, but they are increasingly exploitable and will gradually multiply the possibilities in some states.

CENTRAL AMERICA IN THE US: NOW POST-NATIONAL We Central Americans dont yet amount to much. According to the racial classifications of the latest US census, 34.6 million Afro-Americans (12.3% of the population), 10.2 million Asians (3.6%) and 35.3 million Latinos (12.5%) live in the United States. Central Americans represent a rather paltry 4.8% of the Latino group, although the 1.6 million of us registered in the census doesnt accurately reflect our real presence (US Census Bureau, 2000 b). Large or small in the United States, these volumes of migrants are important for the country of origin. Moving into the 21st century, various US states and cities shelter more Central American citizens than many departments and cities of the isthmus itself. The 368,416 Salvadorans who live in the city of Los Angeles alone represent a greater population than those of the departments of Ahuachapn, Chalatenango, Cuscatln, La Paz, Cabaas, San Vicente, Usulutn, Morazn and La Unin. The 516,859 Salvadorans who live in California as a whole exceed the population in any department of El Salvador, with the exception of San Salvador, La Libertad and Santa Ana (Datos de salvadoreos en El Salvador, 2003). There are more Guatemalans in California (290,827) than in Baja Verapaz or El Progreso. Los Angeles has over twice the number of Guatemalans than live in the famous city of Cobn. The 79,896 Nicaraguans living in Miami significantly exceeds the population of most Nicaraguan cities (US Census Bureau, 2004). This demographic fact and the economic weight of family remittances and migrants investment in tourist visits, communications and local projects, present a challenge to the politicians of the Central American nations. The article Could the Community Over There Depolarize Politics Over Here? (Envo, 2003) demonstrates the capacity of the Salvadoran migrant associations to invest in projects and tip the balance in the municipal elections, an undeniable indication that the Salvadoran community is transcending El Salvadors territorial limits. The governments of some countries are inspired by this post-nationalism when designing their lobbying campaigns targeting the US government. Unfortunately, not all Central American governments are equally belligerent and they typically work separately, ignoring their common interests and the potential benefits of joining forces. Central Americas links to the United States make our attitude toward our emigrants a serious issue for US foreign policy. And vice versa: the US state apparatus doesnt only administer capital and services for millions of foreigners living in its territory; it also applies a foreign policy based around these foreigners that serves its own interests. All these geopolitical features have been poorly exploited and were conspicuously missing from the free trade agreement negotiations. Except in the Salvadoran case, the Central American political elites seem to coincide with Huntington in their ignorance of this post-nationalismand in their case not even because it suits their purposes.

WECRE A MARKET: JENNIFER LPEZCS ASS Different points of support for the Latino menace that are sensitive for both the native population and the functioning of the US system can be found in the framework of negotiations with the US government. In the first place, Huntington and his followers or promoters need to be reminded that the Latinos living in the United States represent an important consumer market, which has had and continues to have consequences for the status of Latinos, as stressed by academic Frances Negrn-Muntaner: No one knew it then, but the new Latino cultural scene began in 1995, when singer Selena Quintanilla was killed by Yolanda Saldvar, president of her fan club. Despite the tragic aspectin the classic senseof the episode, the explosion of visibility that followed gave many Latinos a new sense of optimism, possibility and self-esteem. The editor of People Magazine, for example, got a taste of that vast appetite for cultural citizenship of more than 30 million Latinos (and their $190 million of purchasing power) when it sold close to a million of the special issue dedicated to Selena in 24 hours. At that moment, the glances of capital and the longing for recognition of the Latinos came together in a long kiss of possibilities, and the current cultural boom exploded. (2006, pp.129-130) In her expansive and acute article, El trasero de Jennifer Lpez (Jenifer Lpezs Butt), Negrn-Muntaner (2006) explains how the body and especially the very Latino backside of the famous US-Puerto Rican singer-dancer-actorwhom many consider the most beautiful woman on the planetbecame emblematic in imposing Latino taste: her Latinodimensioned buttocks, a sex symbol and presumably a manifestation of a not-at-all Anglo-Protestant diet, entered the canons of US beauty and now help define taste. The market is one of the cultural routes that Latinos will continue making use of. The boycott against Republican Senator James Sensenbrenner through his major stockholding interests in Kimberly Clark, which markets the Little Swimmers, Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex Poise, Viva, Cottonelle and Depend brands, is just one of the important pressure mechanisms and expressions of civic action that Latinos will continue to painstakingly employ. WECRE A LABOR SUPPLY: CALIFORNIACS FRUITS Theres also our role as workers: were an indispensable labor supply for the United States, even thoughand in fact becauseit wants to squeeze the lowest price out of us. With respect to the uncontainable migrant stream and the states to which they are attracted, Wallerstein (2002) argues that they must fill some function. They are willing to take jobs that local residents refuse to consider, but that are necessary for the economys functioning. Moreover, given that the majority of the wealthy countries have falling demographic growth rates (while the percentage of people over 65 years old continues growing), nationals could not benefit from the pensions they currently enjoy if it werent for the working-age immigrants who expand the base of contributions that finance them. He adds that in the next 25 years, if the current number

of immigrants doesnt quadruple, there will have to be drastic budget cuts in the public pension system. The New York Times has published data about the significant contribution immigrants have made to the social security system. Important industries in the United States depend on immigrant labor. In some states that dependence is a historical constant. Californias agrarian potential was immense: rich soil, perfect climate and abundant water for irrigationmuch of it piped in from other states whose agrarian possibilities were limited. What it lacked was the labor force needed to harvest apples, melons, oranges, dates, lettuce and much more. First Chinese, then Japanese, then Mexicans and now other Latin American immigrants have come to solve the agricultural labor shortage in California. The Mexicans were the best solution, as it was assumed they would not only work hard for a miserly salary, but would then go back home when they were no longer needed. For that reason there was complete freedom of movement between California and Mexico until 1929, the start of the Great Depression and the year that clandestine migration to US territory was declared a minor crime. At that time, between 70% and 80% of Californias immigrant workers were Mexicans. According to Eric Schlosser (2004), California is the state that has made the greatest contribution to US agricultural production since the end of the 1940s. Even today, he reports, agriculture continues to be its main industry and it still produces over half of the fruit, dried fruit and vegetables consumed in the United States (p.122). IMMIGRANTS FEED THE COUNTRY AND SUBSIDIZE THE ECONOMY Californias prosperous agriculture has run into problems, with the real value of its annual production dropping 14% in the past two decades. Between 1982 and 1997, 120,000 hectares of farmland were swallowed up by urban sprawl, which then competes with the crops for water. The solution rests with the migrants. The permanent immigration flow has made it possible to expand the crop areas in certain zones. One of the crops most benefited by the importation of workers is strawberries. In the early 1970s there were 240 hectares of strawberries in the Santa Maria valley, a figure that has since increased six fold. California hasnt always dominated strawberry production in the United States. In the early 50s it only produced a third of the countrys strawberries; today it produces 80%, generating $840 million a year. The yields per hectare of strawberries can be greater than any other cropexcept marijuana. The technocrats utopiawhich for others was an apocalyptic prophesydidnt come about: not all agricultural processes can be mechanized. Instead, much was Mexicanized, and now Latin Americanized. The labor force is the key to reducing costs and ensuring quality fruits, as Schlosser explains in his book, Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market. Nearly all fruits and vegetables included in the diet of consumers who are minimally concerned about their health, often people with noble ideals, continue

being picked by hand. Each lettuce heart, each bunch of grapes, each avocado, peach or plum. And as the demand for these foods climbs, so does the number of workers needed to harvest them. Between 30% and 60% of the emigrants currently living in Californiadepending on the crop being harvestedare clandestine (Schlosser, 2004, p.123). In the apple industry, Schlosser (2004) adds, this need has demographic and cultural consequences: these are small towns that are filling with Latinos. In 1960, 18% of the population of Guadalupe was Latino; today the figure is 85% (p.147). The response has been white flight and the construction of walls and condominiums that isolate the Caucasians. The problem is that without this labor force and its willingness to work long hours and accept low wages, the majority of Californias farms would disappear. His conclusion is that the clandestine immigrants, generally reviled and often accused of taking advantage of social assistance, are in fact subsidizing the most important sector of the California economy (2004, pp.123-124). CAN THEY DO WITHOUT US? The immigrants keep increasing and the salaries keep dropping. The hourly wage of some California farm workers, adjusted for inflation, has fallen by over 50% since 1980, according to Schlosser (2004, pp.124-125). The undocumented status of so many of those immigrants deprives them of good salaries and other benefits. Schlosser explains that US growers are usually obliged to pay unemployment taxes and accident insurance for their workers, as well as social security and medical insurance contributions. Paying an invisible worker in cash reduces labor costs by at least 20% and leapfrogging the California overtime laws reduces those wages by half (Schlosser, 2004, p.129). Working conditions are established on a daily basis. If Latinos continue to be absorbed by the US labor market, the main problem is the countrys legal framework and its contradictions with the economic system (Escalante, 2006, p.59). Can the United States now do without this labor force? Whats the problem? Things werent going so badly when California absorbed the excess Mexican labor force and Mexico assumed its education, health care and retirement. But it was a different story when migrants came to stay and started demanding services from the US welfare state. Even at that, the situation isnt a drain on the US pocketbook: in fact maintaining the current poverty level of the migrant agricultural workers saves the average US family $50 a year (Schlosser, 2004, p.159). The problem is that the legal framework is being exploited. The abundance of undocumented workers is a blessing for unscrupulous employers. BOTH NEEDED AND NEEDY Something similar happens in the fast food industry. According to Schlosser (2003), in an earlier book called Fast Food Nation, as the number of adolescents declined with

the end of the baby boom, the fast food chains began to hire other marginal workers: recently arrived immigrants. English is now at best the second language of at least a sixth of all US restaurant employees, nearly a third of this group dont speak a word of it and many only know the names of the items on the menu. As Schlosser wryly notes, they speak McDonalds English. (p.107) The weakening of the unionsa drop in members and negotiation capacityseems to put a solution out of reach: Latinos are needed, but also needy and thus easy prey for exploitation. This represents an important challenge for lobbying initiatives: its not enough to think only of remittances, but also of the remitters and the conditions in which they earn the money they send home. Its also an opportunity: Latino immigrants are indispensable to the US market and their labor force could use its voice to win other forms of citizenship. WECRE A MOVEMENT: MIGRANTS ON THE OFFENSIVE In any period of history, politics is a struggle, a measuring of strength. No group can guarantee that it will continue subjecting the rest of the population for ever and ever with the simple argument that its ancestors founded the country it controls. Its about who has more weight and knows how to assert their rights. The unusual reaction of so many immigrants to the legislation that criminalizes migration has demonstrated their capacity to pressure. In little over a month, between March 26 and May 1, nearly five million immigrant workers and US citizens who sympathize with their plight demonstrated in the streets of over a hundred US cities. There were massive protests in Washington, Boston, Detroit, Dallas, Houston, Oakland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Columbus, Wilmington and many other cities. The immigrant workers movement created a new high-water mark , topping the best that the US AFL-CIO labor federation has been able to leave it in its 50 years of existence. Some demonstrations set new historic records. In little over a month, between March 26 and May 1, nearly five million immigrant workers and US citizens who sympathize with their plight demonstrated in the streets of over a hundred US cities. In Washington, dozens of religious leaders supported by over 1,500 activists and immigrantsincluding members of the organization Mexicanos Sin Fronterasheld an ecumenical service in front of the Capitol Building as the Judicial Committee was debating the migration bill that would criminalize 12 million undocumented migrants. On March 1, defying the Sensenbrenner bill, religious organizations headed by Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, held an interfaith press event in which McCarrick called for the defeat of the Sensenbrenner bill because it would fundamentally change the heritage of our nation as a welcoming, compassionate, and open society. He instead called on the government to implement a comprehensive migratory reform that would

respect human rights. He also announced that he was instructing the parishes to continue helping people who are not legalized. Laws can never prohibit us from providing help to good people, challenged Archbishop McCarrick. On Saturday, March 25, half a million people marched through the streets of Los Angeles. Among the demonstrators were Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Cardinal Roger Mahoney, who instructed his diocesans to disobey any law that criminalizes those providing help to undocumented migrants. The Catholic Church thus became a promoter of criminality, as defined in the bill. FROM SCAPEGOATS TO AGENTS OF CHANGE We construct your schools. We cook your food, declared rapper Jorge Ruiz after performing at a Dallas rally that drew 1,500. We are the motor of this nation, but people dont see us. Blacks and whites, they had their revolution. They had their Martin Luther King. Now it is time for us. Illinois Governor Rob Blagojevich also participated in the protests. The work of the migrants is what has made Illinois and the United States great, he said. The diverse immigrants clubs and associations are bearing fruit. There is a critical mass of Latin Americans in certain neighborhood schools, radio stations and Latin American newspapers that is plotting a network of activities and conciousness-raising. Some of the demonstrators placards read: We arent terrorists, were workers and Im not a terrorist, Im a dishwasher. There is now a movement that combines class and ethnic group demands: We want to be legalized to live permanently in this country and we want fair treatment. (Brooks, 2006) Mexicans, Central Americans, Caribbeans, people from India, China, the Philippines and Arab countries, and even some Irish and Italians, marched together, hand in hand. It was evident some years ago that the majority of the Central Americans and Colombians who participated in the Boston janitors strike had no prior unionizing experience in their countries of origin and even less experience organizing revolts. These are newly acquired skills and will be an indelible experience for all these men and women. The migrants are metamorphosing from scapegoats into agents of change. What does this mean for our governments attempts to impact US policies? They obviously cant lobby by threatening revolts by their emigrants, but it is in their interest to negotiate knowing that the migrants are no longer passive and meek and that the persuasive presence of the immigrant rights movement has raised the bar on what can be demanded. Points of agreement need to be sought with numerous and influential groups to break the passive role imposed on migrants. The Central American governments need to keep in contact and foment migrant associations.

WHAT IDENTITY ARE WE GOING TO ACCENTUATE? Will these revolts lead to a bifurcated nation? Are they a symptom that we Latinos are irremediably inassimilable? Were no longer so overwhelmingly Catholic, given that a multitude of Protestant denominations and evangelical sects have invaded our home countries. Nor are we as far removed from US culture as Huntington assumes. Were not impermeable to transnational influx, tourism, cultural remittances and Hollywood productions. On the other hand, identity can be based on work culture, religion, language, social strata, political position Which of these features are Latinos, particularly we Central Americans, going to emphasize over time? Those that most distance us or those that make us fit in more with the predominant identities? Or might we seek a pan-Latin Americanist identity? Identities dont have sharply defined edges to begin with; they are constantly being reshaped and the edges worn down. The problem, argues Escalante Gozalbo, is to think of identities as referringpresumablyto fundamental and unmodifiable features that form a lifestyle, a way of being. Deified identities, thought of as a solid thing, with perfectly clear borders, an objective and indisputable existence. (2006, p.47) Unlike Huntington, US philosopher John Dewey didnt treat US identity as a consummated reality. He rather wondered if the American type, assuming that such a thing even exists, has yet adopted a definitive form (p.64). In fact, Dewey found terrible contradictions in the US culture that for Huntington is so monolithic, so seamless and so committed to the founding creed and religion. Dewey (2003) argued that Americans cover their materialism and lust for money in idealism and altruism, and charged other contradictions as well: alongside the disappearance of the household and the 600% increase in divorces in only one generation, he wrote in the twenties, we find the glorification of the sacred nature of the home and the marvels of eternal love more widely and more sentimentally than any other time in history (p.53).

NEITHER ASSIMILATED NOR EXOPHOBIC Whether Latin American or gringo, identities inevitably contain contradictions, are hard to define and arent etched in stone. US citizens will contribute to the culture of Latin American immigrants and indirectly to that of their families. And the immigrants will in turn contribute to US culture. We Latin Americans must shake off the supposed clash of civilizations and avoid the trap of arguing how superior our culture is, or secretly buying the message that it is inferior. There is and will continue to be a cultural dialogue, but it will be more productive if the immigrants are neither forced into assimilationor acculturation, as Huntington called itnor shut up in their ghettoes as an exophobic reaction. Exophobia, according to Lelio Mrmora, isnt specifically about immigration, but in many cases is a reaction from the immigrants themselves to the context surrounding

them. It develops through the prejudice that the minorities feel in relation to the global society into which they are inserted. For closed enclaves of foreigners, this exophobia becomes a mechanism for maintaining the purity of their culture, religion or race. (Mrmora, 2002, pp.76-77) Work with the migrants must keep in mind the danger of exophobia, at times incited or fed by the xenophobia of the receiving countrys society. Will our social immersion be competitive or collaborative? The danger of both the US and Latino cultures isolating themselves must be eliminated if there is to be a fertile dialogue between the two. Only by seeking dialogue and cultural vulnerability will the immigrants movement be able to improve its political position and discursive production, allowing it to open a debate with Huntington and his followers, as well as with other more friendly interlocutors.

LEARNING HISTORY TO DISLODGE IDEOLOGICAL BRICKS We need to know US history better, as it is one to which we Latinos have been and sometimes still are a forced party. We must especially learn the history of the different waves of immigrants and their role constructing that immense country in order to unmask the rosy WASP legend and project possible changes as a result of the massive and growing immigration of Latinos. We need to understand the significance that these immigrants have had and could continue having in the history of the United States, a country built on dialogue, debate and at times cultural disputes, but always capable of incorporating other traditions. The struggle for immigrants rights is waged in the streets, in governmental offices, in the houses of Congress and in party platforms, but also in the media, academic debate and many other spheres. That struggle cant be reduced to a mere sum-up of petitions and signatures. It must extend to the production of a more ambitious effect: a change of conceptions, the redesign of a vision, corrective surgery to a cornea that views others with fear and superstitiously venerates the principle of territoriality. In other words, there is a need to dissolve the walls very visible and dense ideological bricks. Those histories that do not jive with the rosy legend of a group of Puritan colonists who came to build a promissory world have to be rescued. Doing so will help eliminate Huntingtons thesis that the recent waves of migrants are radically different from the first migrants who came from England in the 17th centuryalthough in many respects they unquestionably are, because they arent appropriating the natives possessions or trying to exterminate them.

ROSY LEGENDS VS. THE REAL HISTORY The first immigrants, the self-defined pilgrims, cultivated the myth that they were led to the promised land by the hand of God. Theres nothing like divine predestination to justify the colonization of a territory partially occupied by others. Todays migrants have not attempted to spread such a persuasive myth. The objective of improving ones living conditions appears banal compared to the sacred mission of founding a new world. Todays foreigners seem more like coat-tailers seeking to enjoyand possible destroywhat others worked so hard to build. Huntington echoes Tocquevilles rosy legend (2002) about that group of pilgrims who established themselves in New England. He argues that it wasnt need that obliged them to leave their country, given that they left behind a valuable social position and solid means of existence behind. Nor, he insists, did they head off to the New World to improve their situation or increase their wealth. Waxing somewhat melodramatic he claims that these people renounced all that in obedience to a purely intellectual need, exposing themselves to the inevitable rigors of exile, pursuing the triumph of an idea. (p.67) Tocqueville, who visited the United States in the first half of the 19th century, insisted that all immigrants spoke English and came to a territory that the natives were incapable of exploiting since they had been put there as if awaiting the arrival of those who would come to build a great nation. The real history is quite different. For many years the United States and the rest of the Americas provided an opportunity for the agglomerated populations of Europe to flee poverty and oppression, as US historian Arthur Meier Schlesinger recognized in 1921 (p.71). In The Significance of Immigration in American History, Schlesinger reminds us that the constant migratory flows have played a fruitful and leading role in the most singular events of US history. In a broad sense, the entire history of the United States is, at bottom, the history of successive migratory waves and the adaptation of the new arrivals and their descendents to the new surroundings offered by the Western Hemisphere (Schlesinger, 1921, p.72). The influence of these migratory waves can be traced in the legal systems, customs and institutions of many zones of the United States.

WITH ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL MOTIVES The migrants motives were quite varied, although now some want to reduce them to the construction of an earthly paradise. Schlesinger recognizes that while religious motivation has been emphasized in the history of colonization, it should not be forgotten that the economic impulse, operating independently or reinforcing the religious conviction, prompted tens of thousands to flee to America. Huntingtons position is nothing new, which is why Schlesinger felt obliged to warn that yesterdays migrants had the same motives as todays: to escape political or religious oppression and to improve their living conditions (Schlesinger, 1921, p.73).

The impulse to migrate was laced with mundanity. Big business also profited from and thus actively promoted the migratory flows, and some private companies attempted to control and exploit them for their own benefit. A group of London merchants formed the Moscow Company as early as 1553 to organize the fur trade in Russia, which by 1584, led to the founding of the Artic port town of Arkhangelsk. In 1600 the East Indies Company was formed to exploit trade with the Far East. If those businesses could be lucrative, so could a colonizing enterprise (Asimov, 2004 a). On April 10, 1606, two groups of Englishmen representing the London Company and the Plymouth Company obtained official permission to colonize the eastern coast of North America between the 34th and 35th parallels, in other words from the coast of what is now North Carolina to Maine (Asimov, 2004 a, pp.92-93). The first group of British colonists, located in Jamestown, was established on May 13, 1607, by the London Company, a commercial corporation primarily interested in profits for its stockholders based on the colonists endeavor. WITH COYOTES AND CRIMINALS William Penn was a Quaker who, after the first settlements in his dominions of Pennsylvania, wasted no opportunity to stimulate immigration artificially because the resulting improved land value implied an increase in his income. Penn publicized his lands throughout Europe, offering enormous extensions at nominal prices and describing the political and religious advantages of living under his rule. He maintained paid agents in the Rhine Valleythey would be called coyotes or traffickers todaywhose effectiveness is shown by the fact that within two decades German immigrants represented nearly half of the population (Asimov, 2004 a, pp.73-74). Another source of assisted immigration was the European countries custom of emptying their prisons into their colonies. It is estimated that Great Britain sent 50,000 criminals to the 13 colonies. In their defense it must be recognized that the penal code of the day prescribed the death penalty for the theft of nothing more than a chunk of cheap meat (Schlesinger, 1921, p.74). Many of these prisoners were serving sentences for unpaid debts, as was the case with the 1,400 colonists who in 1749 founded Halifax, a city that became the center of the British colonial government and afterward the capital of Nova Scotia, in present-day Canada (Asimov, 2004 a, p.213). Women of irregular conduct were also deported to America in the 18th century. Prisons and hospitals such as Salptriere in France were the waiting rooms for deportation to America (Sol, 2005, p.74). THOROUGHBRED OR MIXED RACES? It is not always understood that even the population of the 13 English colonies was a mix of racial types. In New England the majority of the first inhabitants were in fact English,

due to the puritan policy of religious exclusivity. But the other British colonies that gave origin to the United States saw the arrival of a large number of people of diverse racial origins who left their imprint on the native culture and, to a lesser degree, the language. Hence Schlesinger (1921, p.75) finds it instructive to recall that the great flow of English puritans did not exceed 20,000, while over 150,000 Scottish and Irish Presbyterians settled in the colonies during the 18th century. Given that the coastal cities had filled with English settlers, the new groups settled in valleys further inland, where they occupied fertile lands and acted as buffers against the indigenous forays on the old settlements. A group consciousness rapidly developed in response to the organized efforts of the seaboards Anglo-American minorities to minimize the influence of the frontier population in the colonial tribunals and legislatures, and they missed no occasion to enforce their interests. As the rupture with Great Britain was approaching, non-English groups in the rural zones, less inclined to loyalty to the English Crown, were a driving force behind the independence movement. They were decisive in Pennsylvania and South Carolina, where the bonds of loyalty were especially strong (Schlesinger, 1921, p.75). A key contributor to the independence cause was Polish-born Haym Solomon, one of thousands of Jews who lived in the United States. He advanced the Continental Army $700,000, which he never recovered (Asimov, 2004 b, p.145). Eight of the most prominent men of early New York history werent English, but Scottish, German, Prussian, French, Dutch and Swedish. Of the 56 brave men who signed the Declaration of Independence, 18 were not of English origin. In 1779, Joseph Galloway of Pennsylvania, who fought on the side of the Crown, declared before the House of Commons that the patriot army had barely a quarter native-born Americans, a quarter English and Scots, and two quarters Irish (Schlesinger, 1921, p.76). The flow of migrants was also decisive in the Civil War. Schlesinger (1921) estimated that the 84% increase in the foreign population in the decade prior to the war was vitally important to the future of the Union. Germans and Irish provided more troops to the federal armies as a proportion of their total population than the natives (p.79). THIRTEEN NATIONS IN DIALOGUE, FEROCIOUS DEBATES AND DISPUTES The glorifying legend of Anglo-Protestantism has a lot of cracks. The US Declaration of Independence did not found a new and independent nation, but 13 new, independent nations with uncertain borders and a great deal of mutual hostility (Asimov, 2004 b, p.84). The United States is the product of a dialogue, and at times of ferocious debates, in which migrants and the migratory issue played a belligerent role. The Federalist Party, dominated by aristocratic politicians who were determined to extinguish the heresy known as democracy, especially of French origin, bitterly recognized

immigration as the promoter of democracy or of mobocracy, which is when a majority temporarily introduces new ideas without considering the established norms or rights of the minority (read aristocracy) once the decision-making procedures, discourses and processes have collapsed. According to Isaac Asimov, the American conservatives feared the foreign agitators (as has also been the case ever since) and the ultra-Federalists saw in them an opportunity to consolidate its dominion over the country and turn it into an aristocratic republic, a kind of kingless Great Britain. In 1798 they pushed through the Aliens and Sedition Act to prevent aliens from cultivating the dangerous doctrine of democracy in the United States. For the same reason and in the same year the Congress also approved the Naturalization Law, increasing the requirement for naturalization from 5 to 14 years and another law giving the President the right to expel foreigners from the country when they were considered a danger or suspected of treason. Taken together, the laws meant that the President could theoretically expel any foreigner during the 14 years following his or her entry into the United States. As is obvious, neither Huntingtons arguments (2004) nor xenophobic US policies are anyhing new. In 1850, the big corporations recruited migrant workers to the mortification of the natives and non-recent migrants, who complained that the foreigners low living standards made it impossible to compete with them. That argument, together with the preponderance of Catholicism among the Irish immigrants, led to an anti-immigration movement that would remain unparalleled in US history until 1920 (Schlesinger, 1921, p.78). The same reaction, with identical arguments, is being repeated now: the ragtag, needy, Catholic Latinos, content with minimum wages, are stealing jobs from US citizens and threatening to destroy the order designed and maintained by Protestant values. FOOD, LANGUAGES, MUSIC, PLACE NAMES: THE PRINTS OF MANY CULTURES Cuisine is one of the indicators of US cultural syncretism: German hamburgers, pizza, omelets, French fries, many dishes from New Orleans, Mexican enchiladas The same is true of language: in 1643 a Jesuit priest who visited New Amsterdam which later became New York Citycounted 18 languages, and the right to bilingual education is currently gaining ground in many states (Asimov, 2004 b, p.126). So is music: from gospel and blues to hip hop, Afro-Americans have been conspicuous contributors to the musical wealth of the United States. Toponymies, too, offer clues to multi-racial tracks through the United States. New Jersey was named for the English island of Jersey. French domination left Louisiana, Mobile, Natchez, New Orleans, Vincennes and Port Royal. Staten Island was named that for the General States, the legislature of the Low Countries. The Bronx was named after Danish

immigrant Jonas Bronck, Rensselaer after diamond merchant Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, and Yonkers after a Dutch colonist with the title of jonker, equivalent to the Prussian bunker. Florida, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco are only a few of the many vestiges of Spanish colonization. Massachusetts, although thus baptized by a British cartographer in 1614, is an indigenous expression meaning close to the big hill. There are also many other indigenous names: Mississippi (big river), Connecticut (next to the long river where the tides penetrate), Manhattan, named for the tribe inhabiting the island when the Dutch arrived, and many, many more. We have to engage in the ideological battles emphasizing that theres no cultural clash. Schlesingers words in 1921 remain valid: Whatever of history may be made in the future in these parts of the country will not be the result primarily of an Anglo-Saxon heritage but will be the product of the interaction of these more recent racial elements upon each other and their joint reaction to the American scene. (p.82) A THIN RED LINE Huntington achieved celebrity status as a result of The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, which interpreted the international conflicts in terms of the confrontation between the Eastern-Muslim and Western-Christian cosmovisions. The bipolar USA-USSR axis, articulated over two political macro-projects, was replaced by a religious bipolar axis. The weakness of Huntingtons interpretive key has been underscored by various authors through two elemental observations: Easterners arent so extremely different from Westernersthe globalizing processes arent for nothingnor are they sufficiently similar among themselves to present a bloc with a single, compact posture toward Western civilization. Huntington encourages an intolerance based on selective identity-building. Escalante Gozalbo (2006) explains the truculent and dangerous nature of this manipulation: A set of cultural features is chosen, those of a historic moment or those that nostalgia imagines, which serves the same purpose, and an absolute value is conferred on them to define the true identity of whatever group it is. With that one has a transcendental and unarguable justification for political power. The vagueness of culture as an individual right acquires a rigid form, borders, enemies. (pp.53-54) So Huntington pays no attention to East-West conver-gences or divergences within the East. In Who are we? he again embarks on a homogenizing fallacy, continuing to select certain features and exclude others to demarcate borders between what is authentically US and what is spurious. But theres a danger in this business of tracing borders: the thin red line between the glorification of WASPness and racism, between reifying one cultural identitypresented as objective and immutableand believing in biologically demonstrable racial identities. It could be a thin red line tinted with blood. While some go out into the street to beat up on migrants; others stay home inventing myths about identities.

JACKSONCS NOSE, THE HILTONSC WEALTH AND LPEZCS BUTT This thin line imagines more bipolarity between the segments and more homogeneities within them than really exist. Even between those US citizens who best fit the WASP mold there is a heterogeneity that has benefited and will continue benefiting Latino immigrants. Lobbying also has to appeal to and try to rescue that heterogeneity, visible even among those most deeply rooted in Anglo-Protestantism. There is no true, unique US identity, whose limits could coincide with the political borders of the United States, as Huntington would love to believe. What is the essence of an American: the Jeffersonian model or the Hamiltonian one? Who more approximates the US prototype: George W. Bush or Michael Moore? In the past the ideas and actions of Monroe, Rockefeller or Commodore Vanderbilt provided the most recognizable face of the United States in Latin America. Nowadays, Michael Jacksons multi-metamorphosed nose, the glorification of the Hilton sisters wealth and Jennifer Lpezs backside provide more decisive and fluent expressions of US cultural coordinates than any mythology produced by a Harvard professor. Michael Jacksons nose is the living metaphor and caricature of assimilation to the WASP image; a monstrosity that is at the same time the height of assimilation. The veneration of the Hiltons is the concretizing of the cult to money not produced by talent, an ideology that John Dewey saw as vigorous but pretentious even in the twenties because in place of developing those prophesied individualities, what you get is a perversion of the whole idea of individualism to adjust it to the customs of a culture of money (2003, p.60). There is nothing more opposed to Presbyterian morality and the self-made man (or woman) than Paris Hilton, yet few are as idolized as she. Then theres Jennifer Lpez, whose ample Latino buttocks gyrated their way into the most lucrative cultural market in the world. The message is tidy: if they sell, if they buy, Latino asses will be welcomed rather than kicked. And take note: even when not for profit, Latinos have notable successes to their credit in carving out a niche for themselves in US culture at all levels. One of the most grassroots illustrations of this are the murals by Central Americans in San Francisco, California. BETWEEN ROCKEFELLER AND WALT WHITMAN A couple of decades ago, a group of social scientists headed up by Robert N. Bellah conducted a very detailed and rigorous investigation of the culture, values and features of US identity. Bellah and his group asked what beliefs and practices shape the character and social order of people from the United States. The result of the investigation was the book Habits of the Heart (Bellah et al., 1989).

Among other features, these researchers found two that stand out and have a certain degree of opposition: utilitarian individualism and expressive individualism. The first emphasizes the individual effort to accumulate material wealth and sacrifice everything for professional or business success. Expressive individualism is embodied in the immediate enjoyment of life, a life full of experiences, open to all kinds of people, as exuberant in the sensual aspect as in the intellectual one; a life with strong sentiments (Bellah et al., 1989, p.57). An I identified with other people and places, with nature and, in the final analysis, with the universe. The table below is an attempt to represent these identity-generating components in a graphic way, classifying emblematic figures of US culture according to their either weak or strong manifestations of utilitarian individualism and expressive individualism. Obviously the shaded area of the diagram, where both types of individualism are only weakly present, would not apply to any emblematic member of this culture. The poet Walt Whitman, utterly devoted to nature and a life full of experiences, is the most extreme example of expressive individualism. John D. Rockefeller, given his dedication to the pursuit of wealth, is perhaps the best embodiment of utilitarian individualism in US history. Then theres Walt Disney, who perhaps wanted to combine both traditions, and certainly did. Who could say that each of them doesnt exemplify US identity? Perhaps today we could speak of certain ecologists as exponents of expressive individualism in their commitment to turn the I green again, while Donald Trump would be the caricature of todays crass craving for wealth. And Madonnathe most profitable exponent of express yourselfis todays hybrid.


In this exercise Ive only combined two variables. We could include more to obtain an enormously complex and varied matrix: John Winthrops utopian Puritanism, Thomas Jeffersons egalitarian republicanism, Benjamin Franklins faith in progress promoted by individual initiative, Emersons and Hawthornes profound cultivation of self, Thoreaus civil disobedience, etc. No one could have all the features, because its not a question of creating a cultural Frankenstein, but rather about keeping cultural dialogue alive. Can we Latinos contribute to that dialogue? Bellah (1989) advocates cultural dialogues that keep the traditions alive: As long as it lives, he argues, a peoples cultural traditionits symbols, ideals and ways of feelingalways constitutes a debate about the meaning of common destiny. Cultures are dramatic dialogues about issues that are important to the participants and the US culture is no exception. The American culture remains alive as long as the dialogue continues and the debate is passionate (p.48). MORE SPICES IN THE MELTING POT Why not introduce new and multicolored interlocutors to spice up the dialogue? The United States was bathed by a migrant river of millions of Italian anarchists and Irish poor, yet Huntington thinks that they didnt constitute a threat to Protestant values because it was possible to assimilate them. Are Latinos so much more difficult to assimilate? Are they so resistant to assimilation? The more differences there are, the more energetic the dialogue. As Wallerstein said, all countries are characterized by their diversity, which is a virtue, not a defect. A few more spices in the stew will give things more flavor (2002). The demonstrations against the Sensenbrenner Law showed that many documented citizens are in solidarity, and were probably even weaned on the traditions of expressive individualism, utopian Puritanism, egalitarian republicanism, the profound cult of self and civil disobedience. Lets talk, and make an alliance with the gringos expressive side. Lets add more flavor to the melting pot. Lets conspire with Walt Whitman and his followers and celebrate ourselves.


icaragua is very lazy about ratifying international agreements. If it were just a matter of signing, our Presidents would spring forward, pen at the ready, and no protocol, convention or agreement would be without Nicaraguas resplendent signature. But as ratification implies turning an international convention into national law and bringing all existing related legislation into line with the provisions of the signed convention, the process no longer seems so simple or festive. A LOT LEFT TO RATIFY Nicaragua has yet to sign 19 of the 43 international agreements that either directly or tangentially affect migrants. It is followed in this legislative sloth by El Salvador, Panama and Guatemala, which respectively have yet to ratify 18, 15 and 11 agreements. Mexico and Costa Rica, by contrast, have only 8 left to ratify, despite the fact that the former country is a transit route for migrants heading north to the United States and the latter a migrant receptor country. The Central American record for legal negligence in this respect is Honduras, with 21 non-ratified agreements, but even that figure pales into insignificance compared to the United States itself, world champion in self-legislating and legislating for others, which has not ratified 32 agreements related to this issue. The Nicaraguan state demonstrated no hesitation about ratifying the Inter-American Convention against Terrorism, because that gesture earned a satisfied nod from Uncle Sam. But its still dragging its feet on transforming the following migration-related international agreements (among others) into national law: Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea; Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons; Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness; International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families; ILO Convention No. 97 on Migration for Employment; ILO Convention No. 143 on Migrations in Abusive Conditions and the Promotion of Equality of Opportunity and Treatment of Migrant Workers; Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Inter-American Convention on International Traffic in Minors; and Inter-American Convention on Territorial Asylum. POOR DOLLARS When the Nicaraguan government thinks about migrants, dollar signs flash into its eyes like a two-digit slot machine. It may also think about the possibility of mitigating

unemployment. The UNs Economic Commission on Latin America (ECLA) estimates that Nicaraguan migrants in Costa Rica and the United States sent US$320 million back home as cash remittances to relatives in 2000. Even this amount, which some consider conservative, represents 13.4% of Nicaraguas gross domestic product and 34% of total exports for that year. And the amounts have steadily increased since then. The Nicaraguan government has no trouble perceiving the economic opportunity represented by these remittances, but it rarely accepts any responsibility for challenging the human rights violations associated with the emigrants transit, their status as undocumented immigrants, the xenophobia they have to face and their working conditions and access to social benefits. Some multilateral organizationsfollowed by international cooperation agencies and NGOsget fired up just thinking about the investments that could be made with this unexpected manna falling from the US and Costa Rican heaven to those living in Nicaraguas hellish conditions. Reinforcing neoliberal strategy, they organize forums, finance studies and summon policy designers to economic conclaves to conjure up schemes to harness family remittances, including promoting micro-businesses that use them, or the creation of community funds or 2-for-1 programs (one dollar from the central government and another from the local government for every dollar sent home by an emigrants association). As in many other countries without many alternatives for salvation, Nicaraguas hopes rest on poor dollars. POOR DOLLARS HAVE NO FACE, PAIN OR STORY Stripped of their human story and dressed only in cold figures, remittances are never presented as what they originally add up to: an impressive manifestation of family and, occasionally, community solidarity. The worst problem is that only limited thought has gone into formulating policies to cultivate such poor dollars, and then only within the value framework of those who presume everything to be ruled by a rational financial logic. Remittances are nothing more than a faceless providential gift to these policy formulators. They have no pain or story. The emigrants who send them home are just an accident, men and women who leave at their own will and their own risk and who, through no fault of the policy-makers, sometimes return courtesy of the migration departments operating in the countries of both transit and destination. The vicissitudes of those thousands of compatriots are alien to the policy designers, who, feeling no responsibility for their plight, put up no real fight to regularize their migratory status or ensure their basic rights. The Nicaraguan government has done nothing in response to the imminent passing of Costa Ricas new Migration Lawwhich essentially criminalizes migrationsother than perhaps to prepare Central Bank workers to revise the calculated flow of remittances. Another dramatic example that not even Ripley would believe is that those responsible for migration in the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Office of Human Rights Defense Attorney

know nothing about the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, a basic UN instrument for guaranteeing the exercise of migrants rights. The climate of increasingly precarious labor in which remittances are generated is not without its winners, however. Businesses in the countries of destination exploit the migrants insecure situation and even help reinforce it, as it allows them to dodge their obligations as employers. Although improved security would positively affect the remittance flow to Nicaragua, not even the governments fondness for the remittances let alone those who send them is sparking it to come up with long-term solutions. AMNESTY: THE ONLY THING THEY APPLAUD The successive Nicaraguan governments have limited themselves to applauding the amnesties that occasionally come our way as gifts rather than anything negotiated or instigated by our authorities. Like other Central American governments, ours throws great celebrations every time Washington extends the Temporary Protection Status (TPS), a program offered to countries affected by natural disasters or armed conflicts that allows their emigrants to stay legally in the United States. On December 29, 1998, two months after the passage of Hurricane Mitch, former President Bill Clinton granted TPS to Honduras and Nicaragua, which halted the deportation of their emigrants and thus helped both the countries and the emigrants families during the emergency. It has already been extended six times. In November of that same year, for much the same reason, the Costa Rican government announced during a presidential summit in San Salvador that it would grant a general amnesty for all irregular Central American emigrants in its country (Decreto No.27457-G-RE, 1998). For a variety of reasons, the amnesty was not applied until February 1, 2000, by which time many more emigrants, encouraged by the announcement, had crossed into Costa Rica. Between February 1 and July 31 of the same year, the amnesty granted temporary and potentially renewable residence status good for a year to 155,318 immigrants, 97% of them Nicaraguans. So far, amnesties have been forged by wars and natural disasters. Regardless of their causes or authors, though, amnesties are only an ephemeral palliative. They dont deal with important aspects of Nicaraguas migratory problem and hence dont exempt the government from negotiating policies that seek long-term solutions with the countries of transit and destination. Nor do they exempt it from formulating national legislation and coherent programs with international demands that respond to the different requirements and needs of migrant or returnee citizens.

IN TRANSIT AND DEFENSELESS: WOMEN ARE THE MOST VULNERABLE An efficient and coherent migration effort supposes, among other things, differentiated attention for migrants different categories, statuses or stages. Migrants in transit, for example, have different needs than those trying to assimilate into their new country. Other possible variables that come into play here include language barriers, xenophobic legislation or an accentuated ethnic gap. Migrants in transit require special attention. Both men and women who decide to abandon Nicaragua frequently fall prey to some form of abuse from authorities or common criminals. Various factors increase their vulnerability: carrying money to cover travel and lodging costs; the need to kep a low profile; unfamiliarity with the geography and social-cultural scene they are passing through; inability to recognize the different authorities and their areas of responsibility; ignorance of their own most basic rights; and the need to resort to unscrupulous agents who employ means that are illegal and extremely risky for the migrants. Honduras, Guatemala and, above all, Mexico comprise the long vertical frontier that Nicaraguans must cross to reach the United States. Many disappear or are apprehended, murdered or forced into prostitution along the way. Inevitably, women are the most vulnerable. It is essential for the Nicaraguan government to get together with the other Central American governments and negotiate agreements with Mexico that guarantee the rights of migrants in transit. Guatemala is the only country in the region to have done so up to now, and the agreements it has signed are interesting. Consular protection and the creation throughout the region of efficient mobile consulates representing the Central American countries could play a significant role here.

BANDS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKERS The Regional Conference on Migration has stressed the fight against illegal trafficking of migrants. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has done case studies on this phenomenon, presenting migrants as victims of coyotes (smugglers) and their networks, persistently described as being linked to drug trafficking and organized crime. The IOM studies insist that international bands organized around trafficking migrants operate throughout the world. Nicaragua is a country of easy transit thanks to agreements by the Nicaraguan migration authorities to eliminate visa requirements for a number of different nationalities, most of them South American and Caribbean. Beneficiaries include Peruvians, Ecuadorians, Colombians, Cubans and Dominicans, as well as Nigerians, Somalis, Chinese, Indians and Nepalese. Article 21 of the Nicaraguan Law to Control the Trafficking of Illegal Migrants (Law 240), passed in November 1996, condemned any foreigner entering the country

illegally to detention for three months followed by deportation. The same law used to establish four-eight years in prison and the equivalent of US$600-3,000 in fines for the smugglers and traffickers. In practice, of course, only those smuggled rather than the smugglers have actually been captured, tried and punished. The Nicaraguan Network of Civil Society Organizations on Migration promoted the reform of Law 240 to bring it into line with international norms that do not discriminate against the rights of undocumented migrants. The main reasons behind this initiative were the precarious situations that encouraged migrants to seek better living conditions abroad and the fact that Nicaragua is a migrant-emitting country, which makes it inconsistent to maintain a dual policy defending the rights of co-nationals abroad and violating those of migrant foreigners passing through or trying to settle in Nicaragua.

NOT ALL COYOTES ARE BAD Not even smugglers should be pigeonholed. The association of human smugglers with drug traffickers should not be generalized, as the trafficking of migrants is neither monopolized nor even dominated by networks. Insistence on this link and other criminalizing statements tends to disguise the fact that the illegal smuggling of migrants is largely practiced by people, including relatives of would-be migrants, who operate in an isolated and relatively unsystematic way. This suggests that a proper policy should not emphasize an indiscriminate fight against smugglers. An effort must be made to differentiate this heterogeneous world of people who facilitate migrant transit, ranging from simple security guards and drivers to guides who cover the whole journey. And even among these players, a distinction should be made between those motivated by profit and those providing a community service. Presenting all smugglers as linked to criminal smuggling and drug trafficking networks only plays along with the political abuse of migratory control and the criminalizing migration ideology maintained by the recipient countries. Little mention is made of the fact that illegal smuggling and smugglers prosper precisely when the migration controls and barriers are at their most severe and criminalizing. The more controls there are, the more migrants have to pay and the worse risks they have to run along the way. The more rigid and extensive the surveillance by migration authorities, the more likely that the transit will take place in inhospitable places where migrants are often easy prey to abuse and robbery perpetrated by common criminals and even their own guides.

RETURNEES: A SPECIFIC CATEGORY REQUIRING SPECIFIC POLICIES Whether forced back or not, returnees are another category deserving of specific policies. But we have set a dreadful precedent in this area. The repatriation of Nicaraguans in the early nineties began with the signing of the peace accords and end of the war caught the new Nicaraguan government completely unprepared. There were no relocation programs or precautions for handling the social and environmental conflicts caused by the clash between the sometimes-abrupt appearance of settlements and land-use guidelines. The Chamorro government had no policies, financial resources or institutional infrastructure of its own for coping with the postwar return and reinsertion of large flows of refugees and internally displaced peoplewho could not always go home because their houses and plots of land had often been occupied during their absence or even reassigned by the government. Rather than adopt the joint reinsertion programs designed by the Sandinista government and international agencies in the UN-sponsored framework of CIREFCA (International Conference on Central American Refugees), it left those agencies to carry out their side of the bargian alone. Some returnees settled in areas previously declared as forestry reserves, becoming a visible problem. The situation was further complicated by the fact that many were indigenous people (Miskitos and Mayangnas). Another problem was that some of those who laid down their arms settled with their relatives on lands that in addition to having been demarcated as biological reserves had also traditionally been occupied by Mayangnas, now organized as forest rangers by German cooperation. The violence that broke out between the reestablished Mayangnas and the new settlers, whose relationship with forest resources is far more depredatory than the rangers brief not to mention their own culture permitted, could have been avoided with a more far-sighted policy. WHEN RETURNEES ARE DEPORTED\ Deportees will presumably acquire a greater weight among the returnees from both the United States and Costa Rica, the two main destinations of Nicaraguan migrants. Although Nicaragua has been less affected by deportations and has benefited more from naturalization in the United States than its Central American neighbors, deportations may start to multiply due to the rising volume of migrants and toughening up of migration policies in the countries of transit and destination. This tendency is turning Mexico into a very fine filter and the United States into a more inclement expeller. The number of Nicaraguans deported from Mexico has been on the rise, from 1,396 in 2002 to 2,043 in 2003 and 1,564 only up to August 2004. But these figures shrink to nothing against Mexicos deportations of other Central Americans in 2003: 81,361 Guatemalans, 58,630 Hondurans and 28,318 Salvadorans (Instituto Nacional de Migracin &

Secretara de Gobernacin de Mxico. 2004 a, 2004 b). Such figures are symptomatic of how Mexicos migration policies have been toughened up and border controls strengthened over the last 30 years to filter and reduce the number of Central American migrants attempting to reach the United States (Castillo, 2000, p.144). The number of Nicaraguans deported is probably higher than these figures suggest, given that many Central Americans, hoping to reduce the costs of their next attempt to reach the States, pass themselves off as Guatemalans to avoid being returned further south. Between 1998 and 2002, the United States naturalized 4.5 Nicaraguans and granted residency to 14 others for every one it deported. In contrast, just 2 Salvadorans and 1 Guatemalan benefited from residency for every one of their co-nationals deported. Although Nicaragua has a relatively favorable position in this respect compared to the rest of Central America, there are indications that US deportations are rising, which means that the issue should start to appear on the agenda. While only 1,585 Nicaraguans were deported from the United States between 1992 and 1996 for an average of 317 a year, 5,026 were detained for deportation between 1998 and 2002, an average of 1,000 a year. However, even the latter figure pales alongside the annual average of 12,728 Hondurans, 11,215 Salvadorans and 7,934 Guatemalans captured for deportation during the same period (U.S Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service[DJINS], 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001; U.S Department of Homeland Security [DHS], 2002). ARE THEY WELCOMED HOME? Our main emigration flow now is not to the United States, however, but to Costa Rica. In this neighboring country, the deportation of Nicaraguans dropped to 17 in 1998, having reached 1,686 in 1996, but rose again to 822 in 2000. Some of those defined as rejections, a category Costa Rican authorities often use to process the repatriation of Nicaraguans they expel, should also be added to these figures. It actually works out better for the rejects because, unlike deportees, they are not prohibited from re-entering Costa Rica for the next ten years. According to Costa Rican Migration Department figures, 308,942 Nicaraguans were rejected between 1995 and 2000, and 45,206 in 2004 (CEPAL, OIM & BID, 2002, p. 79). The relevance of any returnee policy on the government agenda should not be determined exclusively by the volume and increase of deportations, however. Other, more qualitative aspects need to be considered, such as thos associated with the difficulty of reintegrating, technology transfer, the relationship between returnee communities and the environment, the cultural changes introduced by returnees into their communities and their active participation in the social dynamics. El Salvador has been implementing a Welcome Home program since 1999. Formally known as the Program of Attention to Salvadoran Immigrants (PAIS), Welcome Home is clas71

sified as an emergency program. Its aim is to provide immediate attention to Salvadoran citizens deported from the United States, guarantee their reincorporation into the labor market and offer them psychosocial and medical attention. The program, set up by a commission including representatives from the Foreign Affairs and Interior Ministries, the IOM, the Don Bosco University, the Jos Simen Caas Central American University (UCA), Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic Archbishopric, the American Church of El Salvador and the National Association of Private Enterprise (ANEP), involves complementary activities implemented by different organizations. A similar initiative could be promoted in Nicaragua. A repatriation policy including attractive offers to encourage migrants to return home and insert themselves back into the countrys production could help Nicaragua recover the human capital it previously lost. It can be assumed that many of those people have acquired greater knowledge and skills, and even new attitudes, whether for better or worse, during their time abroad. NICA MIGRANT WORKERS IN COSTA RICA HAVE AN UNDESERVED BAD REP In his examination of the migrant labor supply, Argentine academic and IOM official Lelio Mrmora (2002, pp.144-145) distinguishes between supplementary labor (migrants who work in jobs for which not enough native workers are qualified), complementary labor (migrants working in jobs rejected by native workers in search of better positions), additional labor (migrants who accept low-wage jobs rejected by native workers), competitive labor (migrants who compete for the same jobs as native workers when the latter could satisfy the demand) and marginal labor (migrants who create informal jobs off the supply-and-demand axis). The indiscriminate statements playing up the negative role of Nicaraguan labor in Costa Rica, accusing it of having supposedly competitive or marginal effects, lack any real foundation (Mrmora, 2002). The Nicaraguan government should set the record straight on the incorporation and effects of Nicaraguan labor in the market to stop the Costa Rican government from adopting simplistic migration policies to respond to the dangerous net correlation between the number of immigrants and the number of unemployed Costa Ricans. The incorporation of seasonal Nicaraguan labor has historically had a supplementary, complementary and additional effect on various branches of the Costa Rican economy. Migrant Nicaraguan workers have a long history of supplementing the limited Costa Rican labor supply during coffee harvests. The extensive area cultivated in Costa Rica from 1960 onwards together with the productivity jump increased the demand for coffee pickers. In the eighties, Central American refugees temporarily covered this demand, but they returned home as the armed conflict in their respective countries ended; to the great alarm of Costa Rican businesspeople, the shortage of coffee pickers reemerged. The permanent solu72

tion came in the form of Nicaraguan migrants (Alvarenga, 2000, p.53). Migration experts calculate that some 105,000 Nicaraguans migrated temporarily to Costa Rica in 2000, and this figure has been rising year after year. It is also estimated that the Costa Rican agro-export sector seasonally absorbs around 60,000 Nicaraguan workers, who arrive according to the different harvest times for sugar cane, coffee, bananas, melons, etc. (Consejo Nacional de Planificacin Social [CONPES], 2001, p.33) Some studies suggest that 75% of Costa Ricas agricultural work is done by workers of Nicaraguan origin (Alvarenga, 2000). The Nicaraguan work force on banana plantations alone often represents about 40% of the total (Bannuett, 2003). VARIOUS BILATERAL INITIATIVES Given the proven importance of Nicaraguan migrant labor, Costa Rica has been involved in bilateral efforts with Nicaragua to move beyond migratory amnesties. In 1993, during President Caldern Fourniers administration, the Costa Rican Labor Ministry established the Framework Agreement for Migrant Labor, which sought to produce a strong and enduring impact. While originally aimed at temporary Nicaraguan agricultural sector workers, particularly coffee pickers and sugar cane cutters, it was later extended to the construction and domestic work sectors when it became apparent that barely 10% of Nicaraguan seasonal workers were migrating under the agreement. Later, under the same agreement, the administration of Jos Mara Figueres created the Work Card (decree 141 of July 26, 1995), to regulate the mainly Nicaraguan workers employed in seasonal agricultural labor. In just over a year, 27,300 Nicaraguans applied to the Migration Department for the special passport required to obtain the card. But the card did not fulfill its objectives, in part because the application requirements substantially reduced the number of beneficiaries; most Nicaraguans lacked the original birth certificates or other forms of identification essential to getting the special passport. In addition, the slow and complicated application process increased the transaction costs, while Costa Rican employers offered no advantages to workers who migrated under the agreement rather than doing so undocumented. Convinced of the agreements inefficiency, the Costa Rican government suspended it in 1997(Acua & Olivares, 1999; Solano, 2002). Could this agreement be reactivated, improving some of its mechanisms in the light of lessons learned from the first attempt? Promoting temporary permits as one way to regulate seasonal migration could offer migrants a chance to obtain work, a wage and social protection without the tensions and risks they face as undocumented migrants both en route and in the country of destination, and would provide employers with suitable and timely labor in return for complying with their obligations as employers. The Nicaraguan government, meanwhile,

could set up the appropriate channels for satisfying its populations work demands and guaranteeing the rights of its citizens abroad. Costa Rica, the United States and even Canada and other countries could satisfy their labor demand, offering equal conditions to nationals and foreigners and reducing the previous cost of implementing migration controls. The Nicaraguan government could also ensure access to different services for its temporary migrants. We wouldnt be the first to try it. Guatemalas Social Security Institute and its Public Health and Social Assistance Ministry are implementing what they call the Program for the Social Protection of Migrant Agricultural Workers. With the support of the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization, this program seeks to satisfy the demand of temporary migrant workers for health services both at home and abroad. As of 2002, the program had benefited 50,000 migrant workers, their wives and children under five years old. WHO RESPONDS TO THE PROBLEMS OF MIGRANTS WHO HAVE ALREADY SETTLED? Costa Ricas 2000 census registered 226,374 Nicaraguans residing in the country (Castro, 2002, p.190). That figure only includes those who declared they had been residing or were planning to reside in the country for over six months. Given that it does not include undocumented or seasonal migrants as well as the fact that undocumented migrants tend to avoid censuses for obvious reasons, it is safe to assume that the Nicaraguan presence is somewhat higher. Between 1984 and 2000, Nicaraguans included in the census increased their representation from 1.9% to almost 6% of the Costa Ricas overall population and from 51.62% to 76.36% of the total number of foreigners living in the country (OIM-SIEMCA, 2003), and their weight was significantly higher than the national average in some Costa Rican provinces, particularly Alajuela and Guana-caste, where Nicaraguans respectively account for 88.6% and 86.8% of all foreigners. In Alajuela, they represent almost 8% of the total inhabitants and in the capital San Jos nearly 7%. Neighborhoods like La Carpio in San Jos have virtually become Nicaraguan territory; according to the 2000 census, 49.1% of its 13,866 inhabitants were Nicaraguan (Campos, 2004). But while the number of migrants settling in Costa Rica is up, the same cannot be said of their ability to exercise their rights. Different studies have often shown that employers tend not to report migrants to the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, and denunciations of such anomalies are rare because undocumented Nicaraguans assume that their irregular migratory situation excludes them from social security benefits. According to the Fund, even 40.5% of the Nicaraguans recorded in the 2000 census are uninsured (CCSS, 2004). The situation is still more serious for women, who tend to find themselves at the bottom of the labor pyramid and prone to lower wages (Acua, 2004). Female Nicaraguan domestic workers in Costa Rica are paid nearly 32% under what their Costa Rican coun74

terparts earn (OIM, 2001, p.23). Many of them remain undocumented for years, living as virtual recluses in their places of work because they dont have documents even proving they are Nicaraguan citizens. Established emigrants face many problems as well, including the high cost of consular services, discrimination, socio-cultural adaptation, limited communication with relatives back home, lack of documentation, informal labor status, low wages, etc. Again, there are possible solutions. With civil society support, the consulates could offer a number of different services, such as information, identity card and permit applications and denunciations to the Ministry of Labor and the Residents Ombudsman. Other Central American consulates have had successful experiences with similar initiatives. The Program for Attention to Salvadoran Communities Abroadrun by El Salvadors Foreign Ministryaims to facilitate communication, joint-work and protection mechanisms for its nationals abroad. THE SPIRIT OF MORAZN REDUCED TO THE CA-4 Migrants from border regions are a special group. The productive development and exploitation of what are known as cross-border communities should be part of the agenda of bilateral negotiations. The border region between Nicaragua and Costa Ricaincluding the departments of Rivas and Ro San Juan in Nicaragua and Guanacaste in Costa Rica, and the towns of Crdenas and Los Chiles among many othersis a case in point. Regardless of which side of the dividing line they actually live on, the inhabitants have relatives of both nationalities and common commercial relations and use state and private services from both countries. Formal recognition of this situation, which has established a bi-national arena with fertile interrelations, would be a basic step towards multiplying the benefits and paving the way towards other agreements. Unfortunately, Costa Rica has not yet joined even the functional initiative known as CA-4 (the 4 in question being El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua), despite repeated invitations from the other Central American governments. According to minutes from the Central American Commission of Migration Directors (OCAM), Costa Rican officials tend to thank the other countries for their invitation, but make clear that this is not an issue on our countrys agenda. The CA-4which OCAM considers its great successis oriented towards facilitating the mobility of Central Americans, doing away with visas and requiring nothing more than their national identity card for travel purposes. But the much-trumpeted regional integration hasnt got much further when it comes to migration. The spirit of Morazn [Honduran-born General Francisco Morazn, champion of Central American unity during the early Independence period, was President of the briefly federated Central America] has remained limited to the CA-4, with little possibility of ever becoming CA-5 much less CA-7, were it to include not only Costa Rica but

also Panama and Belize. All the Central American governments have united to fight those trafficking in undocumented migrantsas the United States pays the piper, it calls the tunebut have been unable to ratify and regionally adjust the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. US financing has also been eagerly received for the Welcome Home programs in Honduras and El Salvador, although such a sponsor surely sees them more as Go Home programs. Yet, Central American governments have made no effort to piece together a formal structure for the existing regional labor markets. Nicaragua is one of the most backward countries in this and other respects, slothful when it comes to designing policies for each category corresponding to its thousands of migrants. WHERE TO START? Many peoplepoliticians and public officials from recipient countries at the forefear that conventions and protocols to protect migrants rights could encourage a migratory avalanche and recognition of their irregular situation. They believe such legislation would only serve to bolster the migrants and exponentially increase their numbers. They are blind to the complex problems facing each category of migrants. Perhaps thats where things should start: gradually changing that opinion until they are convinced that human rights are the great migration-related issue and that such rights should be above and beyond any other consideration, whether linked to economics, politics, sovereignty or ideology, such as national securityin other words, above and beyond all restraints and excuses.


large number of sources feed and reproduce the collective view of migration, and particularly of migrants. Researchers, politicians, international cooperants, NGO officials, journalists and the general public all sketch out, disseminate and assimilate a determined portrait of migrants, both male and female. Some depict them as deserters, s people who have given up on their country of origin. And many people in their countries of destination think of them as spongers or even as a threat of one sort or another. How can we begin to challenge these stereotyped portraits?

THE MIGRAPHOBIA VIRUS IS DETECTED IN PREJUDICES AND POLICIES Some of the portrayals circulating in individual minds, the media and analyses include certain data and theories used to explain the causes of migrations. But they often take selected fragments of these theories or concentrate on specific aspects, perceiving them as the whole. In the end, these limited visions produce portraits that are quite grotesque, and the prejudiced images transmitted, these fragments of reality, are used to formulate overall judgments. While only talking about what is visible at best, they nonetheless become the framework for what can or cannot be proposed and implemented. All of these prejudices influence policies and can even lead to a policy of not proposing anything. The world of perception is very important, as it conditions the world of policy. According to Lelio Mrmora, an official of the International Organization for Migration (IOM): The states specific and determined perception of migrations will form the basis of their policy design and their subsequent action plan. Referring to prejudices, she adds that these kinds of reality-distorting mechanisms will negatively influence any objective definition of policies and the possibility of their viability. A clear awareness of the existence of prejudice and of the ways it is manifested and reproduced is fundamentally important in the establishment and development of international migration policies. There is a notorious absence in Nicaragua of any migrant policy, a void partly explained by the prejudices and perceptions surrounding migrants. When statistics are exposed to ideological packets that include migraphobic viruses, the result can be a political apathy that is very prejudicial for the migrants.

NICARAGUANS NATURALIZE MORE FOR POLITICAL REASONS Nicaraguas first mass migrations were political, involving people seeking asylum in Costa Rica and the United States during the eighties. The Reagan and Bush administrations and the Miami Cuban exiles had a political interest in getting ipso facto recognition for them as political refugees, and determined the favorable policy applied to them. Those who first obtained refugee status or political asylum in the United States found it easier to become permanent residents or even citizens, which in turn paved the way for the later migrant flow. According to US Immigration and Naturalization Service statistics, 11% of Nicaraguans residing in the United States obtained citizenship during the nineties, a record among Central Americans at the time. One likely explanation is the US commitment to help its citizens recover properties confiscated by the Sandinistas. Even more revealing is that the number of Nicaraguans deported was equivalent to only 8% of those who naturalized, while deported Hondurans represented 61% of those who naturalized, and Guatemalans 30%. Political history thus established a tendency in which deportations affected Nicaraguans less and naturalization benefited them more. Cold War interests conditioned the US governments perception of why they migrated and paved the way for their insertion and assimilation. The fact that the first waves of Nicaraguan migrants to that country were mainly from the middle-classes also goes some way towards explaining the social sector that continues to migrate there. Labor-related issues obviously have a lot of weight in the more recent migrations, but they are not the only factors behind the drive to migrate or the situations in which the migrants are caught up. As we see, policies and politics also play a role, and those policies can be affected for better or worse by legislators perceptions and stereotypes. Playing down their impact leaves these perceptions intact and only perpetuates the apathy. EMIGRANTS ARE PEOPLE WHO GAVE UP ON THEIR COUNTRY One of the main accusations leveled against emigrantsalthough rarely explicitly formulatedis that they threw in the towel. They failed to fight for their countrys development, for a new Nicaragua, for their homeland, for democracy, to defend the conquests of the revolution, to build the kingdom of God Despite their obligation to create development at home, they set off in pursuit of an individual solution. In this sense, emigrants are seen as people who swapped their country for another because they gave up on the hope of changing it. Many NGOs smell migration promotion in any measure that helps guarantee minimal

respect for migrants human rights. They detect future crises and the failure of their local development projects because they wont be able to hang on to their key stakeholders. They suffer as they watch their target population slipping through their hands and their beneficiaries finding other non-collective and more sustainable ways of improving their living standards outside their communities. Generally speaking, politicians find it hard to understand why Nicaraguans decide to leave a country that doesnt look too bad to them after a few glasses of Chivas Regal. The Left tends to view as traitors those who leave for the Switzerland of Central America, as Costa Rica has been dubbed, or the land of the enemies of humanity, as the FSLN anthym famously described the Yankees. Those on the Right, meanwhile, see no real reasons for leaving a country that has emerged from the dark night, as Pope John Paul II metaphorically described the revolutionary eighties. Why would they possibly want to leave a country experiencing the Bolaos governments new era, with a government supposedly of the people and for the people, in which, as President Bolaos pointed out, teachers can engage in private business if they cant make ends meet with their miserable salaries. They just dont understand that following the Presidents campaign advice of rolling up their sleeves cant solve everything, particularly for those who dont even have a shirt. Certain priests and pastoral agents adopt the same position, although for different reasons. Their basic vision is that we have to produce results where God put us and build the Kingdom of God here rather than anywhere else. Their communitarian vision of development has no place for individual adventure. Like Hegel, they see individuals that abandon collectivity as rents in the precious social fabric of history being woven. This parochial vision, the very opposite of universalism, reduces them to a microproject of very limited scope. They also fear the importation of certain values, customs and lifestyles from the communities that take in the migrants. This cultural exophobia views uneducated emigrants living in other regions as deserters from their mother culture. The changes they adopt abroad often include greater independence from the priest figure and a more democratic style of Christianity less conditioned by the clerical hierarchy, which only increases the alarm, while prejudices and fears are dressed up with rationalizations that tend to demonize migration. ANATHEMATIZING MIGRANTS IN AN UNFAIR AND STERILE VISION Many institutionspolitical parties, NGOs and religious denominationscoincide in stressing the migration-linked loss of human capital. Backed up by statistics, they show that the schooling of Nicaraguans who leave the country is higher than the national average. They do not, however, go as far as to propose increasing the educational level of those who stay

behind. Instead, they throw up their hands in horror at the deserters who deprive us of their skills, without noticing that migrants see their academic opportunities constricted in their countries of destination, a statistic also available to those who care to look. This selective blindness is a symptom of the migraphobic virus, in which data is used to present one aspect of reality as if were the whole picture, or at least the most important factor. These personalities and institutions also coincide in demanding the sacrifice of individual and family volition. But the act of migrating vindicates the sacred right to life and liberty. Over a decade ago, when the Eastern European socialist states were collapsing, German-Costa Rican philosopher and economist Franz Hinkelammert charged that concrete human beings have always been sacrificed on the altar of great ideals, be they socialism, the Kingdom of God or democracy. Many are now condemning migrants in the name of the same ideals. The worst thing about this anathematizing vision of emigrants is its sheer sterility, as it fails to produce either progress, the Kingdom of God, socialism or development. And above all, it exempts those with the power and resources from producing policies on behalf of emigrants and their relatives or those that would increase the positive effects of migrations and reduce the negative ones. MIGRANTS ARE SPONGERS, PARASITES AND OPPORTUNISTS Meanwhile, migrants are seen as spongers in the country of destination. They are portrayed as parasites living off the economic boom generated by the natives and a burden on the welfare state. Migrant women are seen as an even greater burden due to their demand for reproductive health services, the fact that they are more likely to build solidarity networks that increase the migration of relatives and neighbors and because they often come with children who require education and health services. The Costa Rican version of this vision relative to Nicaraguan migrants ignores the contribution Nicaraguans have made to the Costa Rican economy. It conceals the fact that the dynamism of Costa Ricas agroexport economy and service sector development has been based on abundant and capableand cheapNicaraguan labor. Like any prejudiced vision, it again takes one aspect of realitythe immigrants demand for social servicesand turns it into a complete picture that actually offers a distorted image. IMMIGRANTS AS A THREAT: CRIMINALS AND PROSTITUTES Another very prejudiced and widely disseminated image is that of immigrants as criminals. It is true that immigrants who have found it hard to adapt feed the youth gangs. Exophobia is a typical reaction among minorities who find themselves at a disadvantage in

a hostile setting. Turkish youths face off against young neo-Nazis in Germany and Central American youth gangs operate in the Los Angeles neighborhoods. The immigrants path towards participating in established, socially acceptable and politically correct activities is strewn with pitfalls, whether in Costa Rica, the United States, Europe or any other country. US prisons have historically been packed with migrants and their immediate descendents: the Irish in the 19th century; Italians at the beginning of the 20th; and Latinos at the end of the 20th and beginning of this one. In all probability, they arent always sent to prison for committing more crimes, but rather because they find themselves under closer police scrutiny, receive harsher punishments and dont have the wherewithal to defend themselves as well as most whites. If the men are viewed as criminals, the women are seen as prostitutes, or in the best of cases easy. Xenophobia distorts real problems. Magnified and generalized, they make migrants appear to be a real threat. The media play a regrettable role in disseminating such pejorative stereotypes of immigrants. There is also a great deal of cryptic material in Hollywood films about aliens from outer space that plays on these perceptions, suggesting that aliensin the migrant sense of the wordare invading the country in real life as well with the malicious intention of taking power and doing away with humanread Caucasianbeings. National security is under threat. Its surely no coincidence that the movie Men in Black opens with the unmasking of an alien that was trying to pass itself off as a Mexican wetback crossing the border. RACISM AGAINST IMMIGRANTS The solution dreamed up by the governments receiving immigrants is to apply a segmented globalization in which financial flows and commercial products are free to travel, but to avoid governability problems labor isnt. In addition, immigrants who contaminate a countrys governability can also contaminate its race. Racist xenophobia suggests that certain moral features are indissolubly linked to physical features. Many white people in countries that receive black immigrants use the same logic that produces such gems as All blacks are thieves, but not all thieves are black. Costa Rican logic contrasts Nicaraguans with brown skin, indigenous features, wavy hair, no money and a violent streak to its own middle-class white locals with European roots and a peaceful nature. As lucidly shown by Costa Rican sociologist Carlos Sandoval, the very construction of Costa Rican national identity is involved in disseminating such images. Punce Negroide, a character in Salvadoran writer Salarrus book of ingenious Cuentos de Cipotes [Kids Stories] anxiously asks why God made some white and others black. His mother tries to make him understand that blackness is not a bad thing, but runs into a cultural wall that blocks her sons ears. Racism must be confronted in all its forms, but

unfortunately the cultural effects of centuries of colonization cannot be erased in one stroke. Racism is very deeply assimilated and operates against immigrants. Nicaraguans who have established themselves as businesspeople in Costa Rica are no more open to their poor compatriots. Their own physical appearance tends to fit in with the prototype of a Costa Rican citizen, and they are probably as prone as local politicians to accept that immigrant plebeians represent second-class citizens. PERSECUTED IN COSTA RICA^ FORGOTTEN IN NICARAGUA These prejudices, images, theories, visions and perceptions have generated legal and operational apathy in Nicaragua and are producing hostile laws and repression in Costa Rica. The proposed reforms to the migration law currently under discussion in Costa Rica represent a low blow to the Nicaraguans and Colombians who account for the majority of that countrys immigrants. The bill would criminalize undocumented immigrants; restrict their rights; create conditions for the apprehension of male and female immigrants; slap punishments of five months wages and six years in prison on those who house or offer work to undocumented immigrants; and raise the cost, further complicate the procedures and increase the requirements involved in obtaining residency. Immigrants would have to have family links with Costa Ricans and a work contract guaranteeing a wage of at least 200,000 colons (the equivalent of US$468 using May 2003 as the exchange-rate base). The Costa Rican government displays a wide variety of positions. Speaking on a radio program, the deputy government minister called on the Costa Rican population to support the detentions his ministry was carrying out. The countrys ombudsman, on the other hand, called for respect for the human rights of the detainees, regardless of their nationality or documentation. The most lamentable factor in the recent raids on and detention and expulsion of Nicaraguans was the apathetic intervention of Nicaraguas governmental authorities, which amounted to nothing more than a few gestures perhaps inspired by political proselytism. These included the February visit of Nicaraguan Vice President Jos Rizo to inhabitants of the Nicaraguan settlement called La Carpio in San Jos following bitter criticism of his total indifference to compatriots who were being persecuted the same day he was in the Costa Rican capital to see Luciano Pavarotti sing. The case of Rosita, the nine-year-old Nicaraguan girl who was raped by a Costa Rican and ended up pregnant provided a test for the Nicaraguan and Costa Rican institutional structures responsible for attending to migrants. Both failed. While the Nicaraguan Office of Human Rights Ombudsman did act commendably, it had to improvise given the lack of procedures or structures for dealing with such cases. There are no special policies for women, who suffer the greatest violations of their human rights, or to guarantee education

to migrant children and adolescents. And there are no reinsertion programs. In fact, there is little more than repression in Costa Rica and indifference in Nicaragua. Forums and debates have been organized, but no institutional frameworks have been put in place to defend migrants rights, guarantee them minimum conditions in their countries of destination, reduce the risks associated with their journeys and insertion or legalize their status. So while Nicaraguas Supreme Electoral Council is busily organizing elections that Nicaraguan analyst Andrs Prez-Baltodano accurately described as the five-yearly impunity raffle, it has failed to address the issuing of identity cards needed by emigrants as a first step towards legalizing their status and improving their conditions. The Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC) turns its eyes and hands to Miami in search of campaign funds, while the FSLN continues to censure those who left, despite the fact that retired General Humberto Ortega, a former National Directorate member and brother of the partys general secretary, lives in Costa Rica. He doesnt even notice the emigrants with no access to the box seats reserved for the elites like himself who walked away wellfrom the struggle for justice quite well-heeled. Both parties, trapped by their own prejudices, are indifferent to the countrys emigrants. EL SALVADOR SEES ITS EMIGRANTS AS DISTANTBROTHERS In contrast, Salvadorans have reached a higher state in dealing with their emigrant population. Their government stands out in the region for having a migratory policy that involves significant practical formulation and planning. Its actions favoring migrant Salvadorans cover five different areas: lobbying, human rights, immigrants associations, the fostering of relations between these associations and municipal governments and a media campaign. The Salvadoran government carries out intense lobbying of the US government to avoid the deportation of people who have illegally migrated to that country. It promotes the human rights of its emigrants in countries en route to the United States, particularly with the Mexican government. And it has built closer relations with associations of organized migrants in the United States, seeking to better orient the use of remittances they send back to relatives in El Salvador. The government is working hard to foster relations between the migrants associations and local governments from their own municipalities back home. So much so that outgoing Vice President Carlos Quintanilla was considered the President of Salvadorans living in the United States and became an effective and permanent ambassador for Salvadorans living abroad. It has also mounted an intense campaign in different Salvadoran

media to highlight the value and contribution of those who it affectionately terms distant brothers. WELCOME HOME: ONE OF MANY PROGRAMS The Salvadoran government also has active migrant support programs such as the Program to Disseminate Information on the [US] Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), which has been particularly noteworthy since it started up in 1999. Implemented by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the program produces and distributes easyto-read leaflets titled NACARA: a step to step guide for Salvadorans and provides a free telephone information service and a web site dedicated to the issue. Another example is the Welcome Home program, which coordinates the efforts of the government, churches, NGOs, private enterprise, the academic sector and the IOM. The program provides initial support to Salvadorans returning home, including the following services at the airport: orientation guidance, temporary shelter and assistance, emergency medical care, the issuing of documents, support for educational reintegration and the supply of a package that covers the returning emigrants basic needs. The ministry also has a program providing Salvadorans abroad with information on events and activities involving their compatriots. It offers voluntary registry for organized communities that want to establish links with their diplomatic representatives and with other organized communities. And finally, it provides information on Salvadorans who have made a name in the United States, including sports stars, business people, artists, intellectuals and professionals. A third program provides advice on how to apply for the benefits offered to Salvadorans residing in the United States before February 13, 2001 via the US Temporary Protected Status (TPS), an 18-month protection that includes the possibility of getting a work permit for the same period. The ministrys program includes a free telephone information service, a Legal Migratory Assistance Department and different activities aimed at informing the Salvadoran community, including leaflets,forums and press conferences. Finally, the United by Solidarity Program, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, the National Electricity and Telecommunications Fund (FINET) and the Social Investment Fund for Local Development (FISDL), is implementing actions to introduce potable water and sewer systems, roads, sports centers, education, electrification, risk mitigation, health, etc. into municipalities with emigrants living in the USA. The program includes the participation of the municipalities in question, international cooperation, ministries, governmental and private entities, community associations and organizations of Salvadorans living abroad. In short, the Salvadoran government recognizes its obvious interest in establishing communications with its citizens living abroadand has made real strides in providing information

and direct primary attention to its emigrant population. It has coordinated notably in the design and promotion of certain programs, particularly Welcome Home, which includes the interests of the government, civil society and international organizations. Any inefficiencies aside, the very fact that these programs were formulated and implemented in the first place indicates a clear determination to provide coordinated attention to emigrants. THERECS A LONG WAY TO GO Nicaragua has a long way to go if it is to achieve the development displayed by Salvadoran emigrant policy. After all, it has not even signed the UN Convention for the Protection of the Human Rights of all Migrant Workers and their Families. In fact, only two Central American countries have signed it so far: Guatemala and El Salvador. It is obvious that it is in Nicaraguas interests for Costa Rica to sign, but with what moral authority can Nicaragua ask it to when it hasnt done so? In the midst of the Nicaraguan governments apathy and inertia, an initial and essential step is to transform the collective vision of migrants. Lets deconstruct the image of them as spongers, threats or deserters. Lets not even think of them as fleeing from unemployment. In the early period of what is now the United States, the image of migrants as heroic pioneers and valiant colonizers played a key role in their incorporation. But the emigrants themselves also have to open up. Cultural exophobiathe disdain that some feel for the culture of their countries of destinationis counterproductive. Such a position comes from misconceived leftism, a centuries-old chauvinism, the pedantic error of rejecting what you dont know and the kind of provincialism identified by Jos Mart (The villager thinks his village is the world). Emigrants can find positive influences even in the most difficult circumstances. When Chico, the father of nine-year-old Rosita, came home after nine years living in Costa Rica, the best remittance he brought back with him was a respect for animals and plants. Transforming the image of migrants is only one step and certainly wont resolve everything. In Nicaragua, the initiation of creative and favorable policies for the countrys migrants faces many problems, including corruption, lack of state finances, political polarization and those interminable and exhausting power struggles that seem to take up all of the politicians time and energy. But a change of image would at least be a major step forward. LETCS CELEBRATE THE NICA Migrants are a cultural vehicle, which makes them technological pioneers in their communities, transmitters of new work techniques and new forms of organization. They

propagate the ethic of reward for effort made. Migration is not a bed of roses, but to reduce the adverse effects and increase the benefits there is a need to disseminate the image of migrants as people who are opening a window on other cultures and technologies. Lets salute the new Marco Polos, including The Nica, as portrayed by Nicaraguan-Costa Rican actor Csar Melndez, whose theatrical monologue offers a more complex image of Nicaraguan emigrants living in Costa Rica (see the previous article in this issue of envo). In doing so, he manages to rescue that image and dignify it.


entral America is exporting increasing numbers of emigrants. The intellectual production related to these migration flows and the vicissitudes of both their male and female protagonists is part of a struggle to construct a dominant perception of the migrations and migrants. Researchersoften driven by a given political positionchisel out concepts, scatter data, conceal certain issues, prioritize others and modulate their rhetoric seeking the most persuasive tone to define the complex migratory phenomenon, which is riddled with interests, prejudices, ideologies, insights and myopia. Their commitment to specific causes and groups means that their efforts to mint defining concepts are ultimately a political investment. MIGRATION RESEARCHERS: PERCEPTION SCULPTORS The predominant conception of migrants sees them as banking on the possibility of assimilating, achieving economic insertion and cultivating a new identity. There is pressure for state policies aimed at migrants to correspond to the image of migrations produced by social actors (Mrmora, 2002, p.53). The perception of the impact of migration on the economy, culture, ways of life and other aspects condition the opportunities migrants will find. German philosopher Jrgen Habermas (2000) stressed this correlation when he stated that the willingness to politically integrate economic immigrants depends in part on how native populations perceive immigrations social and economic consequences (p.636). This thesis can be extended mutatis mutandis to the countries of origin and transit. In the case of the former, the image we choose to construct of emigrants could have them banking on the chances of government backing, the willingness to negotiate bilateral treaties in their benefit (including agreements on temporary workers), the exploitation of remittances, migratory amnesties and the training of migration officials, among other policies, programs and agreements. In the latter case, meanwhile, we would likely have them banking above all on the possibility of reducing the risks during the journey. The researchers of this reality are like sculptors of perceptions. What room is allowed for political commitment in the intellectual production about migration? Might researchers be able to help dissolve the pejorative and fallacious clichs about migration? With a more political interest, are there perceptions that do not fully capture the benefits of migration and, in contrast, play up their adverse effects? And, finally, what can we do to reduce the inadequate perceptions to their minimum expression?

ABUNDANT STUDIES ON REMITTANCES: ONE-WAY ECONOMISTIC INTERPRETATIONS Central American research on migration tends to be thematically segmented according to the interests and mandates of the institutions financing and/or producing them. The specific studies on Central American migrants by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have focused on family remittances and their potential for activating so-called productive investments (Centro de Estudio Monetario Latinoamericano [CEMLA], 1987; Comisin Econmica para Amrica Latina y el Caribe [CEPAL] 1993, 1999 a, 1999 b, 1999 c, 1999 d, 2000 a; Carrera, 1999). The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLA) has also stressed remittances, but has extended its interest to other issues, such as migratory policies, migrant flows and their demographic effects (Sistema de Informacin Estadstica sobre Migraciones en Centroamrica [SIEMCA], 2002). Studies on remittances normally aim to quantify their volume and their impact on the receptor households investments, with the aim of encouraging the regions governments and private sectors to create programs for family and community investment, savings and housing loans, along the lines of the 2-to-1 model. This model is based on one central government dollar and one local dollar for every dollar migrants send back earmarked for public works in their municipalities of origin. The issue of reducing remittance transfer costs is less mentioned, but is growing in relevance. Most of these studies are done by economists, based on macro-statistics management and surveys that focus on restricted laboratory areas selected for the large numbers of migrants they emit and their very high poverty levels. With respect to remittances, the financing organizations have shown little interest in either the viewpoints of other social scientists such as sociologists and anthropologists, or other methodologies such as life stories, focus groups or in-depth interviews, even to attempt to get at the real chances of implementing the proposed policies. The result of such studies on remittances has been a series of otherworldly and essentially unidirectional economistic suggestionsabout money going from the country of destination to the country of origin. They ignore the vast range of functions and significances of the migratory economy, two-way relations that imply a certain communications pattern and certain effects, the emergence of nostalgia-guided consumption, the redistribution of power quotas and functions of family unity, and many other substantial transformations derived from the use of remittances. THE RIGHT TO EMIGRATE AND THE CRIMINALIZATION OF MIGRATION Contradictory interests can be seen in the research of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Its Guatemala office financed and published a series of research

pamphlets on a wide range of issues: follow-up to the Regional Migrations Conference and the Central American Commission of Immigration Directors, temporary migration, migrants and production, international conventions on migrant rights, etc. Several of these studies emphasized the human rights of migrants and defense of the right to migrate. One produced by the Inter-American Human Rights Institute even elevated this right above all other considerations, including national security and governance (OIM & IDH, 2001). In the regional sphere, however, the IOM has also financed case studies on the trafficking of migrants. These include abundant statements criminalizing migration, magnifying the real power and organization of migrant traffickers and making unfair generalizations by denouncing supposed links among migrant trafficking, drug trafficking and organized crime (OIM 1997, 2000, 2001, s.f a, s.f b, s.f c, s.f d, s.f e). Such case studies serve the interests of those who want to control and reduce migration to the North, presenting it as illegal flows in which workers in the South have no right to participate. They divert attention away from the fact that the multiplication of restrictions on population movements in the countries of transit and destination are making migration a gradually more risky and even lethal option, and seek to present abuses committed against the migrants by the traffickers as the main problem. They proclaim the unquestionable right of nation states to deny entry to their territory to citizens from other countries and criminalize migration. Although written in the laconic, expeditious style of a police report, the dissemination of these studies by state officials helped propagate a perception of migration that stigmatizes the traffickers, an essential strategy in cutting the migratory flow. STUDIES ON WOMEN MIGRANTS The International Labor Organization (ILO) has produced studies on the general situation of all Central American worker migrants, including women. These studies consider the volume of such migration in the countries of origin and destination, showing their weight in the labor markets and documenting the conditions for the exercise of their rights. Studies on female migrant workers include a study by Olimpia Torres and Milagros Barahona (2004) on Nicaraguan migration abroad: An analysis from a gender perspective, while a broad study by Abelardo Morales has covered the more general labor situation. The ILOs interest in workers rights and gender provides a distinctive approach. Given the enormous number of migrant women working as domestics in Costa Rica, such studies offer an important contribution in a key area. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is another multilateral organization whose growing interest in migrants has been sustained over time. It has focused particularly on informing, awareness-building, raising the issue and offering valuable inputs and

advice to policy formulators in a context in which population issues are not the flavor of the month among state officials. UNFPA has financed studies on internal migration, the volume and composition of international migrants, migratory policies and women migrants. Its studies aim to offer an overview, suggesting programs and forecasting tendencies (INEC-FNUAP, 1985; Rosales, 1999; Baumeister, 2004). UNFPA still faces the challenge of conducting regional studies, something within its purview that it should facilitate as a UN organization. THE NEED FOR REGIONAL STUDIES Academics have produced a range of quite varied issues: migrant networks, crossborder communities, communication, emotional relationships, female adolescents, cultural changes, agricultural labor, etc., although much of this production has been limited by consisting of case studies restricted to small territorial extensions. The studies conducted by the Latin American Social Sciences Faculty (FLACSO), especially all those produced in its Guatemalan and Costa Rican centers, deserve particular mention. Given the micro level of such work, its not possible to draw any general conclusions. They do, however, offer possible inputs for national migratory policies and explore new areas marked by very revealing themes, such as cultural and gender aspects (Cranshaw & Morales, 1998; Palma, 2002). Although gender crosscutting has been more widely explored by US academics, as, for example, Sarah Mahlers analysis of gender and power in transnational arenas, Central American academia is also beginning to use thematic combinations (Mahler, 1999; Mahler & Pessar, n.d.). One example was the article by Guatemalan anthropologist Ricardo Falla, How Dollar Remittances Transform a Village, published in envo in May 2000. In all of the institutions mentioned, the regional challenge remains a pending issue. Mexican academics have studied this region more than Central American ones. As a rule, each Central American nation tends to study its own migrants, with the exception of Costa Rica, which is much more concerned about the many Nicaraguan immigrants in its own territory than about its few conational emigrants. This fragmented, nationality-based treatment of Central American migration has only rarely been surmounted, and among those who have failed to do so are organizations whose multinational nature might have led us to expect a more complex geographical vision. It must be noted, however, that the possibility of conducting comparative studies among the different countriessuch as US researcher Edward Funkhousers work (1995) on remittances in El Salvador and Nicaragua is hampered by the fact that the different country offices of the research financing entities do not coordinate their activities.

CONSULTANTS, ACADEMICS, JOURNALISTS: DEPENDENCY, RENUNCIATION, DIVORCE... Whom have these organizations hired to carry out their studies? Most institutions interested in studies on migrants hire consultants, because that form of labor insertion coincides with their requirements: quick products according to pre-agreed dates and prices. The consultancy market includes professionals highly trained in migration issues who are often more qualified than their university counterparts. But the financing organizations predilection for independent consultants often works as a displacement mechanism, activating and reinforcing emigration from the universities, with their best-trained intellectuals shifting to the more lucrative consultancy market. The universities contribute their part to that by imposing inflexible labor practices on their academics, with a teaching load, strict hours and administrative costs that put university researchers at a disadvantage compared to their freelance colleagues. The lack of financing and minimal free time have noticeably reduced academics interest in migration issues. In fact, the same factors reduce their interest in any effort over and above their most essential obligations. The main problem facing both freelance consultants and university researchers, meanwhile, is that they have to adapt to different bosses in order to remain in the market, charging very favorable prices. They have to tailor their products to the funders, accepting themes, censure, dissemination mechanisms, time periods, nuances, tones and approaches. They have avoided certain aspects of labor dependencybeing subjected to a given space and timetableonly to be landed with an accentuated ideological subjection. Some jump from one theme to another, changing emphasis and reconfiguring their thesis with chameleon-like aplomb. They lose sight of their role in building up the perception of migrants and relegate their political potential. Renunciation of their works political influence is displayed above all in the fact that academic researchers and consultants are not disseminating their own studies. There is a growing divorce between academics and journalists, and opinion pages have been almost totally abandoned to non-specialists. At the very best, the studies are presented at forums to the already initiated and converted, then shelved. Journalists rarely have the chance to construct their own point of view around the academics findings, and academics are increasingly reluctant to descend from the pulpit of the Alma Mater to the pedestrian pages of a newspaper. Have they forgotten that Marx and Keynes alternated the production of their macro-theories with journalistic advocacy? THE INTERESTED AND THE NEGLIGENT: UNCRITICAL REPEATERS OF CLICHS... Another audience for the researchers work could be their academic peers, but there is a double lack of incentive for Central American intellectuals to publish in scientific journals.

First, the academic public is not the main target of our products, and we have to respond to the immediate paying client, who has little interest in any points that might be scored in the academic field. Second, it is hard for most academics to access the acclaimed academic journals. The most prestigious ones are in the industrialized countries and many of them are written in English, so those of us who cant speak the language currently in vogue in academia are excluded from the methodological instruments, financing and materialsnew articles and booksthat would help us situate our arguments within the context of recent debates. The result of all of these factors and tendencies is that little is known about the research of Central Americans on migration. The origin of academic segregation was revealed by social scientist Walter Mignolo, who explains that the ethno-racial and epistemological foundations of colonial power and colonial differences clearly influenced the geopolitical distribution of the world and consequent distribution of scientific work. As a result, the First World became the area where sociology and economics were studied, while political sciences were mainly attributed to the Second World and the Third World became primarily the domain of anthropology. In addition to being part of the Third World, Latin America was also part of the Spanishspeaking world when Spanish was no longer an academically hegemonic language. In line with this tripartite division of the world according to areas of study, our continent was considered a place where culture was produced, but not scientific or academic culture. This combination of financial dependency, lack of access to updated and qualified information, minimization of intellectuals political role and academic segregation has led to avoidance of taboo subjects, repetition of old clichs, no methodological innovation, the narrowing of interest to politically convenient and fundable subjects, abandonment of perception-sculpting, and uncriticalhence highly dangerousreception of certain concepts and positions. This, in turn, has led to the dissemination of erroneous perceptions about migrants, molded to the interests of some and negligence of others, with those interested disseminating certain points of view while the negligent either repeat them out of convenience or fail to question them out of indifference. THE FALSE DICHOTOMY OF PRODUCTIVE VS. UNPRODUCTIVE REMITTANCES Lets look at just three of the most successful views about migrants, which need to be exposed to the light of criticism. First, analysts have often blessed and repeated the distinction between productive and unproductive remittances, in which the latter are more frequently referred to as remittances used for consumption, subsistence or simply for family well-beingdevoid of the adjective productive that might lend them a little dignity and get them included in policy texts. Once a concept has been set rolling, its not so easy to stop it. In fact, it is quite common for it to be repeated by many people, as using it demonstrates that one is au fait with

the issue and can correctly employ the technical jargon. When those of us who research migration explain what were working on during forums and conferences, theres always some international agency representative just waiting for the chance to ask, Have you thought of researching productive remittances? The FAO and the IDB are very interested in productive remittances. They regularly organize forums on this highly attractive theme and have even gone as far as to propose the need to reduce the cost of sending remittances, which is a notable advance. But they never mention the need to guarantee migrants human rights, if only to ensure a greater volume of remittancesproductive ones, of course. SCULPTING POSITIVE IMAGES: PIONEERING, SUPPORTIVE, BUILDERS... Without knocking the economic role of remittances, their other dimensions need to be examined as well. Remittances are rarely presented in their most human dimension: an impressive manifestation of family solidarity. Before being applauded and studied as homo economicus, remittance-sending migrants should be applauded and studied as supportive, nostalgic people, builders of communities and pioneers in different territories and cultures, or even as restless, dissatisfied souls. These are some of the images that should be sculpted and that we should help disseminate, because they stress the more existential aspects of migration and would help reposition the economic dimension according to multiple relations. This would avoid attributing to migrants a calculating mentality that operates in the mental schemes of the analyst more than of those who, to quote the French thinker Piere Bourdieu (2003), have repressed their self-interest and therefore refused to subject themselves to the principle of the economy. IS THERE SUCH A THING AS AN UNPRODUCTIVE REMITTANCE? In addition to excluding family investments in health, education and food from the category of productive remittances, as if an economically productive population wasnt also a healthy, educated and well-fed one, the much-lauded but distorted distinction between productive and consumption remittances leads to policies that reinforce a form of neoliberalism that is more effective for being more underhanded. This distinction presents as normal something that is nothing more than a sociopolitical (de)formation answering to a determined correlation of forces: the neoliberal political configuration stipulating that investment in health and education should be private. According to this discourse, remittances invested in health are unproductive because it is

natural for a familynot the stateto invest in health. The only remittances that can be lauded are those earmarked for other areas, such as purchasing a tractor, because that really is an extraordinary investment. In the end, the productive remittances concept means that international organizations would like to see the money emigrant relatives send back home cover the costs of provisions and medicinesthe minimum threshold and still come in sufficient quantities to compensate for the hardly democratic distribution of credit as well as the non-existent insurance against natural disasters and inoperative disability and retirement pensions. That is the great paradox of remittances: essentially part of a tradition of solidarity and collective ethics, they are crunched into being an instrument to sustain a socioeconomic modelneoliberalismunderpinned by an individualist ethos that assumes the dismantling of institutions that implement actions of collective interest. As with the issue of natural disasters once developmentalist thinking loses sight of the fact that disaster mitigation is not just about land use planning and suitable productive infrastructure, development economism reduces migrants to money senders, burdening their remittances with social functions that unburden the state and isolate them from the social conditions in which they are generated. In this respect, it is worth recalling Bourdieus antidote to the a-historical vision of economic science: reconstructing the genesis of the economic agents economic dispositions, propensity to save and calculations. In this case, were talking about migrants inclination to send money home, understanding it as a socially conditioned event that cannot be explained by abstract economic theory alone (2003, pp.19-20), because strictly utilitarian calculations cannot account for practices that remain immersed in non-economic matters; above all, it cannot explain what makes the object of the calculation possible (Ibid., p.23). In this case, it cannot account for the conditions that turn a migrant into a remittance sender. ECONOMISTIC REDUCTIONS Economist Karl Polanyi (2003) examined these economistic restrictions several decades ago, demonstrating how certain policies are privileged by exalting the mercantile economy and conditioning social transformations. Polanyi proposed that the social profile not be subordinated to economic progress. His idea was first to find the essence of historical coexistence and exchange to ensure that economic pragmatism not annul the essential values of human life. According to Polanyi, the relegating of the primitive economy and its non-commercial coexistence to prehistory unconsciously led to a weighting of the scales in favor of a marketing psychology, for within the relatively short period of the last few centuries everything might be taken to tend towards the establishment of that which was eventually

established, i.e., a market system, irrespective of other tendencies which were temporarily submerged. The corrective of such a short-run perspective would obviously have been the linking up of economic history with social anthropology, a course which was consistently avoided The outstanding discovery of recent historical and anthropological research is that mans economy, as a rule, is submerged in his social relationships. He does not act so as to safeguard his individual interest in the possession of material goods; he acts so as to safeguard his social standing, his social claims, his social assets. He values material goods only insofar as they serve this end. (2003, pp.93-94) THERE ARE ALSO TECHNOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL REMITTANCES While the economistic reduction of the concept of remittancesof which the distinction between productive and unproductive remittances is just one manifestationhas been dissolved in other parts of the world, the more complex conceptualizations that reveal the existence of other kinds of transfers and their links to the economic dimension have barely reached Central America. Many Anglo-Saxon academics are currently basing their research on the supposition that remittances are not a monothematic package independent of context. Some social analysts have reformulated the definition of remittances to include elements that are not strictly economic. Sandra Nichols (2002), for example, stresses the importance of the knowledge, skills and technology migrants bring back with them, which could be termed technological remittances. And Peggy Levitt started using the term social remittances in 1998 to describe the spread of various kinds of social practices, ideas and values that accompany the migratory process. These perspectives demonstrate that emigrants also play a leading role in other events and are viewed from other perspectives that form part of a wide spectrum of migratory themes. But Central American research on remittances has very rarely taken up such approaches, some of which are not even so recent. THE FALLACY OF COMPARING COYOTES WITH DRUG TRAFFICKERS The use of denigrating adjectives to describe migrant traffickers is common in the media, fashionable with certain state officials and sometimes reiterated by researchers. In some of its documents, the IOM has presented migrants as victims of illegal trafficking carried out by networks linked to drug trafficking and organized crime, hence similar to these other illegal activities and equally deserving of punishment. The supposition behind this approach is that illegal migratory flows are closely related to the worst kind of criminal activity and are only possible thanks to the worst kinds of criminals.

Its manifest consequence is to justify repressive measures to control migration, under the pretext of controlling traffickers in migrants. To sculpt an efficient criminalizing image of the traffickers, the descriptions need to be taken to an extreme and the events dramatized and associated with the worst-case scenario. As a result, the IOM report on illegal trafficking in Costa Rica says that Illegal international migrant trafficking networks have been detected that both operate from South America to the United States and are organized to bring extra-regional migrants from Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe into the region. There are also local networks, but the vast majority of these are linked to the aforementioned networks. The networks have access to hotels, disguised private houses that put up irregular migrants and provide them with transport and false documentation. The report stresses that they are criminal networks dedicated to the trafficking of migrants. (OIM, 2000) According to the Nicaraguan counterpart report, The Nicaraguan authorities point out that the phenomenon of illegal trafficking in people is closely linked to drug trafficking and there are important connections between traffickers in irregular migrants and drug traffickers. In many cases, the migrants are forced to transport drugs as part of the payment. And it melodramatically emphasizes that national and international networks trafficking in irregular migrants are growing and specializing with every passing day. (OIM, 2001) In reality, while some traffickers do commit many abuses, such as robbery and rape, most coyotesas the traffickers are knownoperate individually and at a low cost. Many transfer kin and neighbors, thus offering a kind of community service. For the most part, then, reality does not correspond to the melodrama of the IOM reports and those who repeat them. The proliferation of the black myth about illegal migrant trafficking undoubtedly represents a partial victory for a certain anti-migration sector. But what does the relative indifference of researchers to the dissemination of this image demonstrate? That they are not aware of the negative effects of certain images? Or is it the financial conditioning of research studies, indicating that its only possible to reflect on topics that obtain funding? THE MYTH OF NATIONALISM The reports on illegal migrant trafficking also fuel and reinforce the myth of nationalism. The criminalizing of illegal migrations, or even the mere classifying of certain movements as illegal, is based on the implicit supposition of a nation states unquestionable right to deny entry to migrants arbitrarily and massively. For many politicians and researchers, the nation is an unquestionable symbol and not a social construction with specific functions limited in time and subject to evolution. Unfortunately, and not by coincidence, the boom in international migration is coinciding with nationalist fever (Castells, 1999).

Spanish philosopher Fernando Savater, who has endured the crossfire between Basque separatist terrorism and the Spanish states nationalist violence, has sought to unravel the foundations of nationalism. Men permanently seek a sense of our being alongside others, something that transcends the herd instinct and is more spiritually gratifying than the force of material needs. The most prioritized of our human aspirations is knowing we belong to a superior unit that is at the same time endowed with and provides meaning. (2000, p.31) The tension between citizenship and national identity was demonstrated in Central America during the eighties by the enormous volume of intra-regional refugees generated by the regions armed conflicts. In certain countries ideological affinityidentity based on an ideological optionallowed very positive experiences in this sphere, as in the case of Nicaraguas reception of Salvadorans. But in others, the myth of nationalism was imposed, setting national security against human rights. And this is the prevailing position among the Central American governments, giving rise to what Habermas (2000) calls welfare chauvinism, which heightens the conflict between the universalist principles of the democratic rule of law and the individualist pretensions of integrity of the ways of life in which one has grown up (p.620). Habermas (2000) leans towards a concept of the state and law that is open to migration. He feels that the democratic right to self-determination includes the right to preserve the political culture, which constitutes the concrete context for citizens rights, but not the right to self-assertion of a privileged cultural way of life. In the context of constituting a democratic rule of law, multiple ways of life can coexist in complete equality. But these must be cloaked in a common political culture that in turn remains open to the impulses that might come from new ways of life contributed by immigrants (p.643). And that is possible because the nation of citizens finds its identity not in common features of an ethnic-cultural kind, but rather in the praxis of citizens who are actively exercising their democratic rights of participation and communication (Habermas, 2000, p.622). EFFORTS AGAINST XENOPHOBIA IN COSTA RICA Nationalism is expressed not only in state and economic interests, but also in perceptions broadly disseminated among the bulk of the population. Fortunately, a group of intellectuals in Costa Ricathe only country in the region with a positive migratory balanceis producing anti-xenophobia studies, based on an archeological excavation of how that countrys nationalist self-image was constructed and what roles it plays. The work of Carlos Sandoval Garca (2004) and Alexander Jimnez Matarrita (2002) are particularly important. Sandovals research is notable for its methodological innovation. Combining research, action and the transformation of the reality being researched through the investigative101

persuasion of those being interviewed, his work offers new possibilities for migration studies as well as research in general. His aim is to break methodological and discursive clichs, expose the sterilizing and pernicious function of those stereotypes and sculpt new images that could lead to a gratifying and enriching social coexistence. WE CAN PLAY A VITAL ROLE Analysis of the created interests, apathy, dangerous repetition of clichs and new lines of research that are molding perceptions about migrants suggestssometimes even requiresnew inputs as part of the monumental challenge of changing the xenophobic, criminalizing, nationalist and economistic perceptions of migration. Research can play a vital role in changing perceptions and adjusting policies to changes in migration and its consequences. This will help focus attention on the appearance of new facets, theories, concepts, international commitments, policies in neighboring countries and those of transit and destination, and links among migration, statistics and other events, such as free trade agreements, natural disasters, decentralization, development strategies, etc. The use of information from the Migration Information and Statistics System in Central America (SIEMCA), which is advised by the Latin American Demography Center (CELADE/CEPAL), is and will continue to be enormously useful. This program for storing, processing and analyzing data is an initiative of the different countries immigration departments and the IOM. It could prove even more useful if synergy can be generated with studies that use qualitative methodologies to examine testimonial aspects of migration in greater depth and apply theoretical frameworks that help transcend the mere factitiousness of the data. It could also generate information at the service of better causes than migration vigilance and control. SEEKING RELEVANT THEMES AND LINKING THEM TO DEVELOPMENT It is essential to identify relevant research topics to enrich national censuses and surveys and contribute to the design of migratory policies. Key issues for orienting the formulation of migratory policies include: labor supply and demand, the human rights of deportees and migrants in transit, and the adjustment of each Central American countrys legal framework to international conventions and protocols on the rights of migrants. We researchers should fight for a migratory policy that encourages research linking development policies to migration; shows how migration is related to other economic, political, social and cultural events; transcends time and space limitations to reach more long-term conclusions rather than being restricted to the local sphere and a determined time; proposes non-controlling measures to deal with migration; monitors respect for migrants human rights; and adapts the concepts of experienced academics in this field.

AND NOW WHAT? For this to happen, there needs to be greater financial independence and a more ethical conception of applying the social sciences that includes transforming research and action. Only then will it be possible to produce an agenda derived from a non-mercantile conception of the contents and findings of research studies. When we researchers present migrants with our findings, they ask, And now what? And when we do an investigation, the interviewees ask, And whats this for? They demand a relatively immediate utility, influence and application of the findings. Latin American intellectuals experience the demands of political commitment much more than academics from industrialized countries. That makes the possibility of replacing politically interested and socially perverse perceptions quite a challenge. It is the capacity and commitment to dismantle those perceptions and produce otherslike ethical sculptorsthat guarantees epistemological and political effectiveness. And at the heart of everything there will always be that question, that call to action: And now what?



he acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has earned a prominent place among the cruelest scourges to afflict humanity. The bottom line of its global impact so far is truly terrifying: 25 million deaths in 25 years and 40 million people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. Each year 3 million people with AIDS die and another 4 million people are infected with HIV (Kraus, 2006).

BEFORE NIGHT FALLS\ The fight against this masked plague has mobilized many good intentions and inspired devastating reflections. Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas (2005), who contracted HIV as an immigrant in the United States, wrote the following passage a few days before taking his own life, driven to despair by the multiplying symptoms of his deteriorating health: I see that I am almost at the end of this presentation, which is actually my end, and I havent talked much about AIDS. I cant do it; I dont know what it is. Nobody really knows. Ive visited dozens of doctors and its an enigma to them all. The AIDS-related illnesses are treated, but AIDS itself seems more like a state secret. I can state that if it is a disease, it is unlike any other known illness.
Diseases are the product of nature and therefore, like everything natural, are not perfect, can be fought against and even eliminated. AIDS is a perfect illness because it is removed from human nature and its function is to finish off the human being in the cruelest and most systematic way possible. I have truly never known of such an invulnerable calamity. (p.15)

EVERY SINGLE HOUR AIDS is hitting Latin America and the Caribbean hard. According to UNICEF (2005), the 2.3% prevalence rate for Caribbean countries is the second highest in the world. Over 2.1 million people are living with HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean, while around 240,000 on the mainland and another 53,000 in the islands were infected with HIV in 2004 alone. This is equivalent to 33 people per hour. AIDS is currently the main cause of death among the 15-44 age group in the Caribbean, where it was responsible for the death of 36,000 people in 2004. That same year, AIDS also caused 95,000 deaths in Latin America. In other words, 15 Latin Americans and Caribbeans die from AIDS-related complications every single hour. Approximately 740,000 15- to 24-year-olds are living with HIV/AIDS in Latin America and the Caribbean,

while the number of 15- to 19-year-old female teenagers living with HIV in several Caribbean countries is five times higher than the number of male teenagers with the virus (UNICEF, 2005). Nicaraguan Ministry of Health figures as of March 2005 show 1,692 Nicaraguans with HIV/AIDS, of which 1,327 are between the ages of 14 and 35. But very different figures were released in an official report by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), which in 2000 was already mentioning the figure of 4,900 Nicaraguans infected with HIV, an estimate it considered the floor, or lowest possible value, of the actually affected population. The highest possible value, or ceiling, was calculated at somewhere between 24,160 and 36,240 people. It has been widely recognized that the notable level of sub-registry in Nicaragua is a real problem. NICARAGUACS FINANCIAL, INSTITUTIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL LIMITATIONS Nicaragua has serious financial, institutional and educational impediments to tackling AIDS-related issues. In addition to the paltry amounts earmarked for public sector spending on health, which isnt even enough to treat less complex and more traditional illnesses, theres also limited governmental interest. Despite some still dispersed initiatives, such as the Ministry of Governments project to train its prison officials to increase awareness among inmates, the National Development Plan, which contains all of the executive branchs strategies in the areas corresponding to it, doesnt even mention HIV/AIDS in the lengthy section on the health sector, and the Office of Human Rights Defense Ombudsman doesnt have a seat on the Nicaraguan AIDS Commission (CONISIDA). Cultural-educational limitations appear to be an even greater obstacle than lack of financial resources. Awareness of the risk of becoming infected with HIV is notably low among the majority of the population. In one recent study carried out in three municipalities, 61% of those surveyed thought AIDS is a terrible disease to which they are not exposed, and 16% stated that AIDS only affect homosexuals and sex workers. In addition, 49% said that if a person has AIDS, it is because he or she had sinful sexual relations and 20% believed that one has to have had intercourse several times before being able to acquire the virus (Fundacin Xochiquetzal, 2003, pp.41, 43, 48 y 53). Given such attitudes, discrimination continues unabated, particularly in the face of persistent erroneous ideas about forms of transmission, which translate into attitudes of rejection. In addition to the vulnerability implied by Nicaraguas poverty levels, two other factors also require special attention. First, anti-retroviral treatments could end up a privilege for the most wealthy if the commercialization of generic medicines is in fact prohibited or substantially limited by the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with the United States. Second, the minimal health service coverage in the Caribbean coast region prevents any reliable knowledge of the true incidence of HIV/AIDS in that extensive region of the country, much less any effective treatment.

THE LAWS OF LEGAL GLOBALIZATION There have been significant legal advances with respect to HIV/AIDS. Nicaragua had no set of legal standards governing detection, the handling of clinical results, prevention measures, response mechanisms for dealing with the epidemic or human rights protection until December 1996. That vacuum was partially filled by Law 238 on the Promotion, Protection and Defense of Human Rights. This law guarantees the human rights of the whole of society with respect to the threat of AIDS, has an educational prevention function and includes the ethical principles of non-discrimination, confidentiality, informed consent and personal autonomy. But due to a contradiction all too familiar in Nicaragua, its subsequent regulatory law has been identified as an obstacle to the encouragement of non-discrimination by establishing repressive measuressuch as fines and the closing of hospitalsthat do nothing to help create a propitious climate for HIV prevention and suitable treatment for those living with the virus. The original laws promoters were seeking to protect the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS by informing and building awareness among the population; they were not looking to create new criminal categories. Not only Nicaraguas legislation, but also that of other Latin American countries and most of the planet, is an expression of legal globalization, of international rights that frequently find themselves swimming against the current of prejudices that are encouraged by the powers that be and end up imposing micro-visions and cosmovisions, sometimes co-opting the best of intentions. THE PERVERSE ASSOCIATION OF MIGRATIONS AND AIDS NGOs, their networks and certain multilateral agencies such as the United Nations Population Fund did as lot to ensure the crystallization of these laws of global legislation. But there are many threats are getting in the way of the conversion of that formal normative advance into common sense, a dominant vision and culturally consecrated practices. Lets take a closer look at just one of those threats: the dangerous association of migrations and AIDS, which, for benign or perverse reasons, encourages a pernicious slide of the unit of analysisand therefore of culpabilityfrom risky practices to at-risk groups. At the heart of this slide is contempt towards minorities: people living with AIDS, migrants, ethnic groups, etc. The kind of unqualified association between migration and AIDS that often underlies all discriminating forces and appears in their analysis is prejudicial both to migrants and those living with AIDS. What better way of justifying panic in response to migrants than presenting them as particularly inclined to HIV infection? What better reason to increase both fear of people

living with AIDS and their segregation than assuming them to be mobile populations, bodies transporting the virus from region to region? Perhaps with the best of intentions, the UNIDOS Network of Capacity Building Assistance Providers (2004) insists that proximity to AIDS epicenters is a risk and demonstrates a correlation in the United States between states with a high AIDS prevalence and those with high migration levels. In descending order, the states with the highest number of Latinos are California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Arizona, New Jersey, New Mexico and Colorado, while those with the highest number of AIDS cases are New York, California, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Georgia and Maryland. In other words, six of the nine states are the same for both categories (US Census 2000 & CDC HIV Surveillance, quoted by UNIDOS Network of Capacity Building Assistance Providers, 2004). Presented with no further analysis on why those states have a greater AIDS prevalence, the association between migrants and AIDS allows a slide towards a doubly-reinforced fear. Thus migrants shift from being at risk to being a propagating risk, while people living with AIDS appear as a fear-provoking factor and are associated, for dark reasons, with the locations, appearances and styles of immigrants. Many studies and preventive efforts have focused on the relationship between migrations and AIDS, running the risk of bolstering the worst causes despite the best of intentions. This relationship has been demonstrated in emblematic cases, such as that of Reinaldo Arenas, a migrant with AIDS. It is quickly forgotten that while his sexual conduct was considerably more risky in Cuba, as demonstrated by his memoirs, it wasnt there that he contracted HIV. INFECTED BY THE VIRUS OF ETHNIC PURITY Associating migrants with AIDS is not, nor can it be, neutral in a world in which there are majorities who fear both migrants and AIDS. The different kinds of majorities and minorities have not always existed. Certain majorities are interested in being clearly discernable from the minorities. When they feel threatened by phenomena for which they have no explanationsuch as globalization, the reduction in the purchasing power of their salaries, the deterioration of public servicesthey become infected by a virus that produces an itch for ethnic purity and begin to look for scapegoats to be exterminated, deported or controlled. Possessed by this virus, their identities become what anthropologist Arjun Appadurai termed predatory. That obsession with purity, the terror that their whiteness could start to be tainted yellow, brown or black, is enough to make a large part of the 70% of the US population that is whiteand non-Latinofeel threatened by the mere 12.5% of the population that is Latino (US Census Bureau, n.d.). Appadurai (2006) has a term for this as well: fear of small numbers. But why fear small groups? To start with, because theyre associated with big

groups: the Muslim minorities in India, the United States or England belong to a gigantic Muslim community, while the small group of Latinos residing in the United States have millions of family members in their countries of origin. And the few people living with AIDS are part of a group that already has 40 million members worldwide. Second, minorities can grow to such an extent that they could make todays majority into tomorrows minority. Latino migrants multiply faster due to their higher birth rates and the family members who follow them over. And just like a suicide bombera brutal example of a dangerous minority as one person who blows himself or herself up destroys several hundredeach person living with AIDS might infect an infinite number of others with a virus that multiplies and crosses borders from body to body. As demonstrated by US writer Susan Sontag, this line of thinking has been preached in declarations such as a charming one in 1987 by Dr. Otis R. Bowen, then secretary of Health and Social Services, which urged people to remember that if you have sexual relations with another person you are also having sexual relations with everyone that person has had sex with in the last ten years. AIDS makes every sexual act promiscuous and therefore dangerousunless it is in a long-lasting, unfailingly monogamous relationshipand also makes it deviant, given that somewhere through the long chain of third parties, all heterosexual relationships are also homosexual (Sontag, 1996, p.154). EPIDEMIOLOGICAL AND MIGRATORY CONTROLS Migrants and AIDS appear in the discourses where public health and the health of the social order intersect, and demand a control over conduct that translates into control of the body and sometimes into control of bodies. The profile of migrants is studied and their traffic penalized because those bodies in continuous movement have to be controlled. For the same reason people living with AIDS are subjected to the strictest epidemiological controls. Fear is what drives the treatment to which both categories of people are subjected. Accounting technologies are also often manipulated and placed at the service of fear. This feverish desire to classify and tabulate is linked to idea of social uncertainty. In an earlier essay entitled Dead Certainty Appadurai wrote I develop a detailed argument about the ways in which social uncertainty can drive projects of ethnic cleansing that are both vivisectionist and verificationist by dismembering the suspect body in their procedure. That is, they seek incertainty by dismembering the suspect body, the body under suspicion. This species of uncertainty is intimately connected to the reality that todays ethnic groups number in the hundreds of thousands and that their movements, mixtures, cultural styles, and media representations create profound doubts about who exactly are among the we and who are among the they. (Appadurai, 2006, p.5)

AIDS helps make such a distinction possible. According to Sontag (1996) , "Illness is the dark side of life, a type of more expensive citizenship. All living people have this double citizenship, one within the realm of health and the other within the realm of illness. (p.11) Construing them as migrants, members of other ethnic groups and people living with AIDS, distinguishes them even more from us. Sontag notes that in the United States AIDS has increasingly become an illness of the urban poor, particularly blacks and Hispanics (p.155).

SURVEYS AND FIGURES THAT PROPAGATE PREJUDICES The building of profiles, the classifications and tabulations of many wes are aimed at ensuring that certain groups and individuals are not like them so they wont become infected by AIDS or migration. Those tabulations have produced thousands of studies that associate AIDS and migration. The study by the UNIDOS Network of Capacity Building Assistance Providers (2004) found that 81% of agricultural workers in the United Status are foreigners and 77% are of Latin American origin. The National Commission to Prevent Infant Mortality in turn estimates that 5% of farm workers are living with HIV/AIDS, over eight times more than the 0.6% figure for the total US population in 2004 (Ibid.). All of this suggests that migrants not only end up in the AIDS epicenters, but are also effectively AIDS carriers. But we dont know whether that relatively small group of farm workers was the object of a more painstaking analysisor vivisection, verificationthan the gigantic native population or even of other specific groups, such as hippies, skinheads, etc. Most of the studies either fail to mention this or fail to mention any substantive differences they might have found. Other analyses focus on perceptions, measuring knowledge about AIDS and its prevention to issue judgments about the vulnerability of certain groups. It is not always true that migrants know less about AIDS than native populations and in some countries they actually know more, as shown in the above table. Some studies insist on the migrants ignorance. One survey of migrant workers revealed the most extraordinary beliefs related to HIV transmission, with 48% saying it was acquired from mosquito bites, 33% that it was transmitted in public restrooms and 29% that it was contracted through mouth-to-mouth kissing. Added to this risk factor is the migrants behavior (Organista et al., 1997). And in this field we have a mixture of findings that range from case studiesto conjecture. It is assumed that migrants are more open to contracting HIV due to new styles of living and sexuality, added to a marked ignorance of sexually transmitted infections and how to prevent them.


CONJECTURES THAT PROPAGATE THE VIRUS OF PREJUDICE It is said that migrants have frequent contact with sex workers because of their distance from their partners and their rejection of sexual abstinence. It is stated that poverty makes migrants more likely to have contact with infected sex workers and to share needles when injecting drugs. The rape of migrants en route to their destination is also included among the factors that propagate the spread of HIV. For the most part, this assumes that AIDS is in the environment and stalks migrants in the form of needles, rape and sex workers, although the propensity of migrants to fall into such sexual or drug-related practices or to become infected with HIV after being raped is never compared with that the native population. A large number of studies propagate the virus of the dangerous association between AIDS and migrants. Some use accounting techniques to study behavior. One, the Survey of Condom-Related Beliefs and Perceived Social Norms in Mexican Migrant Laborers revealed that less than half of the males said they used condoms when they have casual sex (sex with someone you just met) (Organista et al., 1997). The same study showed that 44% of them said they had sexual relations with sex workers, with the married men more likely than the bachelors to use a condom. But these kinds of study, which most abound as they are based on a small sample of migrants, fall into the

trap of the half-table fallacy by failing to show the study group in relation to the broader population universe in which it is inserted. MIGRANTS AND YOUTH GANG MEMBERS: A SURPRISING STUDY IN LOS ANGELES Youth gangs are another minority associated with AIDS and migration. Gang membership is presented as a highly contagious illness and treated as a public health problem by the Pan-American Health Organization. The police see youth gang members as a problem for social order, public safety and governability. Many of the gang members are migrants and one survey revealed that 63% of those interviewed in Los Angeles were Latinos (AIDS Coordinators Office & Center for HIV Identification, Prevention and Treatment Services, 2006). Might they be infected with HIV? That would be a triply lethal cocktail of threatening minorities: migrant AIDS-carrying gang members. No other association could better or more forcefully persuade people of the dangerous nature of youth gangs. No other link would highlight so effectively their epidemic nature and threat to public health. The City of Los Angeles AIDS Coordinators Office and the Center for HIV Identification, Prevention, and Treatment Services estimate the number of youth gang members at 39,000 in the city of Los Angeles and over 100,000 in the county. Even lacking any study on HIV among this population, these organizations took for granted a greater AIDS propensity among gang members given their attitudes towards HIV, their level of knowledge and their risky behaviors, including drug use, sexual promiscuity, rejection of condoms and fondness for tattoos. Although the average age of the 300 people interviewed in this study was almost 21, only 48% of them had completed secondary school. Only 24.2% had medical insurance, 63% were unemployed and 37% said they didnt have to worry about AIDS because they werent homosexual. In the previous 12 months, 65% had had casual sex, 48.7% had had sex while on drugs, 25.6% had had sex with multiple partners and 87.3% admitted using drugs. Almost 60% of those who injected drugs said they had shared needles with other people, 60% had been in prison at some point in their life and 39.3% had been tattooed outside of conventional and safe establishments (AIDS Coordinators Office & Center for HIV Identification, Prevention and Treatment Services, 2006). But after providing all of this data on the reckless game of Russian roulette with HIV, none of the 144 youth gang members who agreed to take a blood test came out HIV positive (AIDS Coordinators Office & Center for HIV Identification, Prevention and Treatment Services, 2006). Furthermore, the survey again fell into the half-table fallacy: the situation of these young gang members was not compared to that of native and/or non-gang youths living in the same neighborhoods.

POMPOUS, DECEITFUL FORMULATIONS REGARDING DANGEROUS MINORITIES These weaknesses in the gathering of information, the limited evidence, the generalizations based on very localized case studies and the conclusions based on conjecture, all of which translate into weak analyses and findings, have not stopped the production of pompous and regrettable formulations. Lets take a look at one example, written by a gender and development specialist who works for a UN agency: The results show that the majority of migrants are young people who travel alone and adopt risky practices that favor HIV dissemination in urban frontier contexts where the sex trade is commonplace. It is also interesting to note the indirect vulnerability experienced by housewives whose partners cross the border and resort to sex workers and, occasionally, to sex with men. (Mora, 2002) The same study goes on to argue that this relation among gender-based vulnerability, mobile populations and frontier situations becomes particularly visible in relation to HIV/AIDS. Womens triple vulnerability to the epidemic (biological, epidemiological and social) is accentuated both among women who cross borders (female migrants and sex workers, traders who provide services to male migrants) and among the partners of temporary or permanent male migrants. Studies carried out on the southern Mexican border with sex workers, truck drivers and the migrant population highlight the relationship between high population mobility for economic reasons and increased HIV/AIDS dissemination. (Mora, 2002) This demonstrates the making of another dangerous association, one in which migrants appear closely linked to another dangerous minority: sex workers. And once again, no comparison is made between the situation of migrants and that of other groups. Why dont any of these researchers aim in another direction? Has anyone seriously researched the relationship with sex workers of the upper and middle classes? THE INVOLUTED LEAP FROM FROM RISKY BEHAVIOR TO AT-RISK GROUP Once HIV was isolated and identified as the cause of AIDS, epidemiology stopped talking about at-risk groups and incorporated the notion of risky practices (Delor & Hubert, 2000). But as the focus of attention slipped and analysis became corrupted by the data gathering process, we witnessed an involution that is bringing back the idea of at-risk groups in which migrants are persistently presented as particularly prone to HIV transmission. For researcher Daniel Hernndez, this implies a reversal of the conceptual advance achieved in the relationship between discrimination and HIV by reinforcing the idea that mi-


grants represent a new risk group that, like homosexuals and sex workers, helps propagate HIV (Hernndez, n.d.). We would appear to be returning to the primitive notion of risk groups, under the guise of groups that maintain risky practices. This label, previously applied to Afro-Americans and homosexuals, is now applied to migrants as well. Some try to save the migrants reputation by distinguishing between riskwith its connotation of individual guiltand vulnerability, a concept that alludes to social conditions. In their document on Movilidad poblacional y VIH/SIDA: contextos de vulnerabilidad en Mxico y Centroamrica [Population Mobility and HIV/AIDS: Contexts of vulnerability in Mexico and Central America], Mario Bronfman, Ren Leyva and Mirka Negroni (2004) clearly explain this distinction: While risk points to a probability and evokes an individual behavior, vulnerability is an indicator of inequity and social inequality and demands responses in the sphere of the social and political structure. It is considered that vulnerability determines the differential risks and should therefore be what is acted upon. (p.21) But when it comes to waging the battle outside the semantic arena, to the practical use of the concepts, a behavior cannot always be pigeonholed exclusively as risky or vulnerable without making distinctions that verge on the ridiculous. People devoted to such affectations would say that doing business with sex workers is a risky behavior and only having the option of accessing the poorest and sickest of them is a factor of vulnerability. In practice, the study of the risky behaviors of vulnerable groups ends up criminalizing those groups more often than not. ARENCT TOURISTS A RISK? The best intentioned studies linking migration and AIDS often take it for granted that migrants end up in the most risky environments. But thats not always true. These studies ignore the fact that the risk is unequal for the migrants depending on whether the environment they are leaving has a greater or lesser degree of prevalence than in their country of destination. Lets take the case of Central American migrants. According to ONUSIDA estimates, Belize has the highest AIDS rate (2% of the population), followed by Honduras (1.6%), Panama (1.5%), Guatemala (1%), El Salvador (0.6%), Costa Rica (0.6%) and Nicaragua (0.2%). In other words, the risks are not always the same. If we take the United States as the destination, with its 0.6% rate, then Guatemalan, Belizean and Honduran migrants end up in an environment that is on average less risky. Obviously any complete analysis would have to consider both the rates for specific locations and individual behaviors. And if considering such factors presumably obliges us to suppose that migrants are living in more dangerous environments than the national averageas in the case of the farm workers in the UNIDOS surveyand have more risky behaviors, one cant help noticing that El Salvadors rate is the same as the US rate even after an annual average of 11,539 Salvadorans were in 1992-96, 11,215 in 1998-2002 and 15,468 in 2003-2004. If those deportees were located

in the epicenters of HIV influence and couldnt help but adopt reckless practices due to the ignorance, machismo and sexual appetites that stereotype Latino migrants, why didnt their return have a greater impact on El Salvadors AIDS/HIV rate? Costa Ricas HIV/AIDS prevalence is the same as those of El Salvador and the USA even though it only has 72,494 migrants in the United Statescompared with 833,803 Salvadorans (Castillo & Corona, 2004)and just 526 deportees in 2003-2004 (U.S Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 2003, 2004). So where does this HIV infection level come from? Many factors are obviously at play, but as were talking about groups, lets turn our attention to tourists, a group that flows towards Costa Rica more than to any other country in Central America. Costa Rica receives over a million tourists a year. In 2005 the figure was 1,659,167, of which 746,108 were from the United States (Consejo Centroamricano de Turismo-Secretara Tcnica, 2006 a). Could they be a high-risk factor? Of course they could, but whos criminalizing tourists, particularly US tourists? Nobody has dared even think about stigmatizing a social group that generated US$1.5 billion in Costa Rica in 2005 (Consejo Centroamricano de TurismoSecretara Tcnica, 2006 b), although many know that certain members of that collective group arrived after having their appetites whetted by shows like the Entertainment Channels Wild On program, with its promise of easy, wild sex with hot, liquored-up natives. While it would be foolhardy to suppress tourism, where at the very least are the manuals advising prudence and safe sex on the part of tourists and their potential partners? They certainly arent being produced by the Central American Integration System, whose brand new web site Central America, so small... so big! proudly displays these buoyant figures on tourism. UNMASKING THE POWER We can thus conclude that there are at-risk groups and there are at-risk groups. The ideologies of terror, with their slippery argumentation, produce certain at-risk groups and exclude others. As in castling, we are led to think not of the migrants risky conditions, but of the migrants themselves as the risk. Instead of presenting them as vulnerable within a dangerous environment, they appear as a vector of the danger. If accepted at all, their vulnerability is offered as a factor in the propagation of social and somatic pathologies. What better justification for booting them out of the country or stopping them from entering than considering them a public health threat, given that they were already a threat to the social order? Article 54 of the new Costa Rican migratory law is the best example of the convergence of such a double segregation: Foreign people will be rejected at the moment they attempt to enter national territory and they will not be authorized to enter, even if they possess a visa, if they are found to be in any of the following

situations... b) Carrying, suffering from or having been exposed to infectious/contagious or communicable diseases that could imply a risk to public health. (Asamblea Legislativa de la Repblica de Costa Rica, 2006) The Sensenbrenner bill (2005), aimed at rejecting and controlling migrants in the United States, also includes repressive measures in this respect and many people have already been deported for having AIDS. This is a form of social and ethnic cleansing peddled as a prophylaxis. These issues and their inter-relations deserve further study, which would help unmask the perverse backward slides and supposedly technical treatments that either innocently or maliciously conceal the political interests at play. And once the masks have been removed, we might discover yet another face of unjust power.


ark Twain traveled Nicaraguas Ro San Juan in 1886, when he was 51, 10 years after publishing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. All that remains of his ephemeral trip are the telegraphic notes from a diary titled he From San Francisco to New York by way of San Juan and Grey Town Isthmus, which never gelled into the planned book. In these disconnected jottings, Twain tells of his admiration for the beautiful route; the fresh, drizzly climate; the coffee and hot tortillas; the carved jcaras; the procession of riders on their nags; the pretty native women with ruffle-trimmed skirts; the beautiful lake whipped up by the wind; the two volcanoes like circus tents; the vine-festooned trees that seemed like ancient ivy-covered fortress towers; the terrace of climbing plants that covered a hill like a veil; the dark grottos, enchanted bends, tunnels and ramparts in an infinite confusion of tangled vines; the caimans sleeping in the sun along the river bank; the parrots flying above the trees... (Coronel, 1985, pp.16-17) All this richness Twain described was already coveted by many of his countrymen. But today it is our own who, coveting the stability and quality of life of Mark Twains homeland and its opportunities for education and employment, are leaving Nicaragua, which never abounded with such qualities and is increasingly bereft even of the parrots, caimans, fresh atmosphere and garlanded trees. WHAT WILL THE UNITED STATES BE LIKE WHEN WHITES ARE NO LONGER THE MAJORITY? Nicaraguans are part of the flood of Latin Americans into the United States. The number of US residents of Latin American origin has risen over 50% between 1990 and 2002, far above the 13% average growth of the total US population over the same period. It is said that Latinos are the most numerous minority in the United States and many predict that they will soon exceed all other minorities put together. This and other related facts spark many questions. Will these Latinos totally assimilate, adopting Anglo-Saxon cultural patterns, or will the Latin culture increase its influence over time? What cultural impact do these immigrants have now and will they continue to have in their communities of origin? What impact will the remittances they send back have on their home communities? Will bilingual education become generalized in the United States? What will the United States be like when whites are no longer the majority? Will Latinos be able to win more political space and have an effect on

immigration and naturalization laws? Will such influence translate into more openings for new migrants or will we see the reinforcing of the wall along the Ro Grande? Will the first, firmly established, Latino migrants jealously guard migratory control or will ethnic solidarity blossom? Will interracial marriages among Anglo Saxons, Latinos, Asians and Afro-Americans increase? Will the currently low educational levels of Latinos improve? Will Latinos break down residential segregation more easily? Will Latino women change the traditional macho aversion of Latino men to sharing household chores? Will the fact that immigrant Latino women earn as much as their husbands give them greater decision-making power in the home and help roll back the patriarchal system? Will Latino crime rates drop over timeas happened with the Irish and Italians once they were assimilated into the established populationor will Latinos, like the majority of Afro-Americans, remain with the lowest wages and scant participation in politics, living in marginalized neighborhoods and occupying a disproportionate number of prison cells? NEW CONCEPTS: TRANSNATIONALISM, ASSIMILATION AND WHITENING Migrant studies have generated many new concepts, which despite having emerged from a particular discipline are now shared by all the social sciences. Transnationalism, whiteness and assimilation are perhaps the best known and most controversial, and are on the research agendas of thousands of academics. Latinos living in the United States have become one of the subjects most covered by US university research centers and by the most disciplines, including demography, history, political science, sociology, anthropology and even several branches of law. And it is no accident that many of the research experts are descendents of Latinos searching for their own roots or looking to improve the conditions in which their ethnic group is developing. This is also the case in studies of Asians and other groups, and has fed the controversy about whether these academics are the most suitable people to be conducting such investigations. This resurgent debate is based on the distinction between outsiders and insiders introduced by sociologist Robert K. Merton (1972) three decades ago to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of researchers either belonging or not belonging to the group being studied. Some see this growing interest in Latino migrant studiesnew concepts, research centers, magnetic pull on various disciplinesas a simple effect of their numeric importance. For others, it exemplifies the opening up of US academia to the popula-tions multicultural reality. The most suspicious see the appearance of Latino studies as a specific field as yet another expression of colonialist epistemological distinctions. According to social scientist Walter D. Mignolo, up until 1970 studies were divided by zones distributed according to East-West distinctions. From then on, however, the whole

planet was taken as a field of study according to a new North-South axis. This substantial shift in the colonial epistemological difference had serious consequences for Hispanics/ Latinos in academia and for Latino studies as an emerging field. One of the consequences of the geopolitical ompartmentalization of the world was the distribution of scientific work, so that, as Mignolo explains, sociology and economics concentrated on the First World. The Second World was mainly given over to the political sciences, while the Third World became primarily the domain of anthropology. Latin America was not only the Third World, but also a Spanish-speaking world at a time in which Spanish was no longer an academically hegemonic language. In accord with the tripartite division of the world by areas of study, Latin America was considered a territory that produced culture, but not science or academic culture (Mignolo, 2000, pp.10-11). And thus Latino studies were reduced to just another object of the academic curiosity of certain sciences. THE NUMBERS TELL THE STORY Tons of paper and oceans of ink have been used writing about Mexicans. There are some 20 million people of Mexican origin living in the United States. In fact, Mexicans were already within what is now US territory before the country conquered it. We Central Americans, in contrast, are only just beginning to appear in the research agendas. And when we do, we show up most notably in research on political refugees and youth gangs, despite more interesting themes such as the retreat of male domination over Latino women in a country with less machismo, or the participation of Latino women in trade organizations. The US census for 2000 recorded some 35 million people of Latin American origin (12.5% of the total population), of which nearly 1.69 million were from Central America (4.8% of the total Latinos in the United States). The Central Americans included 655,000 Salvadorans, 372,000 Guatemalans, 217,000 Hondurans and a little over 177,000 Nicaraguans (US Census Bureau, 2000 a). US Immigration Studies Center data from March 2002 indicates that in under two years the Central American population had grown nearly 28% to 2.16 million, which is 6.7% of all recorded US residents born abroad. Over a million of these Central Americans emigrated in the past 12 years, roughly since peace in Nicaragua heralded the end of the various wars in the region (Camarota, 2002). Because this gush in the Central American migration stream is relatively recent, not all of its consequences are yet visible. Of the approximately 31 million people living in the United States who were born abroad, 16 million (51.7%) are Latin Americans and over 10 million are Mexican or Central American, many of them illegal. According to Immigration and Naturalization Service data, some 70,000 Nicaraguans, 335,000 Salvadorans, 165,000 Guatemalans and 90,000

Hondurans were illegally residing in the United States in 1996 for a total of 660,000. They represented 13% of the 5 million people illegally in the United States in search of the American dream. HOW THEY ARE SEEN AND TALKED ABOUT I had a visa and came into the United States legally whenever I wanted, one Salvadoran living in Boston told me. I came to do business, because I have several trucks that I used for commerce in El Salvador. The situation started getting uglier and uglier, so on my last trip I decided to stay, leaving the trucks to my sons. Im here illegally, speak no English and work in a mechanics garage. This is no kind of life. Is this the American dream? No! This is the American waking nightmare! Nonetheless it is something he is prepared to endure to achieve the living standard he yearns for, and which is now only possible for him in the United States. Many theories, expressions and clichs have emerged to classify immigrants. On the positive side, they are presented as daring pioneers (particularly the women), the best resource a country can lose, their nations most ambitious individuals, people who dont settle for having been born on the wrong side of the line that divides passports into those that open doors and those that close borders. More poetically, they are described as people who, unable to change their country, decided to change countries. But Latino migrants often get the worst rap: they are variously deprecated as people who hitched their wagon to a nation that others had already built and raised to the rank of empire, improvised beneficiaries of the welfare state, usurpers of jobs typically reserved for blacks and refused by Asians due to their discretion and work ethic, criminals disguised as political refugees, ugly protuberances on the face of America, the generators of crisis on the Mexican border... All these versions have been disseminated and turned into clichs by US publications such as The Atlantic Monthly, US News and World Report, American Heritage, Newsweek, Time, The New Republic and National Review. The medias role in shaping the image of migrants was documented and analyzed by Leo. R. Chvez in Cubriendo la inmigracin: Imgenes populares y la poltica de la nacin. But Latinos continue heading north, unruffled by anything that is being, has been or might be said. PURGING OUR ORIGINAL SIN OF ANARCHY AND TYRANNY Why do they go to the United States? Some think they go to purge their countries original sin, whose effects have left us eating dust in the race for development, a marathon to which we came untrained, were slow out of the blocks, tripped up a lot and wrangled with other runners while the United States snatched all the medals. What is the original sin in Latin Americas case? How does one explain our backwardness compared to US development?

Nobel laureate in economics Douglass North suggests that the political culture of the British colonies, based on participation and a low-profile government leadership role in economic affairs, favored the practice of political consensus while the excessive discretional economic attributes of the authorities in the Spanish colonies must have acted as an incentive for competition and dissension (North, 2002, pp.9-10). According to North, the historic legacy of a more settled democracy in the United States than in Latin America led to a political culture of consensus that stimulated investment and business, allowing a US leadership based on democratic systems in which all citizens began to enjoy the same rights after the Civil War. Meanwhile, Latin America lagged behind, burdened by the creation of authoritarian regimes and political systems characterized by disorder and instability and fundamentally scarred by a lack of credibility. According to North, there are three types of political systems: order with a democratic system, order with an authoritarian system, and disorder. The Latin American countries vacillate between disorder and authoritarianism: between anarchy and tyranny, to use the more expressive nomenclature of Nicaraguas Jos Coronel Urtecho. THE US ORIGINAL SIN IS IMPERIALIST EXPANSION The problem with this approach is that it presents broad-brush histories of North and Latin America, describing them as isolated, unconnected processes, like two creatures that inhabit separate airtight compartments. Without trying to evade our responsibility, the thesis about displacement of the East-West axis by the North-South one and the emergence of the US hegemonic determination, whose most representative expression is the Doctrine of Manifest Destiny, must also be included to explain our position and our development level with respect to the United States. Sooner rather than later, the United States stopped talking so much about liberty and equality and put more emphasis on imperial expansion. In less than a century, somewhere between the war of independence (1776) and the Monroe Doctrine (1823), and later in the Spanish-American War to annex Cuba and the Philippines (1898), US political philosophy took a Copernican turn. Barely a decade before the civil war that abolished slavery, the United States had already swallowed over half of Mexico. Lincoln may have struggled heroically to free the slaves, but he was followed by voracious Presidents. Theodore Roosevelt, devotee of the virtues of the powerful races, proclaimed that in nine out of ten cases the only good Indian was a dead Indian and he wasnt so sure about the tenth one. Afterward came President McKinley, who claimed that God had commanded him to take the Philippine Islands. It was around that time13 years after his trip up the Ro San Juanthat Mark Twain suggested changing the US flag by making the bars black and replacing each of the stars with a skull and crossbones (Galeano, 1984, p.306).

Other voices in the United States had already spoken out against this unbounded expansionism. In his Civil Disobedience, writer Henry David Thoreau, viewed as a neer do well by his American contemporaries but venerated today, particularly by environmentalists, denounced the war that resulted in the annexation of California and Texas: We are witnesses to this Mexican war, the work of comparatively few individuals who are using the incumbent government as a personal instrument, because at the outset the people cannot have consented to this measure (). When oppression and theft are organized, when an entire country is unjustly trampled and conquered by a foreign army and subjected to martial law, I do not believe it premature for honest men to rebel and make revolution. What makes this duty more imperious is the fact that the country that has been trampled is not our own and that ours is the invading army. (Thoureau, 1975, pp.46, 50, 51) THE HARVEST OF EMPIRE: MASSIVE IMMIGRATION The United States quickly figured out how to turn both the tyranny and the anarchy of the Latin American states to its own benefit, making pacts with whichever caudillo came to power or pitting one elite group against another to reap easy fortunes from the chaos of fratricidal Latin American wars. Some US contribution could always be found behind the prolongation, exacerbation and even perpetuation of Latin Americas natural propensity to political disorder or authoritarianism. Franklin Delano Roosevelt did not doubt for a minute that Somoza was a son of a bitch, but as he explained to his Cabinet, hes our son of a bitch. Military imperialism paved the way for commercial imperialism. Our authoritarian institutions unquestionably played a distinguished role in Latin Americas underdevelopment, but the gringos who came as filibusters, traders, heads of big business, politicians or Marines reaped sizeable benefits. Now that our emigrants are fleeing the authori-tarianism of the South and colonizing the North, the powers that be in the United States dont recognize it as an historical boomerang. This is the thesis of Puerto Rican-US journalist Juan Gonzlez in Harvest of Empire: the Latin American immigrants being received with such ill will in the United States are an inevitable effect of the empires political investment in Latin America. In fact, Gonzlez sees the flow of Latin American migrants as directly connected to the growth of the US empire and responding to its needsbe it the political need to stabilize neighboring countries or the need to accept their refugees (Cubans, Dominicans, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans)as a way to buttress the broader economic objective of satisfying the demand for productive labor supplied only in part by Puerto Ricans and Mexicans (2001, p.XIV). A LEGENDARY HALO AND A HEROCS BEARING US geophagy determined the ports of entry for Latin American immigrants: California, Texas, New York and Florida house 60% of all Latinos who have settled in the United

States. Florida was annexed to the United States in 1820, a fate that befell California and Texas 35 years later. As Juan Gonzlez observed, Latin America, a region the United States once considered its back yard, playground and place to make quick fortunes, has now crashed the garden, kitchen and living room of the worlds most powerful nation (2001, p.XII). Latino migrants can now be found everywhere. Central Americans have preferred the big cities: Miami, New York and Los Angeles. But they have also come here to traditional Boston, with its colonial architecture and its pride in having the first of everything: the first port, first university, first high school, first museum, first philharmonic orchestra, first ripples of the independence struggle and even Pope John Paul IIs first Mass on US territory. Meeting with a group of Central American immigrants in Boston, I was effusively told about their relatives fascination when they return; the men are viewed as incredibly prosperous and the women as remarkably beautiful. This impression reaches beyond the money and gifts they bring back with them and the remittances most of them send home faithfully every month. A myth has grown up around migrants in Central America; a halo encircles them, conferring upon them a certain legendary mien and heros bearing, all of which springs from the far-off lands to which they owe their fortune. We dont know why they get so excited about everything to do with us. They touch our hair and say its softer now. They even say our skin glows. We dont know where such admiration comes from. Even the smell on our clothes; I dont know where it comes from, but here you arent aware of it and there it invades the whole house. Both the men and the women are very skeptical about what they have accomplished. Their relatives are unaware of the price of being a legend: the bills that have to be paid; the hours of intense work, never at a tropical pace; the cost of living; the never surmounted double day for women; the burden of being a third-rate citizen in the supposed land of opportunity; and the strategies one has to employ, like bringing over more family members to share the burden of maintaining those who stay at home and are sometimes entirely dependent on the remittances sent back to them. None of the migrants I spoke with laud their current situation. The United States turned out to be far from the imagined Shangri-La where the streets are paved with gold. WE ARE A PUSHY MULTITUDE PROPELLED BY THE DELIRIUM OF GREED What would these immigrants think of US writer Henry Millers views on the contrasts he encountered on his trip to Europe, documented in The Air-Conditioned Nightmare? Millers port of entry upon his return was precisely Boston: ...an immense, useless structure created by pre-human or sub-human monsters propelled by the delirium of greed.... From

the topographical point of view the country is magnificent and terrifying. Why terrifying? Because in no other part of the world is the divorce between man and nature so total. In no other part of the world have I found such a monotonous and inert life substance as here, in North America. Boredom reaches its pinnacle here. It is our custom to consider ourselves an emancipated people; we say were democratic, that we love liberty, that were free of prejudice and hatred.... In reality we are a pushy and greedy multitude whose passions are easily inflamed by demagogues, journalists, religious stooges, agitators and others of that ilk (Miller, 1968, p.17). Gringophobes and gringophiles there have been, and will continue to be by the millions. But the Latino, for the moment, cannot afford the luxury of being so opposed to the system for reasons of elementary survival and even mental health. They are in no position to engage in battles against the bastions of the system. Color imposes silence, color knows it must adapt. Central Americans have yet to distinguish themselves in US literature or in the media, although in a few years they will doubtless begin to express their particular views about the country that received them. DIFFERENCES OF OPINION ABOUT THE WONDERS OF THE UNITED STATES There are thousands of conspicuous viewpoints about the United States. Citizens, temporary migrants, those aspiring to residency and visitors alike have offered their opinions. One of the most delightful came from playwright Oscar Wilde, in his comedy A Woman of No Importance:
Lord Illingworth:-They say, Lady Hunstanton, that when good Americans die they go to Paris.Lady Hunstanton: -Indeed? And when bad Americans die, where do they go to?Lord Illingworth: -Oh, they go to America.-

It would be hard to find viewpoints more bursting with accolades than those described in America, by Jacques Maritain, in which the French philosopher never tires of enthusing about the inexhaustible US virtues, barely sullied by even insignificant vices. Received in the United States to escape the Nazi horror, even Maritain was careful to mention, however, that express laws existed in the United States during that period ordering that shelter be given to those who were persecuted only if they were notable citizens, distinguished men of science, members of the European elite. This is verified, as a kind of mea culpa, in the Museum of the Holocaust in Washington, where one can also find Bertolt Brechts self-reproach for having survived thanks to his fame, while many of his friends ended up in Nazi concentration camps. Psychologist Bruno Bettelheim (1983), who spent the war in a concentration camp, charged that many Jews could have been saved if the United States, fearful of receiving an avalanche of migrants, had not refused to take them in when Hitler was willing to trade them for ransoms offered by their Jewish-American relatives.

THE BEST HERE ARE THE WORST THERE It should come as no surprise that the United States wants the best. Any country would, and an Empire with much more reason. Do we offer that? The statistics of our national censuses demonstrate that Central Americas emigrants have higher than average schooling levels. Data from the most recent living standard survey by Nicaraguas National Institute of Statistics and Censuses shows that barely 6.7% of rural Nicaraguans over 25 years old have attended either secondary school or university, while 36.2% of Nicaraguan emigrants who left from that same rural sector had reached those education levels (INEC, 2001 b).* Once they get to the United States, however, they join the ranks of the least educated immigrants, with schooling levels well below the native labor force. According to the US census for 2000, barely 5.5% of Central American immigrants over the age of 25 have a university degree, a figure significantly below the 25.6% corresponding to all US-born residents of that age and an astounding contrast with Asian and European immigrants (45% and 33%, respectively). With 34% of Central American immigrants 25 years old or over not even having completed ninth grade, a category shared by only 12.7% of the Europeans, 10% of the Asians and 4.7% of all native-born residents, they are the least-educated regional group residing in the United States (Surez-Orozco, 2001, p.352). These statistics were confirmed by a Nicaraguan household survey indicating that 35% of urban and 57% of rural Nicaraguans over the age of 25 who emigrated had not made it to high school, while overall (migrant and non-migrant) figures for both geographic segments are 60% and 90%, respectively (INEC, 2001 b). This serves to further decrease the limited education level among Nicaraguans who stay at home. These are the two sad faces of the migratory process: our countries are losing their best prepared citizens, who then join the lowest-skilled segment of the US labor force. The best from here are the worst over there. THE 1.5 GENERATION KNOCKS ITSELF OUT Given all this, what might Central American immigrants dare hope for? Will their situation improve over time or will the only improvement be that they progress from being the most uneducated migrant group to being the least educated settled group?
* Calculations based on information from INEC. Asians constitute the best educated sector of immigrants, with educational levels far superior to those of native born Americans. They are disproportionally represented among professionals with PhDs. Most likely it is due to this large number of highly educated Asians that 32 % of the scientists who work in Californias Silicon Valley are immigrants. Calculations based on information from INEC.

Segregation has had a strong impact on educational performance, but the art of opening doors appears less related to being assimilated than to the migrants efforts to hang on to that adventurous spirit, the mystique of the outsider who has to earn respect in an adverse setting through talent and hard work. A correlation has been found between being a migrant and academic success among those who belong to what is increasingly termed the 1.5 generation; migrants children who were born outside of the United States but raised in it. The fraction is to contrast them with the second generationalso children of migrants but born and raised in the United Statewhose academic performance is notably inferior. The hypothesis is that the former know they need to go the extra mile if they are to adapt and carve out a place for themselves, and they also have more knowledge of the difficult circumstances they left behind. The second generation is probably finding that the system does not reward their efforts as much as expected, that the promised land isnt opening the same doors to them that it does to others and that they must always fight with a handicap. They see that TV offers what their pocketbook denies, so they take what they can get: a good time, baggy cholo pants, electronic appliances and the like, and they often join gangs.

CENTRAL AMERICANS: NEITHER BLACK NOR WHITE Segregation is a drag on even the best pioneering spirit. Everybody knows there are more African-Americans in jail than at university, and that while the bad ones are locked up, the good ones are on football or basketball teams. Spatial segregation has been permanently on US research agendas ever since the 19th century. First it was the Irish, then the Italians, and now it is the Latinos; African Americans have always been there. US writer Susan Sontag observed that when people of color or poor people move into middle-class neighborhoods, it is referred to as an invasion, a metaphor used to describe cancer or military action (1996, p.74). African-Americans are seen as welfare parasites, and very soon, too soon, Latinos began to share these disparaging stereotypes about US blacks. Perhaps trading in stereotypes is about assimilating, about making a pact with the socially plausible. Those who justifiably say that comparisons are always hateful and often unfair forget to say that they are also hard to avoid and help forge group and individual identity. We Central Americans are neither white nor black. Who are we closest to in our middle-ground pigmentary identity? Will we ally with those who are well established or with the minority, those who have always been marginalized? Some media are anticipating a new struggle, this time between black and brown.


COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE IS IN THE COLOR OF ONECS SKIN The problem always boils down to skin tone. This may be one of the reasons Salvadorans have conquered more space in US society than other Central American immigrants. According to March 2002 data from the Immigration Studies Center, the 869,000 Salvadorans are the sixth largest immigrant group in the United States, barely edged out by the Cubans, who have always enjoyed numerous advantages under the US laws that protect political exiles (Camarota, 2002). Without underplaying the importance of war and demographic growth in pushing Salvadorans out of their country, or of their traditional industriousness, which definitely opens doors for them, the fact that they are the whitest among the Central American immigrants puts them in a more favorable position for assimilation. It must also be recognized that the Salvadoran government has fought more than any other Central American government for the rights of its emigrants; infinitely more than the Nicaraguan government, which only talks to the North to lavish praise or beg for handouts. And on top of all that, the Salvadorans also have a comparative skin advantage. While 26% of Dominicans and 24% of Mexicans live in poverty in the United States, only 12% of the Salvadorans find themselves in the same situation, despite being at a disadvantage in many areas. For example, they have 30% less access to social welfare programs than the Dominicans, who are from an earlier migratory wave. Similarly, only 56% of Salvadorans receive public health care services, just edging out the Guatemalans (54%) (Camarota, 2002). The recognition they enjoy, then, is non-official. Historians studying immigration to the United States have begun to recognize that race has played a critical role in facilitating the adaptation of European immigrants and continues to do so. The study of whiteness, a field born in the nineties, has revealed that the integration into established US society of European immigrants and their descendants is partly determined by their positioning as whites, as opposed to blacks. The Irish claim to their status as Americans was based precisely on being the opposite of black. Asian immigrants struggled for acceptance at a distinct disadvantage at the end of the 19th century. That period, recently dusted off by historians, shows how the racial status of being white became one of the attributes needed to obtain US citizenship. Recent historical research has emphasized that racial barriers such as the 1882 law excluding Chinese triggered a new migratory filter: one based on nationalities of origin. A NEW CRIME: POSSESSION OF THE WRONG FACE The pre-existing suspicion of non-white immigrants skyrocketed after the attacks on the Pentagon and New Yorks Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, that horrendous event

that people in the United States now call simply 9-11. In its aftermath, airport security checks reached paranoid extremes in the United States, and there was no way to avoid our Central American airports chiming in with a servile tropical echo. The Salvadoran government, for example, used the occasion to do away with the bothersome airport union and saturate all passenger security check posts with military personnel. In the eight flights I took during my stay in the United States I was subjected to the special security check twice; 25% of the flights, which I learned was just about average. On each flight the security agents physically check 25% of the passengers, which means that they do a detailed search of 20 passengers and their carry-on for an 80-passenger plane, ipso facto clogging up all the countrys airports. The object of suspicion was my face, which leads me to believe that someone with Arab features would face a higher average of checks. Naturally, to dispel any suspicions of discrimination, they always check a white person alongside a non-white one. Susan Sontag observes that AIDS has increasingly affected the urban poor, particularly Blacks and Hispanics (1996, p.155). After the events of September 11 and the serial killings by the famous Washington sniperwho as luck would have it turned out to be not one but two Jamaicansterrorism has turned into a sickness affecting Latinos and Muslims. People in the United States tend to quickly forget, if they ever knew about, the massive introduction of AIDS into Honduras by US soldiers and its propagation in the brothels that sprang up around the banana plantations of the two transnational giants: Standard and United Fruit Company. They also forget the genocide in Hiroshima and the many psychopaths as blond as butter who have gunned down their fellow citizens in the United States to adjust their maladjusted personalities. REENACTMENTS: A CELEBRATION OF WHITENESS Many things are forgotten in this history, thanks to selective memory about what happened at home and abroad. Central Americans who want to establish themselves in the United States have to come to terms with these gaps. People in the United States have many resources for recalling and teaching the history they want to remember using few instruments and employing great creativity. Reenactments and museums are two fabulous forms. The idea of reenactments is to reproduce in order not to forget the hard conditions of the nations beginnings. I participated in one of those reenactments, a kind of historical representation in which the descendents of Scottish immigrants dressed up like their ancestors of over two centuries ago, while the descendents of English, French or Canadians did the same. The reenactment in which I took partdressed as a Scotsmanwas at Fort Ouiatenon, in the town of Lafayette, some 60 miles north of Indianapolis. It commemorated the building of the fort, as well as the successive battles, the armies that alternated possession of it and its final annihilation, all during the 18th century.

To the delight of around a hundred thousand spectators, there were three days of parades, military marches, canoe races and the firing of cannons and muskets in an atmosphere of camaraderie that united three thousand actors, many of them children. Old dances were performed and old songs from various countries were sung. The singers were often old, and were so authentically outfitted and so imbued with their role that they gave the impression that they had just stepped out of the past. All were obliged to observe very precise rules, a dynamic similar to what must have been established in the United States to better govern so many cultures, migrant streams and nationalities. They were only allowed to prepare the food the old-fashioned way and serve it in rustic metal plates at roughhewn wood tables. Any object of nylon, plastic, tin or with any taint of modernity was prohibited. But the perspective of the losers was completely missing, particularly those great losers, the real native Americans. Not those referred to by the current government censuswhites who came and settled centuries agobut the indigenous population. In this reenactment of history, in which each group of actors represented its ancestors, the indigenous population of that time was represented by white people with heavy bronze make-up. They were the only ethnic group not represented by their own descendents. I asked my hostessa very perspicacious woman who loves US history and is proud of her Scottish rootswhy there were no indigenous actors. She immediately responded: Because they would feel offended if they were invited to an act like this. But of course; an act like this celebrates and creates a sense of nation around whiteness. A RACE AGAINST TIME: WHO WILL WE BE IN 100 YEARS? Will we Central Americans be participating in similar reenactments in these lands in 100 years? Or will we be represented by blonds with makeup to imitate our natural tan? Will we have our own acts of commemoration or will we forget history? There are tendencies in both directions. There are Latino foundations and associations that work to keep Latino identity alive. The wall murals in San Francisco are one of the most outstanding efforts, in which Nicaragua and El Salvador are very much present. But at times, I think they are commendable initiatives running against the tide. One day, over a plate of exquisite, and of course very spicy, New Orleans cuisine, the Central American family that had invited myself and a friend to lunch asked me to explain some details of Nicaraguas history for the edification of their adolescent children, born and raised in the United States. At one point, when I mentioned Taft, Philander Knox and Commodore Vanderbilt, among other undesirable US personalities of pernicious influence on the avatars of Nicaraguas history, one of the daughters exclaimed, Look, mom, he knows so much about our politicians and business leaders. She had very rapidly taken on US history as her own reality. Are these the traps of assimilation? Its a sign that a very active and creative

economic and political relationship between the migrants and those they left behind in Central America is in a race against time. THE DESTRUCTIVE AIM OF US FOREIGN POLICY While I was in Boston toward the end of last year, a pureblood Bostonian friend took me to see the citys Museum of Fine Arts. There, among many other wonders, we found El Grecos unparalleled portrait of Friar Hortensio Flix Paravicino, painted in 1609. Surrounded by mummies and tombs that US archeologists had removed from Egypt out of love of science, I thought of what a great advantage it was for people in the United States to have such an array of masterpieces ranging from antiquity to modernity for their own cultural expansion and spiritual solace thanks to deals cut with unwary Eastern governments. The gigantic statues of Egyptian divinities sculpted in imperishable granite enraptured us. Even more fabulous is a royal pectoral dating from 1630 BC that contains miniscule incrustations of multicolor stones and crystals in a gold and silver setting in the form of an eagle. No less admirable is the Procession of the Offerers, finely carved in wood over four thousand years ago for the eleventh Egyptian dynasty. When we passed the section on Mesopotamian culture, overflowing with relics that are also over four thousand years old, including sandals and chairs of wood and goat horn, my friend observed, And to think that this is the civilization that we, a country barely 225 years old, are prepared to destroy. Days later, in the house of a US Army officer in Jackson, Mississippi, I went cold when I heard our host refer to Egypt, where he had served, as that piece of crap. The destructive aim of US foreign policy is simply terrifying. It is a mixture of ignorance and the desire to dominate. Not long before his death, US scientist and science popularizer Carl Sagan lamented the $264 billion that goes to his countrys army compared to the $17 billion earmarked for its entire package of civilian scientific and space programs. Sagan (2000, p.283) questioned why such an immense sum of money, if the Soviet Union has already been defeated, noting that Russias annual military budget is around $30 billion, Chinas is similar and the combined military budgets of Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Syria, Libya and Cuba total some $27 million. US military expenditure, which is over three times that of all these countries combined, represents 40% of world military spending. Today, all these figures have been further altered by the preventive wars George W. Bush is promoting. PAST IMPERFECT, PRESENT SIMPLIFIED AND FUTURE IMPOSSIBLE All the technology to show history in an interactive form and all the money to buy relics and finance costly excavations is worth virtually nothing if unaccompanied by serious interpretations that allow the lessons of ancient history to be applied to current history. What use is the whole fabulous Museum of the Holocaust to those who justify, applaud

or actively participate in new holocausts? What good is the Museum of American History, which glorifies the US war of independence, to those who do not want to understand the new anti-colonial struggles or the rights of immigrants? The cow quickly forgets it was once a calf, just as many in the United States forget an imperfect past that reduced and virtually annihilated the native population and embrace a present of Manichean simplification with racist overtones and an impossible future of white dominion exercised by a multicultural nation that does not know what it has within. The Central Americans are navigating that sea and trying to defend their rights. Perhaps they should try to hit the appropriate keys that activate the sometimes rich historic sensibility of many US citizens. POLITICAL REFLECTION BEFORE THE TOMBS OF SACCO AND VANZETTI While still in Boston, I met with a group of Latin Americans in the spacious parish dining hall of a Latino neighborhood. It was very near the cemetery, burial place of Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco, Italian immigrant unionists executed on August 22, 1927 for robbery and murders they did not commit. There were Central Americans, Colombians, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans and we talked about many things, but what stood out in nearly all was their pride in belonging to a powerful union. A janitors strike had just shaken Boston, making the front page of local newspapers as well as getting prominent coverage on the TV news. None of these immigrants had belonged to grassroots movements, political parties or unions in their countries of origin, so had no previous experience in such disputes. Back home you couldnt do it because they would immediately send the army out, they told me. Sacco and Vanzetti committed the double sin of being immigrants and early union agitators. Many changes had to occur in the United States for unions to achieve the power they later acquired and a political culture free of such repression. John Steinbecks novel, In Dubious Battle, tells of a strike by Mexican migrants in the California apple orchards, demonstrating the bosses intransigence and political manipulation. Now Central Americas immigrants can demand higher wages without being flogged, jailed or executed. And they can demand wage increases based not on Central American standards but on those of US citizens. That relatively favorable institutional context has allowed them to appropriate the technology of political participation, particularly the art of lobbying. They are learning what instruments to use, what doors to knock on and how to impact public opinion. Will we witness the transfer of technology in that area toward Latin America? Among the cultural remittances Central America receives, will we assimilate the ability to negotiate? Can some new organizational gene be introduced into our political DNA? Some protein that revitalizes political participation, seeking new forms that suppress or leave behind centralist caudillismo, political polarization and the resulting apathy?

MIGRANTS GO FROM SOUTH TO NORTH, AND MAQUILAS FROM NORTH TO SOUTH We are a long way from cloning these experiences, partly because the migrants dont know how far they need to travel to build that institutionality where the force of arguments replaces the billy club and not only money speaks. Although undocumented migrants end up dealing with very adverse circumstances and face an obstacle course in defending their rights, a long stretch of the institutional route has already been leveled in the United States: the very stretch we are just setting out on in Central America. Another problem is that Central Americas migrants will have to succeed in their own struggle before exporting organizational skills. The problems of falling wages due to the excess labor force and of the migration of US assembly plants to the lands and labor markets of the third world are yet to be resolved. Nearly half of all white people in the United States earn $35,000 or more per year, compared to only 23% of Latinos (US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistic Administration [DCESA], 2001, p. 5). The average annual salary of Central Americans with a full-time job does not quite hit $18,000. While the poor rush off to the United States in search of better wages, factories are stampeding to Latin America in search of cheap workers. The first race is illegal, moves through the desert, across the Ro Grande and runs smack up against the immigration barriers. The second has the approval of the Central American governments, is part of their development strategy and can move at the dizzying electronic speed of a bank transfer. It is big capitals counterattack, and will be a permanent threat. Although many Central American immigrants (23%) work in the service sector, more (28%) work as laborers (DCESA, 2000, p.41)many of them in the very plants that are migratingand thus face the threat of unemployment and falling wages. It is therefore unreasonable to expect all the struggles to be waged in the United States and that on top of sending remittances the migrants will also take responsibility for significantly affecting policies in their countries of origin. Although they are making and can make many contributions, their hands are still tied by a great many cords, among them their desire to assimilate successfully, their economic limitations and their obligations to the boss.

THE PALATE IS THE LAST THING TO GO Mexican painter and sculptor Francisco Toledo waged a furious battle to keep McDonalds from setting up one of its franchises in Oaxacas main plaza. A fight without quarter between tamales and hamburgers, Mexicos cultural heritage against the emblematic company of fast food and bad culinary taste. Toledo won the battle, but not the war. It is being played out in the United States, where tens of thousands of Latinos, mainly Central

Americans, work in McDonalds franchises. Need has the face of a heretic and twists the arm of those promoting their own culture. But it only twists it during the migrants schizophrenic workday. At home, as if hidden away in the catacombs, Central American migrants prepare their nacatamales, hunger for tortillas, thirst for chicha. Craving their own food, they would sell their soul for baho, pupusas and gallopinto. They celebrate Pursima (the Immaculate Conception) and any patron saint festival they can remember. They want what is traditionally theirs. How long will it continue to be theirs? The palate seems to be the last thing to go. The identity roots of food run inexplicably deep, but many other things will be left along the road. For its part, McDonalds, like the mortally ill but stubbornly surviving capitalist system itself, has an unlimited capacity to adapt. As Spanish writer Vicente Verd noted in a recent article, They always serve the Big Mac, but they also offer Nioise salad in France, Feta cheese in Greece, fried chicken in Singapore, curried chicken in the United Kingdom, and kosher food in Israel. Or in Norway they transcorporatize their unit of worship into a McLaks, based on salmon instead of beef. Or into a Maharaja Mac in India that uses lamb instead of beef, to respect the Hindus. Could it be that the nostalgia industry will soon be offering the migrants McTamales? For those who stay behind in Central America, McDonalds shows its cultural respect only by adapting its salaries accordingly, paying $4 a day rather than the $8 an hour it offers in the United States. It gets the same double advantage that the Nicaraguan upper class gets with its domestic employees, paying third world wages out of first world profits. WHICH WILL RUN DEEPEST, ETHNIC OR CLASS ALLIANCE? In 1831 Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States, and was impressed by the country that made everybody equal, enriching the poor and impoverishing the rich. Nearly a century and a half before the appearance of the New Institutional Economy and well before Douglass North attributed the progress of the United States to its democracy and egalitarianism, Tocqueville underscored the importance of institutions in the development of society. Today other viewpoints abound regarding the egalitarianism preached by the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These newer studies of US society have very suggestive titles: Created Unequal, American Apartheid, The New Slavery... Mergers churn out multimillionaires and professionals wave their PhDs to earn a place at the apex of the middle class and be able to frolic in the meritocracy. Latinos who participate in this festivity now humiliate semi-skilled Anglo-Saxons. Will there be an ethnic alliance or a class alliance? What carries the greatest weight: color, ethnic origin or class position? The Central Americans who go to the United States havent all arrived in the same conditions. Although the majority of Nicaraguans who

left during the eighties entered the United States with refugee status, the first to arrive were members of the Somocista elite, led by Hope Portocarrero de Somoza, wife of the last Somoza. While they settled in Miamis most luxurious area, the middle-class professionals who followed moved into neighborhoods corresponding to their position. Only in the final years of the revolution, when the crisis became very acute, did the huge wave of poor migrants appear and move into Little Havana, increasingly turning it into Little Managua. Out of pure political affinity, the Cubans in exile supported the early Nicaraguan arrivals and shared their connections with the Republicans. The two groups felt bonded by a common episode in both of their histories: their flight from communist regimes. The Cubans organized banquets with influential senators and pushed through massive naturalizations for their Nicaraguan allies. But the middle-class Nicaraguans had a peculiar way of helping their own undocumented and poorer compatriots. They offered them jobs as domestics and in other services at $100 a month, which while close to what a legislator made in Nicaragua during those Sandinista years was ridiculous by US standards. Class interests won out over ethnic solidarity without a fight. EVERYTHING REMAINS TO BE SEEN Many interests are at stake among Central American immigrants today that are causing variances in the identity mechanisms, including class, gender, race, ethnic identity, political affiliation and religious creed. The future of solidarity is being played out among these interests, which may or may not include mediations for ethnic solidarity and subsequent support for political, social and economic projects in the nations of origin. Just as easily, they could be chips in the every man for himself game. The role of the media, churches, unions and associations will be vital in defining which tendency prevails. It all remains to be seen.


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