Tag Archives: Cuba

Migrants: Where to and where from

If you ever wondered why there is a better selection of tortillas in your local store or why getting good garam masala is suddenly much easier, the Pew Research Group has a quick way to look at immigration and emigration.

The Pew Group has a GREAT interactive graphic to look at immigrant and emigrant movements during the past 25 years at Origins and Destinations of the World’s Migrants, from 1990-2015

Along with an interactive map, the Pew Group added a table so you can see with real numbers migration movement.

I’ll let the Pew Group explain what its wonderful graphic depicts:

The figures in this interactive feature refer to the total number (or cumulative “stocks”) of migrants living around the world as of 1990, 2000, 2010 or 2015 rather than to the annual rate of migration (or current “flows”) in a given year. Since migrants have both an origin and a destination, international migrants can be viewed from two directions – as an emigrant (leaving an origin country) or as an immigrant (entering a destination country).

According to the United Nations Population Division, an international migrant is someone who has been living for one year or longer in a country other than the one in which he or she was born. This means that many foreign workers and international students are counted as migrants. Additionally, the UN considers refugees and, in some cases, their descendants (such as Palestinians born in refugee camps outside of the Palestinian territories) to be international migrants. For the purposes of this interactive feature, estimates of the number of unauthorized immigrants living in various countries also are included in the total counts. On the other hand, tourists, foreign-aid workers, temporary workers employed abroad for less than a year and overseas military personnel typically are not counted as migrants.

And for those wondering, the total number of migrants living in the United States in 2015 came from:

  1. Mexico – 12 million
  2. China – 2.1 million
  3. India – 1.9 million
  4. Philippines – 1.7 million
  5. Puerto Rico – 1.7 million
  6. Viet Nam – 1.3 million
  7. El Salvador – 1.2 million
  8. Cuba – 1.1 million
  9. South Korea – 1.1 million
  10. Dominican Republic – 940,000
  11. Guatemala – 880,000

Remember, this is the TOTAL number of people from these countries living in the United States, NOT the number arriving in 2015. And I would personally put the migration from Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland as internal migration rather than international. (That is why I have a Top 11, rather than Top 10). Seems the United Nations has its own way of looking at these things.

And in case you are wondering, in 2015 there were 180,000 people from Iraqi living in the United States and 70,000 from Syria, both up from 40,000 each in 1990.

Local reporters can follow-up on this information for a local angle by using material from the U.S. Census Bureau.

For example, I know from the American FactFinder, there are a lot of Ethiopian restaurants in Fairfax County, Virginia (population 1.1 million) because Ethiopian immigrants are the largest African group in Fairfax – 6,000 out of 31,000 African native-born residents.

You can get good papusas because Salvadorans make up the largest single group of Latin American residents — 32,000 out of 102,000 from Latin America.

We all know Annandale, Va., is known as Little Seoul. Well, the Census numbers bear that out, of the 170,000 people born in Asia in Fairfax County, 30,000 are from Korea. But what should be evident to anyone paying attention, the Indian and Vietnamese presence is also big. Fairfax has 29,000 people who were born in Indian and 23,000 born in Vietnam.

Not to leave out Europe, but let’s face it, the numbers are weak compared to the rest of the world. Fairfax has 25,000 people born in Europe. The single largest group are the Germans with 3,600.

Bottom line, if you are looking for a foreign story, start in your own neighborhood.

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Filed under Connections, Immigration, Story Ideas

More Proof Censorship Fails

We all know the Internet is Cuba is virtually non-existent. (Unless you go to one of the places set up by the US Interest Section or an international hotel.) Well, it does exist but it is so slow you will die of old age before you can download one episode of Game of Thrones.

Face it, governments such as those in Cuba do not like the free and unfettered nature of the Internet. The leaders of Cuba, China, Iran, etc are all afraid of what will happen to their nice cushy jobs if the people found out what is really going on in the world.

No matter how hard governments try to restrict their people from getting information, there are gaps in the security nets. The Chinese have learned how to use their mobile phones and virtual networks to get past the Great Firewall of China. Iranians used Twitter and SMS to communicate during the uprisings that called for free and fair elections.

And now a new twist has shown up in Cuba – thumb drives.

The Only Internet Most Cubans Know Fits in a Pocket and Moves by Bus

It’s called El Packete, and it arrives weekly in the form of thumb drives loaded with enormous digital files. Those drives make their way across the island from hand to hand, by bus, and by 1957 Chevy, their contents copied and the drive handed on.

People want entertainment and they want uncensored news. And they will get it any way possible.

Even by 1957 Chevy.

And yes, there are a few people who know how to get messages out: Yaoni Sanchez (@yoanisanchez) is probably the most famous of the Cuban bloggers — at least to the rest of the world.

Here is the movie OFFLINE mentioned in the article. It is Cubans talking about the Internet (or lack of it). The movie was smuggled out in a thumb drive.

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Filed under Censorship, Cuba, Internet Freedom

Free speech advocate returns to Cuba after world tour

Blogger, free speech advocate and all-around interesting person Yoani Sanchez returned to Cuba after a three-month world tour.

She had invitations from numerous free expression/press freedom organizations around the world. She also was given a number of awards for her advocacy. But the Cuban government kept denying her a passport and an exit visa. (And please note, that Cuba — like other dictatorships — required its people to get a visa to leave the country. The U.S. and other democracies only require visas for people to enter their countries.)Sanchez runs a blog — Generation Y — that has looked at the problems in Cuba and the repressive measures taken by that government to restrict freedom of expression.

 After the Cuban government changed its rules about issuing exit visas, Sanchez applied for one. The Castro government got put in the  uncomfortable position of either giving her a passport and granting the exit visa or rejecting her application. In the latter situation, the Cuban government would have shown it did not mean what it was saying and, therefore, could not be trusted on other issues. So, the issued Sanchez a passport and allowed her to leave the country.

Sanchez traveled throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia. At many of her appearances, pro-Castro people (some at the urging of the local Cuban embassy or consulate) demonstrated and disrupted her appearances.

Some highlights from previous Generation Y postings:

  • Whose Brain Is It? According to Legislative Decree 302 which also regulates the foreign travel of professionals, my own brain — like those of the rest of university graduates — does not belong to me. The folds and grooves of this organ are the property — according to the new law — of an educational system that boasts of being free but later charges us through ownership over our intellect. The authorities who regulate the possibility of leaving this Island believe that a qualified citizen is a simple conglomeration of brain matter “formed” by the State. But claiming the rights to use a human mind is like trying to put gates on the sea… shackles on every neuron.
  • The Ballot Box, The Stretcher This was the cubicle where I voted this morning to elect a delegate to the Municipal Assembly of People’s Power. Located inside a doctor’s office that was turned into a polling place this Sunday for the residents of the area. “Prescient” I thought of nothing but being alone with my ballot next to the large sink where they wash hospital implements. “Prescient” because my country is in a “coma” of indifference and apathy, and is going to need a profound revival – almost a defibrillation – for citizens to have real decision making power. Thirty-six years since its creation the current electoral system has not convinced us, not even once, that it represents the people against the power, rather we have become accustomed to the exact opposite.
  • Travel and Immigration Reform: Happy or Satisfied After five years of demanding my right to travel outside the country, today I woke up to the news of travel and immigration reform. My first impression was to shout “Hurrah!” mid-morning, but as the day advanced I considered the shortcomings of the new law. Finally the objectionable Permit to Leave has been eradicated, as well as the annoying Letter of Invitation that we needed to leave our own country. However, now in the issuance and validation of passports they will define those who can cross the national frontiers and those who cannot. Although the costs of the paperwork will be less and I imagine the time required shortened, this is not the new travel and immigration law we were waiting for. Too limited, too narrow. But at least it has put in writing a legality as a starting point from which we can now demand, protest, denounce.

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Filed under Censorship, Cuba, International News Coverage, Press Freedom

Freedom House: Yoani Sanchez World Tour Review

There is so much to write about Yoani Sanchez’ global tour that it is just better to click on the Freedom House summary   rather than have me copy a bunch of excerpts.

Through Digital Media, Activist Yoani Sánchez Redefines the Borders of Cuban Civil Society

March 21 marked the end of the New York leg of Cuban blogger and activist Yoani Sánchez’s highly publicized international tour. Since beginning the 80-day, 12-country whirlwind of speaking engagements in February, Sánchez, whose blog Generación Y is now translated into nearly 20 languages, has been met with equal measures of protest and warmth in Brazil, Mexico, Europe, and the United States. Arguably the most influential blogger writing within Cuba, Sánchez was denied an exit visa 21 times over the last five years, but she finally received permission to leave the island last month under a broader government initiative to loosen travel restrictions.

While Sánchez’s success in securing a passport after years of formal requests is significant, it would be a mistake to view the shift in exit requirements—or the recent activation of a highly anticipated fiber-optic cable (ALBA-1) to enhance the island’s internet connectivity—as evidence of a sea change in the regime’s attitude toward civil liberties such as freedom of movement and access to information.

Rest of story here.

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Filed under Cuba, Freedom of access, International News Coverage

Cuban diplomats try to spike Sanchez UN visit

Cuban blogger and dissident Yoani Sanchez was the guest of the United Nations Correspondents Association this week.

The visit was part of Sanchez’s world tour now that exit visas are no longer required to travel outside the country.

But just because the exit visa law was changed does not mean the Cuban government has changed its views about dissidents.

In just about every country Sanchez visited, pro-Cuban forces showed up calling her a tool or mercenary of the United States. In Brazil, she was not able to view a film about her and other dissidents because of the demonstrations. At least Yoani saw the demonstrations for what they were: examples of people exercising their democratic rights to demonstrate for or against a particular point of view. Of course, the irony of the situation was lost on the pro-Cuba demonstrators. They would never have been able to mount similar demonstrations against a Cuban policy in Cuba. 

Cuban diplomats around the world were always suspected of being behind demonstrations. (The themes were universal around the world and the props were all the same. Too much uniformity for “spontaneous” demonstrations of “outrage” against Sanchez.) Finally, in New York, the Cuban government came out from behind the curtain.

The UNCA sponsored a press conference for Sanchez in the United Nations building, something that is pretty common.

Cuban Ambassador Rodolfo Reyes sent a letter to the U.N. Secretary General complaining the news conference would be “an anti-Cuban action” and a “grave attack” on the spirit of the United Nations. (He did not mention how dictatorships, such as Cuba’s, are also an attack on the spirit of the United Nations.) The ambassador continued that the U.N. should “not allow that the organization’s spaces to be tarnished and their use manipulated by spurious interests.”

Havana diplomats at UN try to block Cuban blogger’s news conference

Sanchez responded simply that it was time for the United Nations to “come out of its lethargy and recognize that the Cuban government is a dictatorship.”

“If this meeting was being held in the bottom of an elevator shaft, we would have more freedom than in Cuba,” she added. “I am proud that my first time in this very significant U.N. building is with my journalism colleagues.”

It is a pity that the Sanchez world tour — hell, even the U.S portion — is getting so little coverage by U.S. media. The exceptions are The Miami Herald (duh!) and Fox News Latino (double duh!). There are the occasional wire stories — as in McClatchy story linked above — but other than that, the presence of one of the most powerful and rational voices against the Cuban dictatorship is moving through Washington and New York with little attention by the mainstream press.

Why is her visit important?

To begin with Sanchez could only leave once Cuba repealed the exit visa requirement. That requirement alone should tell people more about what Cuba was and is than anything else. Only dictatorships require exit visas of its people. The fact that the Cuban government eliminated the exit requirement is a story about changes taking place in that country.

While the exit visa requirement removal is a big deal, the increased repression of freedom of expression activists in Cuba is also news. More people can leave (if they can get a passport, another problem), but only if they are not in jail or under indictment for “activities against the state.”

Freedom of expression is still stifled:

  • Committee to Protect Journalists: Though Cuba projected an image of a nation opening up economically and politically, it took no substantive steps to promote freedom of expression.
  • Freedom House: Cuba has the most restrictive laws on free speech and press freedom in the Americas. The constitution prohibits private ownership of media outlets and allows free speech and journalism only if they “conform to the aims of a socialist society.”
  • Human Rights Watch: Cuba remains the only country in Latin America that represses virtually all forms of political dissent.
  • Amnesty International: The Cuban authorities continued to stifle freedom of expression, association and assembly, in spite of the much publicized releases of prominent dissidents. Hundreds of pro-democracy activists and dissidents suffered harassment, intimidation and arbitrary arrest.

What does this mean to the average person in the United States?

For too many people in the U.S. population (and in Congress) the only Latin American countries worth noting are Cuba and Mexico, and Mexico often comes in as a second thought.

Irrational and emotional arguments are a dime a dozen when dealing with Cuba. Finally, there is a rational voice from Cuba that is highly critical of the Cuban government allowed to travel and she gets little or no coverage — again, with the exception of the Miami Herald.

The Herald sees the immediate connection between the Sanchez tour and its audience. But where are the stories from the New Jersey/New York papers? The second largest Cuban population in the United States is in New Jersey.

Apologists for Cuba (and Venezuela and Ecuador) will not want to hear what Sanchez has to say, nor will they agree with it. Likewise, the rabid right-wing anti-Castro crowd will have difficulties with some of what Sanchez is saying — other than her unwavering belief in freedom of expression and democracy. Too many of the older anti-Castro group are hung up on returning property taken in the 1959 revolution. The issues are different now and many younger Cuban Americans know that. The anti-Castro lobby in Congress has not yet seemed to catch up.

It would be nice to see some stories of Cuban immigrants in the United States about how they got into the country, why the came and what they see as their future and the future of Cuba. I have talked with younger Cuban immigrants. They came to the States for the same reason most immigrants come: freedom and a better life. They are not from the elite families of the old dictatorship looking to return to power. They are immigrants, pure and simple.

Yes, they have opinions about the changes that should be made in Cuba — after all they still have family there. But if reporters took a few minutes to think about it, the stories of the 21st century immigrants will be different from those of the mid-20th century.

And once their stories are heard, then more people will stop thinking about Cuba and relations with Cuba with a Cold War mentality. They might even start looking at Cuba the same way the look at China, another brutal dictatorship that is famous for repression of freedom of speech and press, but with whom the U.S. is more than happy to deal with on the international scene.

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Filed under Censorship, Connections, Cuba, International News Coverage, Press Freedom, South America