Tag Archives: El Salvador

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

Mexican media still threatened by gangs

Washington Post reporter Dana Priest has an excellent piece on the threats Mexican journalists face everyday: Censor or die: The death of Mexican news in the age of drug cartels

For anyone who has paid attention to what is going on in Mexico, this is not news, but confirmation that the war against the cartels is not going so well in Mexico.

The Mexican media was just getting out from under the thumb of the oddly named Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)  that ran Mexico for most of its 100+ years. A breakdown in the control PRI had meant journalists could start actually being journalists instead of stenographers for the government.

Then the cartels started gaining strength — with the help of corrupt national and local officials.

Suddenly the threats to free and independent journalism was no longer the loss of a job, but death.

As Priest notes:

Submitting to cartel demands is the only way to survive, said Hildebrando “Brando” Deandar Ayala, 39, editor in chief of El Mañana, one of the oldest and largest newspapers in the region with a print circulation of 30,000. “You do it or you die, and nobody wants to die,” he said. “Auto censura — self-censorship — that’s our shield.”

Just some items from the past 10 years:

In Mexico, as in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the issue is not government censorship but death threats from criminal cartels. The inability of the governments to address the issue speaks volumes about the corruption and weak legal systems in these countries.

To be clear though, it does not mean the governments have a policy of media repression. Too many observers of Latin America see any attacks on journalists — or civic society activists — as being ordered by the local or national government. Unfortunately the threats are essentially from the “private sector” — the cartels. The law enforcement systems in these countries are so weak that the threats against journalists — and civic society activists — either are not investigated or such a weak case is built against the murderers that they go free.

This impunity cartels enjoy can only be stopped if the governments are provided enough support and help to fight back. That is why cutting support to programs that seek to build stronger legal systems is not the way to go. (But tell that to a handful of Congress critters and US-based activists.)

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Filed under Censorship, International News Coverage, Killings, Mexico

UPDATE: How about the Central American elections?

So far the US media seem to be covering the elections going on in Thailand — largely because of the violence taking place in that Asian country.

But closer to home there are two elections that can have a more dramatic and immediate impact.

El Salvador and Costa Rica are holding elections Sunday, Feb. 2. The results could mean a lot to U.S. security and economics.

Costa Rica

Reuters: Scandals, inequality loom large as Costa Rica votes for new leader

Costa Rica has been one of the most stable and successful countries in Central America. The democratic process is deeply ingrained in the Ticos.

Unfortunately, the country has not been able to avoid the problems other countries in the area are facing: corruption, drug trafficking and a weakened economy. And so the voters are faced with some serious issues and choices.

But what does that mean for the United States? (After all to the American media nothing is important unless it affects the USA.)

Exports from the United States in 2012 amounted to $7.2 billion dollars, most of that trade was in petroleum and electronics.

Imports were about $12 billion, mostly electronics and agriculture goods.

And, yep, that means there is about a $5 billion trade deficit with Costa Rica. Still, the best way to close that gap is to help make sure Costa Rica advances economically. If the Costa Ricans have more money, they can buy more goods and services from the USA as well as other countries and everyone benefits.

El Salvador

Reuters: Ex-rebel faces gang-fighting conservative in El Salvador vote

Unfortunately for El Salvador it got caught up the violence and civil wars of the 1980s. For some in the United States there was a red under every bed in Central America. And for others the U.S. policy was nothing but offering support for every two-bit dictator that would search out and destroy the reds.

A lot has changed since then. Democracy has taken hold. But, unfortunately, too many people on the left and right still live in the 1980s and are looking at the elections as just another phase of the Cold War, albeit 25 years later.

The violence that wracks El Salvador no is no longer communist-back rebels or right-wing death squads but rather plain old fashioned gangs and thugs. But, due to corruption and weak government institutions, the gang violence has gotten out of hand. Innocent bystanders are caught in the crossfire as gangs fight each other for domination of neighborhoods.

Journalists and human rights advocates are threatened by the gangs.

And the people are fed up with the violence.

At the same time the global economic downturn has hit the Salvadorans hard.

One candidate promises to end the violence. Another — the incumbent — promises to keep the social welfare programs he instituted in place. Both issues have a lot of appeal.

Going into the election, no one candidate has a majority in the polls. Chances are there will be a run off next month.

What does that mean to the United States?

To start with the most deadly gangs in the country are the MS 13 and Barrio 18, made up of Salvadorans deported from the United States. The gangs are multi-national enterprises — they operate in Honduras and Guatemala as well as the United States and Mexico. Besides running their own human trafficking, protection and extortion rackets, they cooperate with the Colombian drug operators and the Mexican cartels.

These gangs are a destabilizing the region through their violence and corruption. And — just to stress the point again — operate in the United States and help smuggle drugs and people into the USA.

U.S. exports to El Salvador come to about $3 billion. In that amount about $300 million each is earned in textiles, petroleum and chemicals.

Imports from El Salvador are $2.5 billion, mostly in apparel and electronics.

That means the U.S. carries a positive trade balance with El Salvador.

It does not take a lot of math or hard thinking to realize that if El Salvador can beat the problems of violence and develop economically, the people will buy more goods and services from the United States.

The question facing the people in El Salvador is what direction will they go: More spending on security or on social programs. From the rhetoric coming out of the country, there appears to be little room for both.

For American journalists, the results of these two elections should be of concern. If the power of the governments change hands, new policies that could affect U.S. security, drug policy and economic well-being might be put in place.

If the governments remain in the hands of the current ruling parties, then the issues of corruption, violence and economic issues will have to be dealt with by parties that have not been successful in addressing those issues. That is not to say that a renewal of power to a ruling party does not mean changes cannot happen. We are seeing dramatic actions being taken in Honduras to address corruption and violence even though the Nationalist Party was returned to the power of the presidency.

In just a few months, there will have been major elections in three of the five Central American countries. The changes — or lack there of — have an impact on the United States in trade and social stability.

It would be nice if just a little more attention was being paid to the region before the xenophobes go crazy over the influx of immigrants and before those who have not left the 1980s start their rants and raves to the press and U.S. Congress about either the rising red tide of Chavismo/Castro-ism or right-wing death squads.

And just covering the elections is not enough. It would be nice to show the American people why it is important to pay attention to Central America (or Asia or Africa or Europe). In journalism, that is called providing context.

And context is something that has been sorely missing from most international reports in most news organizations.

UPDATE Feb. 3, 9:14am Central America Time

The New York Times decided to cover the elections as the voting took place. (El Salvador and Costa Rica Hold Presidential Elections.)

It was done by one their correspondents — instead of lifting and AP or Reuters’ feed. And it even provided context on the issues the voters in El Salvador and Costa Rica were facing.

It was a very well-done piece. Anyone who cares about the issues of Latin America — especially democracy and security — would enjoy the piece and feel he/she was being properly informed.

All that was missing was why the rest of America should care.


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Filed under Central America, International News Coverage, Story Ideas, Trade

Miami NBC gets the local-global thing right

Congrats to NBC Miami. They see a world beyond their local beat.

The station ran a story today about how Brazil is now the No. 1 trading partner with Florida. (Brazilian Businesses Booming in South Florida) (And that doesn’t count all the Brazilian tourists that are flooding into Florida creating jobs in Florida.)

Here is another example of how a local news organization uses local information to build on an international story.

FYI: According to the U.S. International Trade Administration, while Brazil is the #1 international trader with Florida, Florida is the #2 exporter of U.S. goods and services to Brazil. (Texas is the #1 exporter.)

It is a pity that so few local news organizations have taken the time to use the occasion of Pres. Obama’s trip to South and Central America to look at how the politics and economies of that area directly affects their own local areas.

BTW, Besides being the #2 exporter from the United States to Brazil (value $7.2 billion), Florida is also the #2 U.S. exporter to Chile (value $2.8 billion) and ranks as #1 to El Salvador (value $2.4 billion). And it took me less than five minutes to get that information. Now think about how much those export sales add to the income of the state and how much the state budget would be hurt if those exports were cut or ended.


Filed under South America, Story Ideas, Trade

FOI: A global issue

Welcome El Salvador to the  ranks of governments that  have accepted the idea that its citizens have a right to know (most) of what the government knows.

El Salvador Joins the List of FOI Countries

The latest action by El Salvador also proves that no matter how parochial many may think the freedom of information movement is, it is really global in its reach. In fact, there is even an International Right to Know Day. (It’s Sept. 28, in case you did not know.)

The Carter Center is especially active in the global right to know/information movement.

Last year it held a major conference in Africa. (Report) The year before it sponsored a conference in Latin America. (Report) And it kicked off the regional sessions with a global conference in 2008.

The important point here is that while journalists and journalism groups are some of the most vocal in support and defense of freedom of/right to information laws, they are not the biggest users of those laws. The vast majority of FOI requests come from individuals, civic groups or private organizations.

A good example of how one person used the Virginia FOI laws is recorded in the Fairfax City Patch:

And it is clear that FOI laws are never as strong as we would like. But once the laws are on the books, it is up to the citizenry to use what is available and push for better laws. (This was the basic argument former SPJ president gave to journalists and civic groups in the Dominican Republic in 2005 on the first anniversary of that country’s FOI law.)

If nothing else, promotion and strengthening of FOI laws is a link that journalists and civil society activists share around the globe. Unfortunately, too few in the United States see that connection.

Corporations have globalized. It strikes me that the only way to keep track of what they are doing is to make sure that there are strong FOI laws around the globe as well. It further occurs to me that citizens who are used to having strong FOI laws should be reaching out to those in countries with no or weak FOI laws.

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Filed under Connections, Freedom of access