August 28, 2014
Costa Rica Set to Fine Nicaraguan Migrants Monthly for Overstaying Visas

While the English-language U.S. press has focused on Central American migrants journeying north, little is being reported about the migrant crisis happening in Costa Rica. Contrary to reports that Nicaragua is not experiencing much migration to the United States when compared to countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, one fact is being largely ignored: Costa Rica has long had an ugly history with Nicaraguan migrants, and starting September 1, the Costa Rican government is planning to fine Nicaraguans $100 for overstaying their visas.

Such news is causing confusion in both countries and raising tensions about a system that has been ignored by the vast majority of Americans. In addition, there are reports that Nicaraguan military officials allegedly charged migrants money for obtaining legal status in Costa Rica.

Costa-Rica-Nicaragua-Border

According to agencies who track data about the two countries, around 350,000 Nicaraguans live in Costa Rica, making up for approximately 8 percent of Costa Rica’s total population. Other estimates report that about 400,000 Nicaraguans migrate to Costa Rica each year. Of those estimated 400,000, about 278,000 have legal residency or permission to work in Costa Rica.

In fact, Costa Rica has a greater net migration rate (2.7 migrants per each 1,000 in population) than the United States’ net migration rate. (-6.8 migrants per each 1,000 in population).

As Sergio Ramírez, the former Vice President of Nicaragua, wrote last month:

Costa Rica is like the United States to Nicaraguans. Our very own “American dream” right there, right next door. We speak the same language, migrants are able to send home handsome remittances as they make four times what they would in Nicaragua, they have access to quality health and education for their children, and the border is more loosely guarded, with dozens of clandestine crossings. Periodic amnesties for illegal migrants are not uncommon in Costa Rica.

He also added:

Furthermore, it is a floating population that comes and goes because distances are so short. A man can migrate to Costa Rica looking for a temporary job harvesting coffee or oranges, he may leave his family behind and come back, or he could have his family brought over. The same goes for women who are employed as domestic help and who come from the poorest rural areas.

Naturally, massive migration to Costa Rica causes tensions between the two countries. There are chauvinist outbursts in Costa Rica, illegal migrants’ raids and deportations, but then everything goes back to normal. And suddenly, there are reasons for us to stand together amidst dissentions. A boy, who migrated with his parents, made it into the Costa Rican soccer team that went to the World Cup, scored one of the decisive goals, and was celebrated as a national hero on both sides of the border.

In order for us to understand why so few Nicaraguan children reach the U.S. border, we must look to Costa Rica. Their parents are not in Chicago, Newark or Los Angeles and have no reason to pay smugglers to bring their children to them. They are in Costa Rica or Nicaragua, waiting for the opportunity to cross the border, with or without their children.

Others have written that the child migrant crisis is indeed affecting Nicaragua as well, and that it is a pattern pointing southward instead of northward. In addition, a 2006 essay provided even more context and history:

Most Nicaraguan migrants don’t compete with Costa Ricans for jobs, since the labor markets are clearly segmented. Nicaraguans fill niches in the economy that Costa Ricans don’t want: largely seasonal agricultural activities, construction, domestic service, private security and, to a lesser extent, commerce.

How many are there? The mass media and certain politicians like to throw around the easy, round figure of a million Nicaraguan migrants in Costa Rica. The most commonly used figure is 800,000. These figures were heard less often for a while, after the census results were released, but unfortunately the new migration law has reactivated xenophobic attitudes among politicians and the media, who use the higher figures to justify harsher immigration regulations. Members of the academic community and other analysts who research immigration estimate that there are around 400-450,000 between January and May, the time of year when the greatest number of Nicaraguans come to Costa Rica.

Nonetheless, a story published today by Reuters confirmed what most people in Costa Rica and Nicaragua have known for years:

Nicaragua is the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, after Haiti, with more than two-thirds of its people living on $4 a day or less, according to the World Bank.

To be sure, poverty pushes many Nicaraguans to migrate to find better jobs, but the majority head south to wealthier Costa Rica to work in construction or picking coffee and fruit instead of heading north to the United States.

It is quicker, cheaper and safer to cross the border into Costa Rica and there are fewer well-established centers of Nicaraguans living in the United States, so it is tougher for new migrants to make a life there.

Such a “South-South” narrative rarely gets discussed in the U.S. media. We can only wonder why not.

By the way, Costa Rica’s decision to fine Nicaraguan migrants is in line with how the country fines tourists, although US tourists don’t need a visa for 90 days.



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August 28, 2014
Costa Rica Set to Fine Nicaraguan Migrants Monthly for Overstaying Visas

While the English-language U.S. press has focused Central American migrants journeying north, little is being reported about the migrant crisis happening in Costa Rica. Contrary to reports that Nicaragua is not experiencing much migration to the United States when compared to countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, one fact is being largely ignored: Costa Rica has long had an ugly…

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August 28, 2014
A POV from @omgitseddieg: ‘On Ferguson’ (VIDEO)

The latest episode from EddieG is out. This week: a spoken word piece called “On Ferguson.”



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August 28, 2014

A POV from @omgitseddieg: ‘On Ferguson’ (VIDEO)

The latest episode from EddieG is out. This week: a spoken word piece called “On Ferguson.”

August 27, 2014
The Television Academy Should Feel Ashamed & Apologize

While everyone is focusing on how Sofía Vergara is complicit during Monday’s Emmy sexist and racist fiasco, it’s about time we shift to address the real problem, a manipulative non-inclusive wealthy industry doling out abuse at the expense of a minority who cannot afford to compete on an equal platform. When so called “other” voices are drowned out abuses like these and worse are played out over national airwaves. They are unacceptable and should not be the norm.

During the show Television Academy chairman Bruce Rosenblum escorted Vergara, who portrayed the subservient exotic character, onto a rotating pedestal to be objectified as the audience focused on her body parts while he spoke in serious tone wearing an expensive over paid suit about how diverse the Academy is today.

How can this be considered satire when these are the only images presented to the world on a damaging consistent basis?  It is not satire, it is exploitation. Prejudiced jokes are not funny, they are harmful. The damaging effects of negative images has been well-documented through extensive research.

It was painfully awkward to see a woman oppressed by an industry on live national television. Victim of the system her only choices where to play along and be the buffoon, be seen and make some money because the industry doles out awards and throws millions to perpetuate negative stereotypes or simply refuse to perform. It is frustrating to watch this industry flaunt the abuse and infuriating to see the lack of empathy.

pedestal

Vergara tries to justify her participation with a convoluted statement about feminine empowerment. However, her actions were of powerlessness. The skit was actually very sad. Very sad that in 2014 the show, the Academy and its producers do nothing to address the problems of inequality in the media industry. On the very contrary, the entire skit is in fact a demonstration of the abuse of power from a non inclusive system. It is the abusers lack of imagination and lack of empathy to continue to perpetuate negative stereotypes in this day and age when we all know better. All humans deserve dignity and respect.  It is because we know better we must find ourselves worthy and demand better.

Situations like these are harmful because it promotes tolerance of prejudice by reinforcing negative stereotypes and prejudice toward the targeted person or group.  It is an attempt to maintain a non-prejudiced appearance and also to deny prejudice to themselves.

By reinforcing negative stereotypes and prejudice at the individual level, disparaging humor maintains cultural or societal prejudice as a means of social control allowing members of the dominant group in society to maintain their privileged position. This perpetuates power imbalances.

Why isn’t the  the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), and the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (IATAS) or Bruce Rosenblum or anyone in positions of power being held accountable? Who will be the first to apologize for being non-inclusive, insensitive and the victimizer?

We must continue to hold them accountable and demand better from an industry made up of media conglomerates. This is what happens in an industry with no diversity.

The only way the media industry will change is to diversify their hiring at all levels from writers to producers to talent. Equal employment in positions of influence and power must become a requirement today for an industry with the power to control everything we see and hear in the media.

In this victim blaming society, we live in we must continue to demand answers of the gate keepers.

Why aren’t’ we seeing women of color receiving awards for positive portrayals?

Why are the majority of roles available to women of color to play maids or prisoners?  Think about the conglomerates responsible for labeling this as entertainment.

We may not get that apologym but we must demand change now by putting financial pressure on these media conglomerates.

By doing nothing you are condoning it. Your actions have impact. What YOU can do:

  • Demand stations increase positive portrayals of Latinos in media.
  • Demand private media industries produce and distribute programming to counter messages of hatred and prejudice, as well as to educate their audiences about the destructive impact of intolerance.
  • Hold stations accountable for negative stereotypes by complaining to the stations and more importantly their sponsors.
  • Demand responsibility of the advertisers who in essence are supporting and perpetuating this lack of diversity.
  • Support stations and programming providing alternate portrayals of women and minorities.
  • Support alternative media outlets like this one.
  • Our power is in uniting and supporting Latino writers, producers and directors.
  • Latin@s have the ability to tell our authentic stories. Become a content creator and distributor.

***

lettyBella Vida Letty is a regular contributor to LatinoRebels.com and one of the Original Rebeldes, having been with the group since the very beginning. In 2012 she was named one of the Most Powerful Latinas in Social Media by VOXXI. You can follow her on Twitter (@bellavidaletty) or read more about her on her blog, Bella Vida by Letty.



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