On Positive and Negative Diasporas

Former Venezuela Presidential Chief of Staff Beatrice Rangel on how the exodus of Venezuelans and Cubans is playing an important economic and political role in their native countries as well as in their new home countries.

Israel, the lonely democracy in the Middle East and the cradle of innovation and scientific advancements, is the product of the most farsighted and brilliant diaspora the world has known.

Centuries of persecution of the Jewish people led its leadership to conclude that ending this situation would entail a need to excel in knowledge production and to get back the land that had been its home since the beginning of millennia as the Bible indicates.

Inspired by the miraculous feat accomplished by the Jewish people, many migrant groups have recently begun to organize with a view to impact the reality of their home country or their parents’ and grandparents’ home country.

Migrant populations seem to be characteristic of the beginning of the 21st century, as technological advances and drastic reductions in the cost of traveling have facilitated the exodus of people from their home countries to others that offer better conditions in terms of personal security, freedoms and economic progress.

It is estimated that just in 2017, 6 million people migrated from their home countries. There are now 215 million people living in a country other than the one they were born. In 50 years this figure will triple. Over 20% of the US population are first or second generation migrants.

Diasporas have thus become a national asset in these days of globalization.

Countries like India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Uganda have realized it and are tapping this hidden source of development wealth represented by their diasporas.

Wealth creating diasporas serve as vehicles for investment flows, country branding and exertion of soft power in countries that can positively influence the development path of their countries of origin.

Impact upon development in these nations led The Economist to publish an issue entitled: “The Magic of Diasporas: How Migrant Business Networks are Changing the World.”

Governments have also identified diasporas as a development tool and have, in many cases, come up with public policies that facilitate the workings of business networks, investments and soft branding by organizations sponsored by migrant populations.

Politically most migrant populations coming from emerging markets tend to play a stabilizing role in their home country whether it is fostering the strengthening of rule of law or transferring capital and knowledge.

Instances of negative interventions by diasporas have also been recorded in the cases of Bangladesh and Ireland, when nationalistic sentiment led Bangladeshis abroad to support the Tamil Liberation Movement, which turned into a ferocious terrorist organization. A similar outcome materialized in Ireland when the expatriate community of that nation supported the IRA.

In Latin America it remains to be seen which diaspora plays a significant development role. Haitians, Dominicans, Cubans and Venezuelans seem to be the most likely participants in this endeavor as they represent a significant critical mass in their home countries and in the case of the Venezuelans are well educated.

The first wave of Cuban migrants into the U.S. have become business, community and government leaders. Venezuelans are just settling in but have played a significant role in supporting civic society in its fight against the current totalitarian regime. Should the ongoing humanitarian crisis deepen, such tragedy could be the spring board for many talented Venezuelans to come to the rescue of their country of origin.

Published by LAHT.com on Tuesday February 20th, 2018

*The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author.*