Cuban Expectations in a New Era

20150413 PG1 CubaExpectations
Enrique de la Osa/Reuters

Soon after President Obama announced a sweeping overhaul of American policy toward Cuba in December, it became clear that change would unfold slowly. Untangling the web of sanctions the United States imposes on Cuba will take years because many are codified into law. The Cuban government, while publicly welcoming a rapprochement, seems intent on moving cautiously at a pivotal moment when its historically tight grip on Cuban society will inevitably be tested.

Mr. Obama, President Raúl Castro of Cuba and 33 other heads of state in the hemisphere gathered at the Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama, last week to take stock of the challenges and opportunities of the thaw in American-Cuban relations. The policy remains a work in progress, but it has already reset Cubans’ expectations about their future and their nation’s role in a global economy.

Whether, and how quickly, their aspirations for greater prosperity and for better communications within Cuba and the rest of the world are met will depend largely on their own government. One change is already clear: the Obama administration’s gamble on engaging with Cuba has made it increasingly hard for its leaders to blame their economic problems and isolation on the United States.

While the American and Cuban governments have yet to formally re-establish full diplomatic relations, some early concrete steps are promising. Obama administration officials and business executives have met in recent weeks with Cuban officials to explore how American companies can help upgrade the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure and provide cheaper and more available Internet service.

Executives from Google, whose platforms and services are widely desired in Cuba, visited the island in mid-March to make headway in the company’s goal of establishing its presence there.

Meanwhile, Airbnb, the company based in San Francisco that allows people to list their homes online for short-term rentals, announced last week that it had broken into the Cuban market, unveiling 1,000 listings there. That debut in Cuba could boost the small, but growing private sector in a nation where people have only recently been allowed to earn a living outside state employment.

Many Cuban-Americans expressed skepticism about Mr. Obama’s policy when it was announced. But a poll conducted last month by Bendixen & Amandi International found that 51 percent of Cuban-Americans agreed with the decision to start normalizing relations with Cuba, an increase from 44 percent in a survey in December.

Trump Crafting Plan to Slash Legal Immigration


Senior aide Stephen Miller has been working with conservative senators to make good on another Trump’s campaign promise.

By Eliana Johnson and Josh Dawsey, Politico

Donald Trump and his aides are quietly working with two conservative senators to dramatically scale back legal immigration — a move that would mark a fulfillment of one of the president’s biggest campaign promises.

Trump plans to get behind a bill being introduced later this summer by GOP Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia that, if signed into law, would, by 2027, slash in half the number of legal immigrants entering the country each year, according to four people familiar with the conversations. Currently, about 1 million legal immigrants enter the country annually; that number would fall to 500,000 over the next decade.

The senators have been working closely with Stephen Miller, a senior White House official known for his hawkish stance on immigration. The issue is also a central priority for Steve Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, who has several promises to limit immigration scribbled on the walls of his office.

The forthcoming bill is a revised and expanded version of legislation the two senators unveiled in February, known as the RAISE Act, which they discussed with Trump at the White House in March, and which the president praised at the time.

Though lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have at least paid lip service to the need to crack down on illegal immigration, reducing legal immigration is more controversial, even among Republicans.

It’s unclear how the White House could pull off such contentious legislation, given Congress is already bogged down in its attempt to repeal Obamacare and has not yet seriously started on tax reform and an infrastructure package — two other major GOP priorities. Congress must also pass legislation by this fall to avoid a government shutdown and to raise the debt ceiling.

“Sen. Cotton knows that being more deliberate about who we let into our country will raise working-class wages, which is why an overwhelming majority of Americans support it. He and Sen. Perdue are working with President Trump to fix our immigration system so that instead of undercutting American workers, it will support them and their livelihoods,” said Caroline Rabbitt, a Cotton spokeswoman.

The reintroduction of the bill is likely to mark the beginning of an important battle within the GOP between immigration hawks, now led by Cotton, who will have the backing of the White House, and dovish lawmakers such as Arizona’s John McCain and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham.

Lawmakers like Cotton, who has inherited the hard-line mantle long held by Miller’s former boss, Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general, argue that low-skilled immigrants decrease job opportunity and suppress wages for native-born workers — particularly those on the lower-end of the income scale. Graham and his allies say that the overall economy benefits from the ready availability of cheaper labor.

The last time Republicans seriously attempted to curb legal immigration was over two decades ago, in 1996, when a Republican Congress led by Newt Gingrich pressured President Bill Clinton to include a provision that slashed legal immigration in a broader immigration reform package. It was ultimately dropped from the bill, though, after Clinton faced opposition from some of the country’s top business leaders.

The Cotton-Perdue legislation would also mark a broader shift away from the current immigration system, which favors those with family currently in the U.S., toward a merit-based approach. It would, for example, increase the number of green cards — which allow for permanent residency in the U.S. — that are granted on the basis of merit to foreigners in a series of categories including outstanding professors and researchers, those holding advanced degrees, and those with extraordinary ability in a particular field.

Those admitted to the U.S. on the basis of merit have accounted for less than 10 percent of all legal immigrants over the past 15 years, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute and the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration Yearbook, and Trump pledged as a presidential candidate to shift the U.S. to a merit-based immigration system.

Miller is also working with Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to put new limits on sanctuary cities and has convened meetings at the White House on limiting refugees.

A senior White House official described the moves as part of a broader reorganization of the immigration system. The official said the White House particularly wanted to target welfare programs and limit citizenship and migration to those who pay taxes and earn higher wages.

“In order to be eligible for citizenship, you’ll have to demonstrate you are self-sufficient and you don’t receive welfare,” the senior administration official said.

“You’re going to reduce low-skilled immigration substantially, which will protect American workers and recent immigrants themselves,” this person said.

The move to curtail legal immigration would not only mark the partial fulfillment of one of the president’s most controversial campaign promises, but — with the future of the Obamacare repeal bill in doubt — it would provide a badly needed political victory to a White House that has been unable to escape accusations of collusion with Russia during the presidential campaign.

A second White House official said the push is real, “but it’s a difficult one in the current Congress, and we know that.”

Trump praised the virtues of the merit-based models of Canada and Australia in his remarks to a joint session of Congress in late February. “Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, we will have so many more benefits,” he said. “It will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families — including immigrant families — enter the middle class.”

Immigration hawks praised the White House for following through on a broad range of immigration-related promises, from loosening the constraints on border-patrol agents to shining a spotlight on the victims of crime committed by illegal immigrants.

At the same time, they remain harshly critical that the president has yet to act on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the Obama-era measure that granted legal status to those brought into the U.S. illegally as children, who are known as Dreamers.

“What I find really shocking is not just that they didn’t discontinue DACA … but that they are continuing to issue new DACA work permits to those who didn’t have them before,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “To me, that’s the biggest failure on immigration.”

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Do The Political Views of Millennials Make Sense?


The Atlantic wrote a timely piece about how the political views held by Millennials don’t make any sense. The article goes on to explain that according to a recent poll conducted by the Reason Foundation, the political views held by young adults, 18 to 29 years of age, are contradictory and do not make sense.

For those of us immersed in politics and in the hope of a better future, this finding is scary – especially when you consider that Millennials (given the population size) could very likely determine who our next president will be.

In March, the Pew Institute conducted a similar survey showing that Millennial views and attitudes are an array of paradoxes. Here are some examples:

  • While Millennials are the most technologically connected, they don’t trust people.
  • Millennials hate the political parties but have the highest opinion of Congress.
  • Millennials are the most likely to be single parents and the least likely to approve of single parenthood.
  • Millennials voted overwhelmingly for Obama, want universal health care, and are fine with a bigger government … but they oppose Obamacare.
  • 58% of Millennials want to cut taxes overall and 66% want to raise taxes on the wealthy.
  • 66% of Millennials say: “when something is funded by the government, it is usually inefficient and wasteful, however, 2/3 of young adults think the government should guarantee food, shelter, and a living wage.”
  • Millennials don’t know what socialism is, but they think it sounds nice. 49% of young adults think socialism is preferable to capitalism, but only 16% of Millennials could accurately define socialism in the survey.

With the 2016 presidential election less than a year away, it’s important for candidates to understand what’s really important to Millennial voters, and on the flip side, it’s imperative that the voters become educated before casting their vote. We can’t vote based on gender or race – we need to evaluate the whole package.  Our future depends on it!

Stay up to date with latest in millennial marketing and follow Dieste Inc., a multicultural advertising agency located in Dallas, Texas. Subscribe to Provoke Weekly to learn about the trends in the multicultural market.

America’s Oldest Spanish-Language Newspaper Struggles For Survival


New York City’s El Diario/La Prensa is the country’s oldest Spanish-language daily newspaper. It faces an uncertain future.

The country’s oldest Spanish-language daily newspaper, El Diario/La Prensa, began 2016 facing an uncertain future, as staff cuts and tensions between the union, the NewsGuild of New York, and the paper’s owners compound an already difficult transition to the web.

The paper’s steady decline has continued in the four years since Argentina’s La Nación, a leading conservative daily, bought El Diario’s parent company ImpreMedia, promising to pump new investment into the struggling institution and usher it into the digital age.

But despite a multimillion-dollar cash injection, current and former employees describe a pessimistic atmosphere presided over by foreign managers unfamiliar with New York, who have redirected their coverage toward national news and have cut roughly three-quarters of the paper’s editorial staff since taking over. The company planned to announce another round of newsroom layoffs Friday.

The former CEO of the paper, Francisco Seghezzo, told staff at a meeting last month that the print edition would likely cease to run, according to Oscar Hernandez, an employee in the paper’s advertising unit who belongs to the staff’s union.

“You’re killing the very substance of information that’s been such a part of the community for so many years,” Hernandez told The Huffington Post. “Is this the downfall of a newspaper, or is it the downfall of a community?”

But incoming CEO Gabriel Dantur, who started Jan. 4, says the print edition will keep running while the company rethinks its relationship with advertisers and searches for ways to boost revenue. He said, however, that the print edition would have to shed pages to cut costs.

“The goal is to assure El Diario’s sustainability,” Dantur told HuffPost. “We’re aware these are difficult times. But a business that isn’t self-sustaining, unless it’s a charity, can’t be independent.”

Dantur’s mission will be difficult. El Diario/La Prensa’s financial problems predate the La Nación purchase and reflect many of the same pressures that shuttered metro dailies across the country over the last decade.

First published as a weekly in 1913, La Prensa emerged in a thriving era for the multilingual press serving New York City’s many immigrant communities. Originally targeted toward Spaniards in the Lower East Side, the paper changed with the times, embracing new waves of readers with roots in Latin America who shared the Spanish language. La Prensa merged with its competitor El Diario in 1963, giving today’s paper its compound name.

With the rise of the Internet, the paper’s circulation plunged, along with ad revenue. Paid circulation peaked at 80,000 in the late 1980s, but had plummeted to less than half of that by the time La Nación bought ImpreMedia in 2012, according to Audit Bureau of Circulation data cited by New American Media.

With revenue dwindling, La Nación’s purchase of ImpreMedia — a media company that publishes a handful of Spanish-language dailies nationwide, including Los Angeles daily La Opinión — seemed like an opportunity to change course and obtain the investment needed to reinvent a clunky digital operation that existed largely as an afterthought to print.

El Diario/La Prensa still produces strong reporting of urgent local interest. Zaira Cortes, for example, has published a series of reports on the anxiety stoked locally by the Obama administration’s immigration raids. And Dantur points out that La Nación pumped more than $20 million into ImpreMedia since the purchase four years ago.

But despite an injection of new money and a web page redesign, the paper continued to struggle, leaving many in New York’s Latino community concerned about the future of the century-old institution.

“The paper’s already become irrelevant to a lot of people,” Angelo Falcón, the director of the National Institute of Latino Policy, told HuffPost. “There is no paper or mechanism that has replaced El Diario and the role that it played historically. It’s a big loss.”

At the same time, a management viewed by the union and some former employees as imperious and disconnected from New York’s multiethnic and multicultural Latino community repeatedly butted heads with staff. The National Labor Relations Board found in 2014 that the new owners had violated the company’s collective bargaining agreement by illegally firing eight employees. An agreement between the union and management prohibited further layoffs until this year.

Dantur acknowledged the tensions, but said they could be overcome with time and dialog. He described the cuts as “painful,” but noted that ImpreMedia has lost money for each of the four years that La Nación has owned it. It will come closer toward reaching a break-even point this year, he said.

“Many people fail to understand that the responsibility of the management is to guarantee the survival of the company,” Dantur said. “A media outlet that has existed for 100 years is an institution. It carries in its DNA the mission of acting as a voice for a community. What we want is to keep it from disappearing.”

With his previous contact with staff limited to quarterly visits to New York for board meetings, Dantur will have the benefit of building fresh relationships in the newsroom. But the beginning of his tenure will also be clouded by dismissing more staff shortly after taking over.

This story was first published in The Huffington Post


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