Security in the Caribbean Basin: The Challenge of Regional Cooperation

By Joseph S. Tulchin; Ralph H. Espach | Go to book overview

7
Migration and Regional Security:
Besieged Borders and
Caribbean Diasporas
Lilian Bobea

There is a consensus in recent literature about Caribbean foreign relations that the end of the Cold War presents the region with new challenges in the area of security. 1 If, during the Cold War, Caribbean geopolitics were largely defined by United States objectives, especially the neutralization of political and ideological adversaries, this new stage has seen a fundamental change in security concerns, one that obliges states in the region to orient their policies toward new or newly important challenges and conflicts. Paramount among these challenges are drug trafficking and unauthorized migration, the latter phenomenon being dichotomized into the categories of political refugees and economic migrants. 2

Thus the post-Cold War period brings with it a critical change in the conceptualization both of security and of geopolitics with the recognition of new actors and processes. In present times, the Caribbean has lost the privileged condition it enjoyed vis-à-vis the United States. The change can be seen in the termination of the special immigration status for Cuban refugees, the elimination of Law 936 in Puerto Rico, a major incentive to investment in the region, and the refusal of the United States to grant parity to Caribbean manufacturers forced to compete with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Concomitant with these processes reshaping the geopolitics of the region, emerging political instabilities, as in the case of Haiti, and social polarization have provoked the exacerbation of a historically constant phenomenon: migration. Population movements have played a mayor role reshaping the perception of state boundaries, challenging the concept of sovereignty and redefining social values in communities abroad. In general terms, “never before has international migration seemed so pertinent to national security. ” 3 These new trends have made migration an issue of internal security for

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