Foreign Policy Blogs

Central America: A Forgotten Neighbour or the One Next Door?

Central America: Part 1:

In communities all over North America since the 1980s there has been an ever-growing community of Central Americans among American, Canadian and Mexican cities. The destruction of many communities due to the Central American wars in the 1980s have left permanent scars among not only the economic, social and political structures of many Central American states, but have also left a lasting legacy of social and economic issues among those youth growing up inside Central America and in those growing communities abroad.

In the article from, the author Edward Alden gives an overview of the reasons why many migrants from Central America and other regions of Latin America come to the United States. With the history of Central America, many have come as political refugees, but Alden points out that much of the recent migration is economic migration. According to Alden, Central Americans now make up 22% of the "unauthorised population" in the US. Considering the small population most Central American countries have in comparison to their neighbours, the great urge for Central Americans in making up the large number of undocumented migrant workers currently working in the United States is impressive, and will only grow in the future.

While many Central American states were wrought with Civil War, Costa Rica, one of the few countries in the world with no official Armed Forces has been comparatively peaceful throughout the last few decades. An exchange has developed, as many Costa Ricans have come to Canada on only tourist visas and have stayed and found legal and illegal employment, many Canadians have now chosen the small Central American state as their new retirement home. Economic migrants from both countries, like Bruce Callow suggests in the CBC article on A Changing Costa Rica shows how the traditional migrant from Central America coming to work in Canada or the US has been complimented by Canadian migrants coming to stop working in Costa Rica.

In the second part, I will discuss the effects of the CAFTA Trade Agreement on Immigration to the US and discuss trends of Immigration from the Region to Canada.



Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration


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