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Does Emigration Strengthen or Weaken Castro?
Cuban refugees on their way to Florida.

Does Emigration Strengthen or Weaken Castro?

U. of Michigan sociologist examines the net effects of Cuban exodus on the stability of the island's government.

Colleen Trujillo Email ColleenTrujillo

On April 13, Silvia Pedraza, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Michigan, spoke on "Democratization and Emigration: Cuba's Exodus and the Development of Civil Society." Pedraza examined the impact that the ongoing exodus from Cuba during the 1990s and the first years of the twenty-first century has had on the island. Are exit and opposition mutually exclusive strategies, as many scholars have claimed? Officials in the Cuban government tend to share this position, viewing the exodus as a safety valve that releases popular tension and dissatisfaction. But Pedraza showed that emigration tended to open the island to the outside world, created personal links between those who stayed behind and their families and friends overseas, and encouraged visits to Cuba by recent expatriates, precisely the type of emigrants who had the most active connections to the island’s population. Through these mechanisms, leaving ended up bolstering ¬rather than weakening civil society and civil resistance.

Professor Pedraza’s talk was part of the Latin American Center’s Social Science Colloquium series.

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