International Migration in Cuba: Accumulation, Imperial Designs, and Transnational Social Fields

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International Migration in Cuba: Accumulation, Imperial Designs, and Transnational Social Fields
By Margarita Cervantes-Rodríguez
Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010
328 pp. $75.00
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Cubans today are leaving home in search of more promising lives in the United States and elsewhere, but for most of the preceding 500 years, Cuba was a destination -- for emigrants from Spain and other unstable European lands and from nearby Caribbean islands, as well as for African slaves and Chinese “coolies.” Cervantes-Rodríguez recounts this compelling human drama with the passion and sweep of neo-Marxian world-historical analysis and her own memories as the granddaughter of Spanish immigrants to Cuba who fled the country because of Fidel Castro’s repression of immigrant entrepreneurship. Along with the many fascinating historical connections she draws, readers will learn that that the transfer of remittances and business skills among immigrant family members to aid the development of small enterprises, in both Cuba and their countries of origin, has a long tradition. Cervantes-Rodríguez praises the Obama administration for allowing Cuban Americans to return to Cuba and send cash to their island-bound relatives and criticizes the Cuban government for maintaining unusual travel restrictions, even as it now exports professional labor to accumulate scarce foreign currency.