Towards the Redefinition of The National Community
Department of Sociology,
The Johns Hopkins University
Working Paper #18
Program in Comparative and International Development
ABSTRACT: Transnationalism is a dialectical process. Grassroots transnationalism--the struggle for economic, social, and political reinsertion by displaced populations--elicits an elite transnational response. The transnational migrant social field is consequently a contested terrain in which new relations of domination and exploitation emerge out of established power structures and hegemonic strategies. Ultimately, the transnational engagement of grassroots and elites envelops the national community and leads to the redefinition of the boundaries of the nation-state. This paper tests this dialectical proposition on the case of El Salvador. It examines the grassroots transnational economic and political activities of Salvadoran transmigrants, the multiple impacts they have on their place of origin, and the responses they elicit on the part of the Salvadoran state and bourgeoisie.
There is growing evidence that the immigrant experience in the United States has changed dramatically over the last twenty years. Previously, the decision to exit one's country of origin and settle in a host country was identified with two distinct ways of life--one left behind and another just beginning. The immigrant experience is no longer as sharply segmented between home and host society. For example, Dominican wage-workers living in New York City invest their savings in business ventures in the Dominican Republic; Haitian immigrants in the United States are granted their own ministry in the government of President Jean Bertrand Aristide; and Mayan girls born in Houston are sent to their parent's village in Guatemala to be raised according to tradition by their grandparents. Immigrants now commonly maintain long term familial, economic and political ties that span national borders. Thus, although immigrants have historically forged ties between their sending and receiving country, the transnational relations they currently sustain appear to be more stable and complex.
The nature of the transnational relations forged by immigrants merits a reconsideration of the categories by which the study of international migration is currently guided. In this paper, I use the eclectic theoretical framework of transnationalism to analyze the economic and political ties forged between El Salvador and the Salvadoran population of the United States. After introducing the basic tenets of the transnationalism approach, I summarize how Salvadorans have constructed a transnational social field that links El Salvador to Salvadoran settlements in the US.. I focus on the economic and political practices sustained by Salvadoran transmigrants, and the responses they elicit on the part of El Salvador's economic and political elites. I argue that a comprehensive analysis of transnationalism requires consideration of both grassroots and elite transnational practices since it is the dialectical relationship between these two social spheres, not simply the activities of transmigrants, that leads to the consolidation of a transnational social field.
2. Transnationalism: A Theoretical Overview
The transnationalism approach applies and extends the postulates of both the social process and the historical-structural models of international migration in order to analyze the causes and consequences of the formation of a transnational social field (For a review of competing theories of international migration see Portes and Borözc 1989). The earliest proponents of the transnationalism approach define transnationalism as,
a series of economic, sociocultural, and political practices and processes which transcend the confines of the territorially bounded jurisdiction of the nation-state and are an essential part of the normal lives of those involved (Guarnizo 1996:5). These ties are forged and sustained by immigrants through multi-stranded social relations that link together their societies of origin and settlement (Basch et al 1994:7).
Through the constant spatial mobility of people and resources, immigrants actively construct a transnational social field that extends beyond a single location, straddles international borders, and is effectively neither here nor there, but in a newly constructed social space.
Like the social process model, transnationalism argues that social networks are the foundation for the construction and maintenance of a transnational migrant social field. Social networks are defined as:
the increasingly dense web of social contacts between places of origin and destination spawned by migrants' spatial displacement that are sustained on the basis of social and kin relationships (Massey et al 1987; Portes and Bach 1985 ).
Social networks facilitate, perpetuate, and extend migration as they tie-in groups distributed across different places (Portes and Walton 1981:60). But, according to the transnationalism approach, social networks also enable transmigrants to sustain a simultaneous connection with two or more nation-states. Thus, the continuous circulation of people, money, goods, and information between the various settlements of a transmigrant population come to constitute a single community spread across a variety of sites (Kearney 1991).
The household is the essential starting point in the formation of transmigrant social networks and the foundation for all other types of transnational social relations (Basch et al. 1994:236). The household is both the base of kin-group survival strategies and the nexus from which economic and political strategies of kin-group advancement are organized. For instance, kin at home provide the necessary support for migrant kin with political aspirations in their hometown by orchestrating and managing migrants' visits and soliciting support within the home community. Transnational family networks are also used to develop large and small businesses across national borders. The result is that transmigrants' notion of kinship, as it is stretched spatially, is reconfigured (Basch et al. 1994:236).
Echoing the historical-structural framework, transnationalism contends that migration, its direction, scale, and character, is shaped by the structure of capital flows (Sassen 1978 and 1988; Wolf 1982). Thus, the practices and processes sustained by transmigrants that lead to the formation of a transnational migrant social field are necessarily linked to changes in the global capitalist system. Emphasizing the apparently novel trends of the post-1970s logic of capital accumulation, transnationalism contends that the increased internationalization of capital and the parallel slide of the world economy into sustained economic crisis has prompted a change in the nature of global labour displacement and insertion (Gordon 1988). It has caused the flow of international migrants to increase in absolute terms and has led the movement of populations to shift from bilocational to multilocational movement (Wilson 1994; Rouse 1991). Furthermore, the global reorganization of production toward 'flexible accumulation' is associated with the rise of new travel and communications technology that compress space-time (Harvey 1989; Basch et al 1994). While these technological advances do not cause the emergence of a transmigrant social field, they do facilitate the transnational circulation of tangible and intangible resources required for its stability and consolidation.
It is the control that states exercise over borders and their power to define the terms by which new entrants into the national territory are incorporated into the national society that makes international migration a distinctly political process (Zolberg 1992; Zolberg et al. 1989). Based on this premise, transnationalism explores the political implications of the emergence of a transnational migrant social field. By living their lives across borders, transmigrants are simultaneously engaged in the nation-buidling process of two nation-states. Since the transnational social field straddles national borders, transmigrants' activities impinge not simply on the state's role as gatekeeper, but also on its capacity to maintain hegemonic control over its transmigrant-citizens. This situation prompts the state, commonly of the sending country, to engage in extra-territorial hegemonic strategies in order to either reinscribe the transmigrant-citizen into a national project dictated on the state's terms, and/or to diffuse their potentially disruptive effect.
To date, the transnationalism approach has produced vivid ethnographies and rich theoretical discussion. In particular, it has forced a reconsideration of bounded social science concepts and specifically of the dichotomous framework within which established interpretations of international migration have conceived of the migration process. It has also stimulated recognition of migrants not simply as providers of labour power for capitalist production in a world economy, but also as political and social actors.
The focus on human agency, that is on transmigrants as political and social actors, has led proponents of transnationalism to argue that participation in the transnational social field grants transmigrants greater leverage to purposefully challenge the economic, political, and socio-cultural hierarchies in which they are embedded. Case studies of transmigrant populations thus tend to associate transnationality with autonomy. They emphasize events and practices that suggest a liberatory process. For instance, President Aristide is portrayed as bypassing the power of entrenched national elites by garnering support among the Haitian diaspora; the binational self-help association of Mixtex migrants who have taken agricultural jobs in California is presented as a self-produced political space; and migrant associations that organize to assist their hometown are lauded as leaders of local economic development.
This celebratory posture that portrays transmigrants as breaking free from existing hiearchies in both their home and host society is problematic. The emergence of a transnational social field undoutedly grants the transmigrant 'have nots' of society new elements for contesting power. But transnationalism should be conceptualized as a dialectical process. Grassroots transnationalism--the struggle for economic, social, and political reinsertion by displaced populations--elicits an elite transnational response. The transnational migrant social field becomes, not an autonomous sphere of social action, but rather a contested terrain in which new relations of domination and exploitation emerge out of established power structures and hegemonic strategies. Ultimately, the transnational engagement of grassroots and elites envelops the national community and leads to the redefinition of the boundaries of national membership.
The case of Salvadoran transnationalism provides the opportunity to test this dialectical proposition. After presenting a brief history of Salvadoran migration patterns, I examine the patterns and interactions of elite and grassroots economic and political transnationalism. Interview data collected during two months of field research in El Salvador is used to analyze the emergence and consolidation of the Salvadoran transnational social field. Thirty interviews were conducted with key informants in two field ites: San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, and San Miguel, the largest secondary city in Oriente, the region of the country hardest hit by the civil war and the place of origin of seventy percent of transmigrants.[ #1 ]
3. Historical Patterns of Salvadoran Migration
El Salvador, the smallest and most densely populated country of Central America, is the prototype of the peripheral nation-state. Since its incorporation into the capitalist world economy in the late nineteenth century, its economy, polity, and society has been disproportionately determined by exogenous social forces (Cardoso and Faletto 1971; Shannon 1989). Its economic history can be summarized as a series of boom-bust cycles of export-led production and a parallel dispossession of the labouring population from its sources of livelihood (North 1981). The state has been dominated by authoritarian landlord-dominated governments beholden to United States' companies and ultimately dependent on U.S. politico-strategic force (Zolberg 1995). In turn, these cycles of displacement and extreme poverty have given rise to widespread political mobilization culminating in rebellion in the 1870s, again in 1932, and most recently in the period 1979-1992.
A constant and defining feature of the Salvadoran social order is a pattern of permanent and cyclical population displacement associated with capitalist penetration (Browning 1971). Hamilton and Chinchilla (1991) identify three cumulative patterns of migration linked to changes in the process of capitalist penetration. First, in the 1880s, El Salvador's incorporation into the world economy as a coffee producer and exporter resulted in the expulsion of subsistence producers from fertile lands to marginal areas and the cyclical migration of peasants to the coffee regions during the harvest season. Second, following World War II, industrial modernization and the mechanization of agro-export production changed the direction of migration from a rural-rural flow to a rural-urban flow. Throughout Central America, the modernization of agriculture reduced the need for a permanent rural labour force and simultaneously intensified the demand for seasonal labour. Salvadorans therefore began migrating to Guatemala and Honduras where they constituted up to ten percent of the seasonal harvest labour force. Finally, in the sixties, the displacement and mobility of labour increased due to two factors. While agricultural modernization displaced more labour from rural areas,[ #2 ] capital-intensive industrialization in urban areas failed to provide sufficient employment.
Salvadoran migration to the United States overlaps with the intra-regional migration networks that were constructed by a century of capitalist penetration and displacement. Salvadorans first migrated to the U.S. at the turn of the century.[ #3 ] Between 1900 and the 1920s, Salvadorans associated with the country's coffee oligarchy immigrated to San Francisco, headquarters of U.S. corporate investors in the Central American coffee economy (Córdoba 1995). During Kennedy's Alliance for Progress initiative, the U.S. presence in El Salvador increased dramatically in the form of professionals, technocrats, diplomats, and multinational corporations investing in manufacturing. Given the mobility of the Salvadoran worker, and decreased opportunities for employment within the intra-regional labour system, this renewed U.S. presence in the country prompted a significant increase in the flow of labour migration to the United States.
In the 1980s, Salvadorans fled their country in unprecedented numbers, not in search of employment but rather seeking safe haven. The population movement of the 1980s was qualitatively different because, although it followed the patterns established by previous migration flows, it was, at its inception, a refugee population fleeing a war in which they had become a military objective (Zolberg et al 1989). It is estimated that between 1980 and 1989 a total of 400,00 Salvadorans were internally displaced, 300,000 sought refuge in neighboring countries, and approximately 1.5 million migrated to North America (ECLA 1993; Hamilton and Chinchilla 1991).
By the end of the 1980s, Salvadorans had become a ubiquitous presence in many large cities of the United States, the largest concentrations being located in Los Angeles, Houston, Boston, New York City and its surroundings (Long Island and Jersey City), Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. The booming business in the illegal transport of human cargo, commonly known as coyotes, found throughout El Salvador suggests that the flow of Salvadorans wishing to enter the United States has not diminished in the 1990s. In El Salvador, dozens of phantom travel agencies, with names such as Los Angeles- or Chihuahua- Express, guarantee safe entry into the United States for around $2500. Another indicator of the continued flow of migrants into the U.S. is the number of passports issued by the Salvadoran government. The San Miguel branch of the General Office of Migration estimates that they grant seventy passports a day, of which perhaps one will be given a visa for the United States. Since coyotes ask that individuals have a passport in order to enter and cross Mexico, this too proves that Salvadorans continue to enter the United States illegally in large numbers.
Information on the Salvadoran population in the United States is quite
fragmentary. The census provides information on documented Salvadorans,
but this picture is incomplete since approximately fifty percent of them
are undocumented. According to the most recent analysis,
Salvadorans are among the most undocumented of national origin groups (approximately 49%); they are poor and work in the marginal, non-formal sectors of the economy; their claim to refugee status has never been recognized by the U.S. government; and, they are about to lose what temporary protection against deportation they have had (López, Telles and Popkin 1997).
Salvadorans are therefore argued to constitute one of the most vulnerable national origin groups in the United States.
4. Economic Transnationalism
The first economic links between El Salvador and the United States were a direct outgrowth of the civil war. They consisted of informal communication and delivery services that enabled families and friends to maintain regular contact across borders. As the size of the migrant population increased, so too did the flow of resources between the U.S. and El Salvador. Family remittances became an essential source of hard currency for a shrinking national economy paralyzed by civil war. A variety of elite and grassroots enterpreneurial strategies emerged that responded to the growing centrality of the transmigrant in the nation's economic order. El Salvador was slowly enveloped by economic transnationalism.
During the war, El Salvador's already irregular national postal service became totally dysfunctional. Not only was the postal system burdened by theft and corruption, it was often unable to make deliveries to certain rural areas since these were involved in the military conflict. In this context, Salvadorans who had the legal documentation required to travel to and from El Salvador began to offer a highly personalized delivery service. Moving between Salvadoran settlements in the United States and even the most remote rural villages of El Salvador, they delivered precious letters, gifts, legal documents, and cash to family and friends in both locations. These personal couriers quickly diversified their service to include the unregulated export and import of Salvadoran and U.S. products. From these humble beginnings was born an incredibly heterogeneous, highly specialized, multi-service communication and delivery system that is now at the heart of the Salvadoran transnational social field.
Today, the flow of tangible and intangible resources between Salvadorans in the United States and El Salvador is practically unmeasurable. It is estimated that each year Salvadoran migrant households with an average income of $22,000 send back $6000 or that, if distributed across the entire population, every month of the year every person in El Salvador receives a $200 subsidy from a Salvadoran migrant in the United States (López, Popkin and Telles 1997; Dada 1996). Added to this cash-flow is the endless flood of new and used products--radios, telephones, clothing, televisions, vehicles, heavy machinery, machine parts, tools, computers, fax-machines, bicycles, videos, running shoes, etc.--valued in the millions of dollars, that pours into El Salvador on a daily basis. The flow from El Salvador to the United States is equally lively and includes Salvadoran edibles (cheese, Pollo Campero, tropical fruits, turtle eggs, tamales, tortillas, sweets, beer, etc..), medication for which a prescription is required in the United States, artesanal products, machetes, clothing and undergarments, etc.. This northbound flow of gastronomic and cultural nostalgia makes its way into the homes of Salvadoran families either directly or via the mom and pop stores found in every Salvadoran neighborhood in the United States.
There is a countless variety of channels and mechanisms by which this constant two way movement of resources is maintained. There are, first of all, both non-entrepreneurial and entrepreneurial channels of circulation, and among the business channels there are both informal and formal outfits. Non-entrepreneurial channels of circulation basically refer to the what one informant called el deporte nacional. Whenever Salvadorans visit their country, they travel weighed down with huge parcels bursting at the edges packed with all manner of things to be given as gifts or sold for a small profit to fellow Salvadorans. This flow peaks during holiday seasons such as the national patron saint festival of August, regional patron saint festivals, Easter, and Christmas.
Among the informal entrepreneurs, some make the bi-monthly trip by air, while those who specialize in transporting large items travel by land. There is a further distinction made between the personal courier who delivers letters and cash, and the viajero who specializes in the transport of products. In rural areas these two functions are commonly carried out by a single person who has an established network of clients in his or her hometown. The rural viajero gains the trust of her clients not only through prompt delivery of packages but also as she advances packages without payment, reads letters for the illiterate, recounts how family members abroad are faring, how much grandchildren have grown, or how the situation is for Salvadorans in the United States. In the cities, and particularly in San Salvador, informal courier services tend to be more contractual, are based less on personal ties, and rarely involve any form of 'social work' on the part of the traveller.
Finally, in recent months, informal couriers have come under attack from the U.S. embassy in El Salvador which during the 1996 Christmas holiday season imposed heavy restrictions on what Salvadorans were allowed to bring into the United States. Travelers were allowed to enter the U.S. with only five kilos of cheese, other food items were prohibited, and people were not permitted to carry letters and small packages for third persons. The U.S. Embassy in El Salvador claimed that this move was prompted by health concerns but Salvadorans, and particularly viajeros I spoke to, saw this as a part of a coordinated U.S.-Salvadoran government effort to shut informal couriers out of the transnational delivery business.
There are two types of formal delivery services that emerged in the mid-1980s and now compete directly with the informal enterprises. The first service, monopolized by two or three large companies, basically offers exactly the same service as informal personal couriers and viajeros. The offices of companies such as Gigante-, Leon, and Cairo-Express are found in every city and town of El Salvador and in every Salvadoran settlement in the United States. Interestingly, at least one of these companies, Gigante Express, started out very much like the informal personal couriers and grew into a million dollar enterprise that now services not only El Salvador, but also Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
The second service is the channeling of cash remittances through financial institutions. In the late eighties, the Central Reserve Bank of El Salvador (BCR) authorized the Banco Cuscatlán and the Banco Salvadoreño, two of the country's most important banks, to wire family remittances from branches which it had set up in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston. The BCR estimates that between eight and ten million dollars are remitted annually through these two financial institutions. Western Union and MoneyGram have also been authorized to wire remittances to El Salvador. In 1993, FEDECACES, a Salvadoran credit union associated with the Fuerzas Populares de Liberación-Farabundo Martí (FPL), one of the founding parties of the FMLN, launched a remittance service programme for its members. The programme has been coordinated with a credit union in San Francisco but has met with little success. To date only seventy-five members of the estimated 1500 who receive remittances have had their cash wired through FEDECACES.
The BCR's decision to allow Salvadoran financial institutions to channel family remittances reflects a recognition of remittances' centrality in the Salvadoran economy. Salvadorans remit an estimated one billion dollars yearly, a figure several hundred million dollars superior to the value of the country's exports (Mahler 1995). With El Salvador importing twice the value of its exports, remittances clearly safeguard the country's macro-economic stability. Remittances have also provided an essential social subsidy that has permitted the government to speed-up a schedule of structural adjustment measures that had been postponed during the civil war. But remittances have for many years also simply taken the place of a coherent economic programme (Dada 1996). Ironically, they are now the shaky centre piece in the government's plan for economic development.
In an effort to capitalize on this unstable and, most likely, temporary economic subsidy, several programmes linking family remittances to productive investment have been implemented or are currently under consideration by the BCR. The first programme launched by the BCR allowed remittance senders to access bank loans for productive investment in El Salvador. Very few persons used the programme and it was eventually cancelled. There are several new programmes under consideration by the BCR in consultation with the World Bank. One such programme links the reception of remittances with mortgage loan guarantees for persons who would otherwise not qualify for credit. There is also talk of reforming the Salvadoran retirement pension programme to permit Salvadorans living in the United States who report and are taxed on their U.S. earnings to qualify for the national pension programme.
Economic analysts are skeptical that Salvadoran migrants will actually use these loan programmes. Salvadoran elites question the investment acumen of the nation's popular classes. Interviews with government representatives revealed a strong disdain for, "spendthrift peasants who take advantage of their hard working migrant family members, spend remittances on luxury consumption, and refuse to invest in anything remotely productive". If, as informants suggest, the problem lies with non-migrant Salvadorans, then the key is to delink Salvadoran migrants sense of family responsibility from their individual business interests. Representatives of the country's private sector are more realistic. They argue that there is no license to tie family remittances to business investment simply because of the extreme levels of poverty in El Salvador. Remittances are not destined for luxury consumption but are actually an essential subsidy in a household's living wage.
In retrospect, several patterns are discernible within this transnational economic circuit. Over a period of fifteen years, the transnational circuit has undergone a spiral of growth, specialization, and diversification. Informal couriers have proliferated and formal couriers have emerged to offer parallel services. The relationship between these two spheres of economic activity has, until recently, been based on open competition. But, if the U.S. embassy's travel restrictions are any indication, there is now a push toward the displacement of informal couriers from the market. Finally, and most significantly, the hermano lejano or distant brother, as the Salvadoran migrant is referred to, has emerged as a central player in the country's economic programme. Both the proliferation of transmigrant business ventures and the diversification of exports that target the Salvadoran market abroad confirm the centrality of the Salvadoran migrant in the country's economic equation. As the ensuing discussion suggests, these two investment trends signal a major shift in the character of the Salvadoran economy. They also shed light on the way in which peripheral nations vested in migration experience the process of globalization.
In the early 1990s, the signing of the Peace Accords of Chapultepec by the FMLN and the government of El Salvador (GOES) and the perceived threat of mass deportations from the United States produced a short-lived surge in the flow of cash remittances to El Salvador. Basically, the end of the civil war prompted many hopeful Salvadoran migrants to return and invest in El Salvador. Others who chose to remain in the United States, but feared suddenly being deported without a chance to collect their belongings, also invested their savings in El Salvador. Thus, unlike family remittances, this cash flow was earmarked for investment. It resulted in the proliferation of transmigrant business ventures, that is enterprises owned by return migrants and/or dependent on a transnational circuit of inputs. The economic landscape of El Salvador's urban centres was transformed.
Transmigrant small business investment has been concentrated in economic sectors associated with the Salvadoran labour experience in the United States. The most common enterprises include restaurants (Tex-Mex, Salva-Mex, and Chinese), transportation (taxi lines, city and inter-urban bus lines, distribution and delivery trucks), new and used vehicle sales, repair, and maintenance, commerce (used and new clothing, electrical appliances, etc), laundromats, and fax/photocopy services. At first transmigrant businesses were a welcome novelty since they offered services that granted war-weary Salvadorans a little piece of "the American dream". Having invaded and saturated the national economic order, typical transmigrant business ventures are no longer celebrated. An article in the national daily, La Prensa Gráfica, captures the current posture on transmigrants economic activities. Its author states,
It angers me to see the waste of an historical opportunity being carried out by the hundreds of thousands of distant brothers who emigrated...and whose inheritance goes no further than the sale of pick-ups and run down car washes (Durán 1996).[ #4 ]
The hermano lejano is now perceived as wasting a historical opportunity for personal and national economic advancement.
The socio-economic impact of transnational entrepreneurship is most evident in the city of San Miguel. A stroll through its downtown reveals how profoundly the migration process regulates the life of this small city. Businesses associated with the transmigrant class are found throughout San Miguel, but many are on the verge of bankruptcy. Drawn by the flow of dollars, the country's major banks all opened branches in San Miguel in 1990-91. Many of these have now closed for lack of clientele. The Banco Cuscatlán is one of the banks that has stayed and the small heap of machetes that lie just inside its doors, under the sign 'please check your weapons', signals who their clients are--transmigrant campesinos. The teller lines are filled by older campesino women with wads of dollars or campesino men who sport the accoutrements of migration--running shoes, gold chains, and a walkman. The demand for documentation, such as birth certificates and titles to property, by transmigrants and their families also sparked an expansion in legal services but many lawyers are now closing their offices and returning to San Salvador. Extending out from the city core into the agricultural lands that lay idle during the war, are row after row of newly constructed family dwellings. For five years (1990-1995), transmigrants were buying homes in a single cash payment but sales have now dropped and many of the newest developments remain unoccuppied. By 1994, the San Miguel boom had also attracted investors from San Salvador. Metrocentro, a massive postmodern construction housing the country's main department stores was built. Recently inaugurated, Metrocentro's store windows are empty and, like San Miguel itself, rests on the verge of bankrupcty.
San Miguel's recent economic history unveils the broader significance of grassroots economic transnationalism. Migration has rescripted the city's social landscape. Transmigrant households' decision to repatriate cash savings produced an illusion of economic health that, like a vortex, drew all sectors of Salvadoran society towards its centre. A totally fictitious economy, based solely on the circulation of money and credit, forced a disregard for the simple post-war fact that San Miguel produces absolutely nothing. The city's shortlived prosperity mimics the economic history of El Salvador that, like all countries of the periphery, has been shaped by repeated boom-bust economic cycles. What makes the San Miguel episode distinct is that the detonators of the economic boom were not the nation's landed elite, nor enhanced global markets for agro-exports, or investments by multinational corporations. Rather, the central players behind this unsustainable economic bubble were transmigrant families.
This raises the issue of how a peripheral nation either mitigates or harnesses the destabilizing force of popular economic transnationalism. The answer would seem to lie in the provision of channels for transmigrants regulated engagement with the national economy. Programmes linking family remittances to investment are obviously ineffective. What is required is the institutionalized representation of transmigrant entrepreneurs in the national order. Indeed, this has been the solution in other countries such as the Dominican Republic where transmigrants have lobbied for and been granted political and commercial representation (Guarnizo 1992 and 1994). In the case of El Salvador there appear to be several major stumblings on the road towards the institutional representation of Salvadoran transmigrants in the country's affairs. First, at the local level, there is very little incentive for transmigrants to seek instutional assistance. There is a history of institutional hostility towards micro- and small-enterprises (Montoya 1994 and 1995). Interviews with transmigrant entrepreneurs suggests that individuals are often bypassed for small business loans due to their political allegiances. But perhaps the most fundamental barrier standing in the way of the institutionalized incorporation of transmigrants as economic actors is Salvadoran society's exclusionary ethos. Ironically, the historically shortsighted rapacity of Salvadoran elites impedes the emergence of an economic order ruled by a genuinely open capitalist market. In this context, the economic force of transmigrants is likely to continue being a destabilizing one that, like indigo, coffee and sugar before it, will fade away with time.
The market possibilities generated by the existence of a large Salvadoran population abroad have led to a second economic trend that also demonstrates the centrality of the hermano lejano in the national economic agenda. Prompted by a saturated national market, large corporations have tried to capitalize on Salvadoran migrants' culturally distinct consumption patterns. These companies now conceive of Salvadoran settlements in the United States as part of their natural market. Two of the four large corporations utilizing this strategy were interviewed: the Corporación Promotora de la Pequeña y Micro Empresa (CORPRIME) and the Cámara Salvadoreña de la Industria y la Construcción (CASALCO). It was not possible to interview representatives of the two other companies, the Constancia Bottling Co. and the supermarket chain La Tapachulteca.
The more straightforward case of expansion into the Salvadoran market abroad is that of CASALCO. In June of 1996, the CASALCO hosted a real estate fair in the city of Los Angeles which was organized with the support of a Salvadoran migrant entrepreneur and the Los Angeles branch of the Salvadoran Chamber of Commerce. The fair was attended by twenty-five Salvadoran construction companies and four Salvadoran banks including the Banco Agrícola Comercial, the BCR, the Banco de Desarollo, and CREDISA. Although thousands of Salvadorans attended the fair, there were very few sales. According to CASALCO, the failure of the fair was due to several factors including: the condition of illegality of Salvadorans in the United States which limits their capacity to get loans from U.S. banks; the high cost of the luxury houses on display; the absence of financial incentives for Salvadorans abroad on the part of financial institutions. The director of CASALCO believes that there is a fundamental incompatibility between the needs of a real estate market and El Salvador's financial institutions since these maintain a mortgage rate of approximately twenty-four percent. In response to this obstruction, the CASALCO is lobbying the BCR to create a line of credit tailored to Salvadorans abroad. The Hermano Lejano Account would offer accounts in U.S. dollars, the facility of paying back loans directly from the United States, and mortgage rates closer to those in the United States. The CASALCO has undertaken a market study of Washington D.C's Salvadoran population with the idea of hosting a second real estate fair in this city.
The second case studied was CORPRIME. Founded in June of 1996, CORPRIME brings representatives of El Salvador's largest business associations--the Asociación Nacional de la Empresa Privada (ANEP) and the Cámara de Comercio e Industria de El Salvador (CCI)--together with bicultural transmigrant entrepreneurs. The corporation's stated goal is to organize existing small and medium scale artesanal enterprises in El Salvador into systems of cluster production following the model of Emilia Romagna, Italy (Vittorio 1989). The manufactories will produce items, such as leather goods and clothing, geared for the Latino market in California. CORPRIME's first project was the production of cowboy boots for which Mexico provided the boot soles, Nicaragua the leather, and El Salvador the artesan labour. A major stumbling block in CORPRIME's export strategy has been the high cost of air cargo transportation which is monopolized TACA, the Salvadoran airline. To date, TACA has refused to advance special shipping rates for Salvadoran exporters.
CORPRIME combines two elements that place it at the forefront of a novel economic trend. First, the corporation presents a discourse on globalization that is relatively new in El Salvador. The CORPRIME's administrator gleefully states, "globalization democratizes the market, putting small and medium scale producers on an equal footing with large corporations". One may be profoundly skeptical of globalization as 'the great equalizer' (Harrison 1994; Pérez Sáinz 1994 and 1996). Nonetheless, it is indisputable that CORPRIME capitalizes on a set of global market conditions that are a result of post-1970s trends in globalization. In particular, the homogenization of markets for inputs and fragmentation of the production process enables CORPRIME to bring together boot soles from Mexico and leather from Nicaragua with cheap artesanal labour in El Salvador to supply a market niche in California.
Second, the corporation brings together an eclectic group of economic actors. On the one hand, CORPRIME relies on the bicultural human capital of its associates to organize production in El Salvador and on Salvadoran transmigrants in California to identify markets and develop a marketing and distribution strategy. In fact, both CORPRIME's administrator and one of its founders are return migrants with an intimate knowledge of the Latino market in California.[ #5 ] On the other hand, the corporations principal investors represent sectors of the Salvadoran elite that, by all indications, have lost their position in El Salvador's economic inner circle.
CORPRIME's principal investors include Héctor Vidal, executive director of ANEP, José Ernesto Manzilla, president of the Banco de Tierras [ #6 ], Salvador Rodríguez of the CCI, and Julio Gutíerrez an economist and return migrant. Héctor Vidal's participation in CORPRIME is particular significant since he is, allegedly, one of the authors of the controversial Manifiesto de ANEP. The Manifiesto is essentially a social pact that calls on the government, political parties, labour, and the private sector to put aside their exclusionary spirit and work together for the nation's long-term sustainable development (Vidal 1996). Given ANEP's recent anti-labour actions, the manifiesto's conciliatory tone appears disingenuous.[ #7 ] In fact, according to a Salvadoran political analyst, the only thing the Manifiesto reveals is that ANEP has lost its position of leadership in the Salvadoran capitalist class. Ribera states,
The sectors that make up ANEP are the losers in the competition for power. ANEP represents the sectors of agro-export capital and industrial capital that have been displaced by finance capital and commerce (Ribera 1996).[ #8 ]
Returning to the issue of CORPRIME's novelty, the globalization strategy of this economic venture can be seen as the struggle for economic reinsertion of traditional sectors of the Salvadoran capitalist class. Given their displacement from the seat of power, they have turned to the Salvadoran market abroad as a possible solution, if not to their political weakness, at least to their economic woes.
To summarize, economic activities linking El Salvador with Salvadoran migrants in the United States can be categorized along two dimensions: their degree of regulation and the nature of their insertion in the transnational social field. There are both formal and informal enterprises. But informality is pervasive and rules over the transnational social field, as it does El Salvador (Montoya 1994 and 1995; Salazar 1994) and Salvadoran settlements in the United States (Sassen 1991; Gómez 1993). Both grassroots and elite transnational entrepreneurship exhibit different modes of insertion in the transnational circuit. There are businesses, such as courier services and coyotes, that form an intrinsic part of the transnational social field. These activities depend on the continued viability of a Salvadoran transnational circuit for their solvency and likewise sustain the circuit. Another category of activities are only partially inserted in the transnational circuit, that is they function in this transnational space, at the moment of production, circulation or consumption.
Several tentative conclusions can be drawn about the dynamics of economic transnationalism based on the case of El Salvador. As the size of the transmigrant population increases, the more resources the population wields, and thus the more central a feature they become in the national economic order. Transmigrants' centrality in the national economic order prompts investment strategies from different sectors of society. These strategies have the cumulative effect of both cementing transmigrants' position in the national economy and furthering the process of transnationalization.
The case of El Salvador also suggests what factors determine the character of transmigrants' participation in the economy and thus the shape of economic transnationalism. In other words, it reveals under circumstances transmigrants become players or pawns in the national economy. Conjunctural factors, in this case the Peace Accords and the fear of deportation, play an important role in the way in which transmigrant families allocate resources. The short lived prosperity of San Miguel demonstrates the important aggregate effect of conjuntural decision-making by individual families on economic transnationalism. Related to this, the economic culture of popular classes and their labour experience in the United States also shapes the outcomes of economic transnationalism. Salvadoran transmigrants are ruled by a campesino culture. They live and work in the unregulated urban economies of Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., San Salvador and San Miguel. This is reflected in transmigrant business ventures which are concentrated in unessential services, and, to date, in their failure to organize collectively for their institutional representation in the Salvadoran economy. Finally, the historical and contemporary character of the national bourgeoisie also determines the character of transmigrants role in the economy. In the case of El Salvador, the exclusionary ethos of the Salvadoran capitalist class obstructs the participation of transmigrants. But the contemporary power struggle between factions of capital, itself a reflection of changes in the international capitalist order, may lead to the emergence of new relations between the country's different economic actors.
5. Political Transnationalism
The character of political ties between El Salvador and the Salvadoran population abroad has undergone several transformations since its inception in the 1970s. During the war, El Salvador's transnational political links were dominated by the FMLN and a fusion of grassroots social movements. After the signing of the Peace Accords (1992), militant political transnationalism withered, but autonomous grassroots mobilization by instances such as hometown associations flourished. The left's retreat from the transnational sphere of Salvadoran politics was also paralleled by the advance of elite political transnationalism. A cursory sketch of the three spheres of political action--left politics, autonomous grassroots mobilization, and elite politics--suggests that political transnationalism produces changes in the way both elites and popular classes 'do politics'. The transnational social field alters established strategies of contestation and domination, and leads to the emergence of new modes of political engagement.
The U. S.-based network of El Salvador's politico-military opposition was initiated in the late seventies by Salvadoran exiles associated with the five organizations that in October, 1980 united to constitute the FMLN. Over a period of fifteen years (1978-1992), two parallel and complementary international networks were forged--a solidarity network and an international network of FMLN political representatives. Together they formed a highly structured and tightly integrated movement whose programme was synchronized with the overall strategic priorities and tactical needs of the guerilla army and the unarmed movimiento popular.
At its peak in the mid-1980s, the solidarity network included thousands of local groups, spearheaded by a host of national umbrella organizations such as the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), the Sanctuary Movement, the Central American Refugee Centre (CARECEN), El Rescate, Pledge of Resistance, Witness for Peace, SHARE, etc.. (Gosse 1996). Likewise, the FMLN's body of international political representatives penetrated the highest spheres of international politics. It denounced the atrocities of the U.S.-backed Salvadoran government and presented their political platform at United Nations, the OAS and in national legislative assemblies around the world. While the GOES became an international pariah, the FMLN gained recognition as a legitimate political actor in Salvadoran affairs of state.
The Peace Accords, in particular the institutionalization of the FMLN as a political party, prompted a rupture in the established order of political transnationalism. Facing the challenge of electoral politics and a critical shortage of resources, the FMLN turned inwards. It dismantled its network of political representatives and granted tactical autonomy to national and international popular organizations. Cut loose from the strategic needs of the FMLN that had traditionally over determined their political agenda, transnational organizations such as the CARECEN and El Rescate experienced a deep definitional crisis.
Since 1992, the associations that survived this initial rupture have slowly adjusted and reconsidered their raison d'etre. Now their focus of concern is the Central American immigrant population in the United States and the problems they face as undocumented or semi-documented workers in an urban economy. Some groups, such as the Los Angeles chapters of the CARECEN and El Rescate, have also tried to forge new transnational links with El Salvador. In 1995 both organizations opened offices in San Salvador but by 1996 they were closed due in part to a lack of resources but perhaps, more importantly, to their rather ambiguous situation in post-war Salvadoran politics. Evidence of this is the fact that the majority of informants did not know or refused to acknowledge the existence of the CARECEN and El Rescate offices in San Salvador. Nor was either organization ever invited to participate in any of the round table discussion of topics, such as the rights of Salvadoran migrants in the United States, on which they obviously have much to offer.
Interviews with representatives of the country's political left confirm the dissolution of the political transnationalism of the 1980s.[ #9 ] It also intimates the shape relations between the political left and the Salvadoran population abroad are likely to take in the near future. The FMLN's spokesperson for international relations avoided questions regarding the party's tradition of transnational politics and the contributions of Salvadoran migrants to the guerilla. He emphasize that the FMLN now advocates for migrants' human rights but has no direct relationship with the population. The FMLN criticizes the ARENA government's use of diplomatic offices for political proselytism and itself has only irregular contact with Salvadorans abroad. The FMLN clearly recognizes the importance of Salvadorans abroad but its relationship with this population is marked by an air of diplomatic distance. In essence, from the perspective of the FMLN, the Salvadoran migrant population has gone from being an actor in its political programme to an object of debate between itself and the governing ARENA party.
In contrast, other left-of-centre political parties, including the Partido Democrático (PD) and the Convergencia Democrática, have developed a surprisingly coherent policy on Salvadoran migrants as political actors. Rubén Zamora, leader of the Convergencia, is eloquent in his recognition of the centrality of the hermano lejano in the national social order. In his interview, Zamora stated,
The centrality of migration as an issue for our nation must be recognized. It is not simply an economic problem or issue, but also a cultura, social and political one as well. The phenomenon calls for the need to redefine what our definition of the Salvadoran people and this new definition must incorporate the migrant (Interview with Rubén Zamora, November 6, 1996).[ #10 ]
Likewise, the PD calls for migrants to be allowed to vote in national elections and plans to sustain political contact with the Salvadoran population abroad. It also seeks to recruit young Salvadorans in the United States to return to El Salvador to work for the PD. The PD diputado Juan Ramón Medrano argued quite cogently,
If migrants are sending money and they play an important role in the country's macro-economy, than they should also play a role in national politics. As long as they are denied the right to vote [in national elections] they are being denied their equal and fair rights [as Salvadorans] (Interview with Juan Ramón Medrano, Novembre 6, 1996).[ #11 ]
Ironically, both the Convergencia's and the PD's long-term political future are seriously in question. The PD is unlikely to survive the municipal and legislative assembly elections scheduled for March of 1997. The Convergencia has never had a strong backing among Salvadoran migrants. Could this eloquent rhetoric therefore be the ramblings of political parties on the verge of collapse seeking any possible base of support? This is still to be seen.
In the United States, the end of the military conflict encouraged thousands of Salvadorans to organize hometown associations whose self-designated role has been to collect and deliver tangible and intangible resources to its members' town of origin. Fieldwork in Oriente confirmed the ubiquity of hometown associations and their incredible variability in terms of organizational structure. Among other things, they have been responsible for building roads, constructing day cares, maintaining health clinics, improving public parks, giving toys to orphans and wheelchairs to invalids, repairing churches, outfitting soccer teams, rebuilding town plazas, and sponsoring local Patron Saint festivals.
There are also endless variations on the basic structure of the Salvadoran hometown association. For instance, some associations are legally incorporated others are not; some have internal elections for president, secretary and treasurer while others may not even have formal posts for their members; some have a representative or even a sister organization in the town of origin through which resources are channeled, while others work directly with the local government, the Asociación de Desarollo Comunitario (ADESCO), or another institution such as the church; association's accounting system and the method by which cheques are authorized also varies. All of these factors determine the types of projects that a hometown association undertakes, how decisions are made about these projects, and most importantly the relationship between the association and different sectors of the local population.
The majority of hometown associations adamantly profess their political neutrality but a variety of factors necessarily catapult them into the realm of politics. Most important, hometown associations have the power to influence because they control significant resources. Also, while an association may be non-partisan programme, its members commonly have political affiliations which are known by everyone in the municipio. It is difficult not to know what positions people took during the civil war. Finally, associations become politicized since their presence in El Salvador and in Salvadoran settlements abroad incites local and transnational political responses from both municipal councils and the national goverment of El Salvador. Without detailing the character of every hometown association registered in Oriente, the data collected during the fieldwork is utilized here to demonstrate at least three different ways in which politics have interjected in the affairs of hometown assocations.
First, the relationship between the municipal government and the hometown assocation is a critical determinant in the politicization of the activities of an association, that is whether the members of the association and the municipality belong to the same political party. Interviews conducted in the municipios of Intipucá, Chinameca, and Santa Elena demonstrate how partisan politics play out in the hometown association. Surprisingly, although all the associations claim to be politically neutral, the interruption of politics in the affairs of the association was a topic of conversation that informants introduced without hesitation or prodding. Once engaged in the discussion, informants' conversation inevitably became emotional and heated. Informants reaction makes it hard to avoid thinking that partisan politics are very much a part of the life of hometown associations.
The Comite Pro-Mejoramiento de Intipucá was formed in the late 1980s by the most successful Salvadoran entrepreneurs of Washington, D.C. While the majority of its members support the ruling ARENA party, this had not been an issue until ARENA lost the mayoralty of Intipucá. Now that a Christian Democrat is in office, the infrastructural projects undertaken by the Comité have become bargaining chips in local politics. When interviewed about the projects undertaken by the Comité, which based on interviews undertaken in Washington, D.C. prior to fieldwork in El Salvador seemed to be of momentous proportions, the mayor launched into a tirade. He raved about political manipulations, theft, and corruption. He accused the association's president of using the resources of the Comité to finance the electoral campaign of the ARENA candidate for mayor. In this case, while the municipality was controlled by ARENA both the association and the mayor benefitted personally and institutionally. When the municipality was won by an opposition party, the association became hostile towards the mayor and turned its attention and resources to partisan politics.
Chinameca has three hometown associations in three U.S. cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Arlington. Each organization works independently on different community projects and has its own rather informal local representative. A member of the Comité de Residentes de Chinameca en Arlington who was in El Salvador was interviewed. She explained that she was withdrawing from the Comité because its leadership was corrupt. Although the Arlington Comité holds regular elections, it is apparently controlled by a single extended family of well known ARENA supporters. She mentioned two incidents that for her demonstrate the questionable ethics of the Comité. In 1994 the association built a children's playground in the town's central plaza. Shortly after its inauguration the ARENA mayor of Chinameca put up a plaque on a wall adjacent to the playground that read "This playground was constructed during the presidency of Calderon Sol". The plaque does not say that Calderon Sol built the playground, but the implication is too obvious to resist. The Comité also collected toys to be handed out to local children. The mayor of Chinameca handed these out personally, coincidentally, at his political rallies. In both cases although the Comité did not encourage the actions of the mayor it did nothing to discourage them and therefore allowed itself to be used for the political advancement of the local mayor and ARENA. In this case, the municipality and the association are political complements. Those, such as the informant, who are genuinely concerned with social rather than political affairs have lost out. Thus, as those who are willing to work with individuals with whom they do not agree politically are pushed aside or become disenchanted by political manipulations, the association inevitably becomes an openly partisan institution.
Finally, in Santa Elena, the president of the Comite General de Amigos de Santa Elena (CASE), the local chapter of the municipio's hometown assocation was interviewed. The president of CASE is an important member of the FMLN and one of its candidates in the upcoming elections. The municipal council of Santa Elena is controlled by ARENA. The CASE is currently raising funds for a multidisciplinary complex that will house sports facilities, offer skills training workshops, and a space for community events. CASE has already purchased the land for the project which is now under construction. During the interview, the president of CASE was asked whether they had requested government funds for the project. Apparently, not only has the association been denied government funds, but the municipality has been openly hostile towards the group.
According to the informant, the mayor of Santa Elena sees CASE as its political enemy. For instance, the comité was forced to spend money on the rental of heavy machinery to prepare the plot for construction because the mayor refused to grant CASE permission to use the municipio's equipment. The mayor has also attempted to compete with the CASE constructions. Since the CASE multidisciplinary complex includes basketball courts, the mayor has had basketball courts built in the town's central plaza. The mayor also attempted to bribe the United States's members of CASE. He promised to loan the group the municipio's equipment if the two members of CASE who work with the FMLN were kicked out of the group. The CASE membership is multipartidary and the association has maintained a semblance of political neutrality in the past. Many of its members do not want politics to interfere in their work. Nonetheless, the political competition between two members of a four city, one-hundred member strong organization and the mayor of the municipio have jeapordized the organization's work.
A second way in which hometown assocations are incorporated into the equation of municipal politics is by invitation. In 1994, President Calderon Sol launched a programme for the modernization and decentralization of the state apparatus. To date, decentralization has not translated into a shift in decision making power away from the central government towards the muncipios, nor a reallocation of funds to lower levels of government. Municipios are allocated only one percent of the national budget, and granted further funds on a case-by-case basis. This commonly results in the denial of funds for municipios that are not controlled by ARENA. Nonetheless, the rhetoric of decentralization has encouraged municipal leaders to seek independent sources of funding for local improvements. In particular, municipalities with high rates of migration are turning to paisanos abroad to organize associations that will fund local projects.
The mayor of La Unión has been working with two hometown associations based in four U.S. cities since the 1980s. Both of these comites are quite small and localized. They only fund projects for their respective cantons (a sub-division of the municipio) of origin. Following their example, the mayor of La Unión has set out to create a hometown assocation that will support projects for the entire municipio such as the reconstruction of the central plaza. As a participant in the USAID sponsored Municipalities in Action programme, the mayor was recently invited to attend a workshop in the United States. He took this opportunity to contact co-paisanos in Houston and Washington, D.C. whom he could mobilize to form an association. Invited to participate in local affairs by the mayor himself, it is hard to envision that this comité will not engage in local politics or at least be perceived as doing so by the population.
The third way in which hometown associations are politicized is through the relationship that the GOES has established with Salvadoran settlements in the United States. In 1989 the GOES recognized the need to breach the institutional distance that existed between government institutions and the transmigrant population. A specific programme was finally launcehd in 1994 as part of Calderon Sol's state modernization scheme. The full scope of this initiatve is discussed below. The dimension that pertains directly to hometown associations involves the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y el Arte (CONCULTURA). CONCULTURA is an agency that oversees the activities of the 115 Casas de la Cultura in EL Salvador. Its mission is to preserve and promote Salvadoran culture.
In an unprecendented move, the CONCULTURA, in conjunction with the L.A. branch of the Salvadoran Chamber of Commerce and the local consulate, opened a Casa de la Cultura in Los Angeles. Apart from offering a place where Salvadorans can 'get back to their roots', CONCULTURA has advertised itself among the dozens of hometown assocations based in Los Angeles as a space where they can meet and plan their activities. Its stated longterm goal is to encourage hometown associations to channel resources via the CONCULTURA in Los Angeles to the Casa de la Cultura in their municipio of origin. So far only the hometown association of Cacaopera has established a permanent presence in the L.A. Casa de la Cultura. The unstated goal of CONCULTURA appears to be an effort to compete with Comunidades, a non-partisan umbrella organization that has begun coordinating the multiple efforts of Salvadoran hometown assocations in Los Angeles. It is important to note that Comunidades mission statement emphasizes the non-partisan and secular nature of the organization but its first director, Roberto Lobato, was a well known FMLN representative. Again, partisan politics invade the sphere of activities of hometown associations.
This effort by CONCULTURA provides a glimpse into the political strategies being developed by the Salvadoran government that fall under the rubric of elite political transnationalism. The full package of initiatives includes legal services for Salvadorans seeking to regularize their status in the United States, social events such as picnics and art festivals, business meetings with successful Salvadoran entrepreneurs, regular visits by political representatives including the President himself, and a campaign to inform Salvadorans of their rights as citizens of El Salvador. These services clearly parallel the modes of engagement that were first established by the FMLN with the Salvadoran migrant population. In this sense, they can be gauged as an effort to tame what is believed to be a highly politicized population and to coopt grassroots links between migrant Salvadorans and their communities of origin.
The government's genteel posture towards this largely campesino migrant population reveals the paradoxical incongruence of elite transnationalism. Campesinos in El Salvador live in humiliating conditions of extreme poverty. Not only do they have no genuine voice in political affairs, they are hardly considered for special treatment. There is no incentive for hosting picnics in Morazán, Chalatenango or Cabañas. Likewise, transmigrant entrepreneurs in El Salvador are granted few incentives for economic participation, and are often shut out of loan programmes. Yet, their counterparts in the United States are invited to business luncheons with Salvadoran officials. Finally, community leaders in Salvadoran settlements in the United States, inspite of their current or past affiliation with FMLN, are treated with respect. Beyond the national borders, the ARENA government encourages a spirit of reconciliation and rapprochement between itself and a migrant population. Meanwhile, as the recent silencing of the director of the Corte Suprema Electoral, who was to have granted a faction of the Christian Democratic Party the right to form an election coalition with the FMLN for the candidacy of San Salvador suggests, politics in El Salvador continue to be shrouded in cuthroat unfair play. El Salvador's political elite appear to have made a tactical choice that grants transmigrant Salvadorans the substantive, as opposed to the formal, rights of citizenship that have been historically denied all Salvadorans.
The recent history of El Salvador demontrates how the transnationalization of politics plays out. Grassroots party politics and autonomous collective action elicit multiple responses on the part of the state. Though they are related, it is harder to draw general conclusions about the logic of political transnationalism than about economic transnationalism. Salvadoran political transnationalism does suggest that an essential determinant of the process is the historically established character of political engagement between elites and popular classes. In El Salvador a history of violent confrontation between the powerful and the powerless has produced a highly politicized social order. Consequently, a politics marked by animosity and distrust invade the transnational sphere. Yet, both hometown association's struggle for non-partisan participation in the social order and the cooptive strategies of elite transnationalism signal a possible change in this exclusionary tradition. Thus, regime-type shapes the initial character of political transnationalism, but transnationalization itself leads to a redefinition of the political realm.
Finally, the Salvadoran process of political transnationalization clearly cofirms a fundamental proposition of the transnationalism approach. Territorial boundedness is the essence of statehood since only the state can claim a monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory (Weber 1958:78). Transmigrant's binational condition, their simultaneous engagement in the nation-building process of their country of origin and reception, is significant because it deranges the established differentiation of states into "separate, fixed, mutually exclusive territorial spaces of legitimate dominion" (Arrighi 1994:80). The emergence of a transnational migrant social field shifts the terms of engagement between the state and its transmigrant-citizens. Whether or not transmigrants engage in purposive political action in their country of origin, they are an essential component of its nation-building process. Thus, the state engages in extra-territorial strategies of domination in order to reinscribe the transmigrant-citizen into the national project. Territorial boundedness, an inviolable principle of statehood, is therefore trespassed by the dialectics of political transnationalism.
The emergence of a transnational social space prompts economic and political activities and processes that rescript the boundaries of the national community. The nation must redefine the rights and responsibilities of citizenship as it engages with a population that lives beyond its territorial boundaries. Finally, transnationalization--the dialectical relationship between a transmigrant population and a national elite--can be seen as the mode of globalization of peripheral nations vested in migration. As such transnationalism rests on a fundamental paradox. Recall that globalization, that is the post-1970s logic of international capital, demands the hyper-mobility of capital and the immobility of labour. Yet the globalization strategies of peripheral countries such as El Salvador are initiated under circumstances that invalidate this proposition. El Salvador, like the Dominican Republic or Haiti, respond to the process of globalization with a consolidated migration network that insures the mobility of labour.
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#1* . Oriente is the region east of the River Lempa which contains four of the fourteen departments of El Salvador including La Unión, Morazán, San Miguel, and Usulután.
#2* . In the sixties, agricultural modernization caused a dramatic shift in land tenure. In 1961 11.8 percent of rural households were landless, by 1971 29.1 percent were landless and by 1975 the percent had increased to 40.9 (Hamilton and Chinchilla 1991:90)
#3* . In 1900 there were approximately 9,000 Central American immigrants in the United States. Due to the increased penetration of U.S. capital in the region, specifically in banana plantations, the figure increased to 17,000 by 1920 (Chinchilla and Hamilton 1995).
#4* . Me da cólera cuando pienso en el desperdicio de historia que están haciendo los cientos de miles de hermanos lejanos que emigraron...y cuya herencia no pasa de ventas de pickups y mal trastiados 'car watches'
#5* .In the 1970s the political situation in his hometown of Santa Ana forced CORPRIME's administrator to migrate to Los Angeles. He did not return to El Salvador until 1991 and the majority of his family and friends still live in California.
#6* .The Banco de Tierras (Land Bank) was formed in 1992 as part of the Chapultepec Accords distribute lands to ex-combatants.
#7* . Shortly after the signing of the Peace Accords, the Salvadoran shoe manufacturer, ADOC, shutdown and fired all of its workers in an effort to stave off the formation of a union at the company. ANEP publicly applauded ADOC's decision. ANEP also refused to participate in the cross-sectorial Foro de Concertación Económico which sought to oversee a post-peace dialogue between different economic sectors. It only joined the Foro when a vote was to be taken on reforming the labour code. ANEP's recalcitrance has also been blamed for the Foro's final demise. ANEP has also opposed any increases in the agricultural minimum wage.
#8* . Los sectors que aglutina ANEP son los perdedores en la competencia por el poder. ANEP representa al capital agroexportador e industrial que ha sido desplazado por el gran capital financiero y comercial
#9* . Persons interviewed included the FMLN's spokesperson for international relations, the left's presidential candidate for the 1994 elections, Rubén Zamora of the Convergencia Democrática (social democrats), FMLN and PD diputados in the legislative assembly, and persons in the Human Rights Ombudsman Office (Procuraduría de Derecho Humanos) working on migration issues.
#10* . El problema de la migración hay que ubicarlo como un problema central de la nación. No es solo un problema económico, sino también cultural, social y político. El fenómeno apunta a la necesidad de redefinir que es el pueblo salvadoreño, a una definición que incorpore al migrante
#11* . Si los migrantes estan mandando dinero y tienen un papel destacado en la macro-economía del país, también deberían tener un papel político aquí. A medida que ellos no tengan derecho a votar se les esta negando su justo derecho.