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Sat Dec 12, 2015, 02:34 PM

Social media helps drive historic Cuban exodus to U.S.

Social media helps drive historic Cuban exodus to U.S.

Originally published December 12, 2015 at 8:00 am | Updated December 11, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Cheap smartphones, data plans and Facebook allow Cubans headed to the United States avoid corrupt border guards, criminal gangs and human traffickers who make life hell for so many other Latin American migrants.


The Associated Press

PE—AS BLANCAS, Costa Rica ó As summer began to bake the central Cuban city of Sancti Spiritus, Elio Alvarez and Lideisy Hernandez sold their tiny apartment and everything in it for $5,000 and joined the largest migration from their homeland in decades.

Buying two smartphones for $160 apiece on a layover on their way to Ecuador, they plugged themselves into a highly organized, well-funded and increasingly successful home-brewed effort to make human traffickers obsolete by using smartphones and messaging apps on much of the 3,400-mile overland journey thatís become Cubansí main route to the U.S.

Some 45,000 Cubans are expected to move by bus, boat, taxi and on foot from Ecuador and other South and Central American countries to the Texas and California borders this year, afraid that the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba will mean an imminent end to special immigration privileges that date to the opening of t0he Cold War.

. . .

The overland exodus has caused a border crisis in Central America, set off tensions in the newly friendly U.S.-Cuban relationship and sparked rising calls in the U.S. to end Cubansí automatic right to legal residency once they touch U.S. soil.


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