Those who live outside their country of origin – whether as refugees, for economic reasons or simply to pursue new opportunities – were in many ways the most important story of 2016, a tumultuous year by any standard. Here in Costa Rica, thousands of migrants from Cuba, Haiti and Africa caused regional controversy and challenged the government to find solutions. In the United States and Europe, anti-immigrant sentiment showed itself in new and disturbing ways. Around the world, the heartbreaking plight of millions of migrants and fierce debate over their treatment consumed many of us. Those who believe passionately in the value of immigration, or who are migrants ourselves, may have felt called to a new mission: to speak out on behalf of immigration or to share stories of its positive impact on our communities.
For The Tico Times, that mission is long-standing. Since 1956, this Costa Rican newspaper has told Costa Rican stories of all kinds, but it’s always had a special focus on and affection for the stories of the country’s international families. Our print and digital archives are chock full of them: from the groundbreaking couple behind the papers’ founding, to an inspiring Holocaust survivor, to the Alabama-born “First Lady of the Revolution,” to waves upon waves of entrepreneurs, artists, public servants, academics, and civic leaders in every field who have chosen Costa Rica as their adopted community.
There are far too many to count, with an impact far too rich to measure. From Monteverde to San Vito to Limón, from your local Farmacia Fischel to the Edificio Steinvorth, from the smallest barrios to Casa Presidencial, Costa Rica’s history of immigration is everywhere.
In an international climate where xenophobia appears to be gaining momentum – and after a year that taught us no country should consider itself immune to virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric – we at The Tico Times feel that our mission of celebrating and recognizing those stories is increasingly important. We may be a small news organization in a small (and extraordinary) nation, but we are proud to do all we can, to poner nuestro granito de arena in support of diversity, intercultural understanding, and international friendship. It’s been our bread and butter for 60 years, and it might just be more important than ever in 2017.
So as this new year begins, we are renewing our commitment to that mission in a number of ways:
- Today, we are proud to share with you “There’s No Such Thing as a Pure Costa Rican.” It’s a special report on the history of Costa Rican immigration prepared by Gloriana Pacheco as part of the Punto y Aparte project, a mentoring program for young journalists that is an initiative of the Institute for the Press and Freedom of Expression (IPLEX). Our managing editor Katherine Stanley was proud to serve as Gloriana’s mentor alongside award-winning journalist Any Pérez, and we hope you’ll read, watch and enjoy the resulting report, full of stories from historians, genealogists, immigrants to Costa Rica and their descendants – from the President of the Republic, to musicians and writers, to a marvelous La Carpio activist.
- We invite our readers to share their own stories of immigration to Costa Rica by recording a video and posting it on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #SoyMigranteCR so we can find it and share. Please see today’s special report for many examples. (Yes, the hashtag is in Spanish, as is a version of Gloriana’s report published tomorrow, in an attempt to involve both English- and Spanish-speaking readers in this effort. We also invite personal stories in other languages.)
- Next week, we’ll launch our new series “The World in Costa Rica,” featuring profiles of foreign-born residents of Costa Rica.
- We plan to launch a similar series to tell the stories of Costa Ricans living outside the country and doing extraordinary things for their adopted countries.
Throughout this endeavor, we want your input. What are your favorite cross-border Costa Rican stories? How did you or your family come to hitch your wagon to this beautiful country? Which Costa Ricans far from home should we profile? We hope many of you will share with us your stories, comments and suggestions for the series described above.
We wish for you in 2017 what we at The Tico Times plan to seek out and share as much as we can: hope, learning, understanding, diversity and pura vida.
Read “There’s No Such Thing as a Pure Costa Rican” here.