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Sidestepping the State: Practices of Social Service Commodification among Nicaraguans in Costa Rica and Nicaragua

  • CAITLIN E. FOURATT and KOEN VOOREND
Abstract

In Costa Rica, there is a widespread belief among the public and policymakers that the country's ‘exceptional’ universal healthcare system represents a magnet for Nicaraguan immigrants. However, examining immigrants’ actual access to social policy demonstrates the importance of legal and extra-legal mechanisms of exclusion that go hand in hand with official recognition of human rights. This paper critically assesses the relationship between migrants and the state, and public social policy in particular, in both sending and receiving country. We analyse the extent to which Nicaraguan migrant families on both sides of the Costa Rica–Nicaragua migration system incorporate public social protection in their welfare strategies. Drawing on two sets of qualitative data, we find that, on both sides of the border, migrants and their families display very similar commodified practices of welfare strategies, side-stepping the state and purchasing services in the private sector.

En Costa Rica existe la creencia generalizada entre el público y los diseñadores de políticas de que el sistema de salud universal ‘excepcional’ del país representa un imán para los migrantes nicaragüenses. Sin embargo, cuando se examina el acceso real a las políticas sociales se demuestra la importancia de los mecanismos de exclusión legal y extralegal que van de la mano con el reconocimiento oficial de los derechos humanos. Este artículo evalúa críticamente la relación entre migrantes y el estado, especialmente las políticas sociales públicas, tanto en el país de origen como en el de destino. Analizamos el grado en que las familias migrantes nicaragüenses en ambos lados del sistema migratorio Costa Rica–Nicaragua incorporan la protección social pública dentro de sus estrategias de bienestar. A partir de datos cualitativos de dos fuentes, encontramos que en ambos lados de la frontera los migrantes y sus familias muestran prácticas mercantiles de bienestar muy similares, basadas en circunvenir al estado y comprar servicios al sector privado.

Na Costa Rica há uma crença generalizada entre público e decisores políticos de que o ‘excepcional’ sistema universal de saúde do país age como um ímã para imigrantes da Nicarágua. No entanto, ao examinar o acesso que os imigrantes realmente têm às políticas sociais, revela-se a importância de mecanismos de exclusão legais e extralegais paralelos ao reconhecimento oficial dos direitos humanos. Este artigo avalia de maneira crítica a relação entre migrantes e o Estado, em particular no que diz respeito à política pública social, em ambos os países recebendo e enviando migrantes. Analisamos o quanto famílias Nicaraguenses nos dois lados do sistema de migração Costa Rica–Nicarágua incorporam proteção pública social em suas estratégias de bem-estar. Baseando-nos em duas fontes de dados qualitativos, descobrimos que em ambos os lados da fronteira, migrantes e suas famílias demonstram práticas mercantilizadas muito similares de estratégias de bem-estar, evitando o estado e adquirindo serviços diretamente do setor privado.

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References
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1 Bonilla-Carrión, Roger, ‘Seguro social y usos de servicios de salud entre personas nicaragüenses en Costa Rica’, in Sandoval, Carlos (ed.), El mito roto: Inmigración y emigración en Costa Rica (San José: Editorial Universidad de Costa Rica, 2007), pp. 145–60.

2 Ibid.; Solís, Pedro J., ‘El fenómeno de la xenofobia en Costa Rica desde una perspectiva histórica’, Revista de Filosofía de La Universidad de Costa Rica, 47: 120–1 (2010), pp. 92–7.

3 Voorend, Koen and Bermúdez, Karla Venegas, ‘Tras de cuernos, palos. Percepciones sobre Costa Rica como imán de bienestar en la crisis del seguro social’, Revista de Ciencias Sociales, 145 (2014), pp. 1333.

4 Franzoni, Juliana Martínez and Voorend, Koen, ‘The Limits of Family and Community Care: Challenges for Public Policy in Nicaragua’, in Razavi, Shahra and Staab, Silke (eds.), Global Variations in the Political and Social Economy of Care: Worlds Apart, vol. 8 (London: Routledge, 2012), pp. 122–40.

5 Fouratt, Caitlin, ‘“Those Who Come to Do Harm”: The Framing of Immigration Problems in Costa Rican Immigration Law’, International Migration Review, 48: 1 (2014), pp. 144–80; Fouratt, Caitlin, ‘Temporary Measures: The Production of Illegality in Costa Rican Immigration Law’, PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 39: 1 (2016), pp. 144–60; Voorend, Koen, ‘“Shifting In” State Sovereignty: Social Policy and Migration Control in Costa Rica’, Transnational Social Review, 4: 2–3 (2014), pp. 207–25; García, Carlos Sandoval, ‘Contestar la hostilidad antiinmigrante en Costa Rica. Un proyecto de ciencias sociales públicas en curso’, in González, Miren Llona (ed.), Entreverse: Teoría y metodología práctica de las fuentes orales (Bilbao: Universidad del País Vasco, Servicio de Publicaciones, 2012), pp. 217–40, available at https://investiga.uned.ac.cr/cicde/images/entreverse.pdf (last access 30 Aug. 2017).

6 The words of focus-group participants and interviewees are translated from Spanish into English by the authors, using pseudonyms to ensure their anonymity.

7 Bonilla-Carrión, ‘Seguro social y usos de servicios de salud’.

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12 Guiraudon, Virginie and Lahav, Gallya, ‘A Reappraisal of the State Sovereignty Debate: The Case of Migration Control’, Comparative Political Studies, 33: 2 (2000), p. 164.

13 Sassen, Saskia, Losing Control?: Sovereignty in the Age of Globalization (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), p. 95.

14 Quotation from Guiraudon and Lahav, ‘A Reappraisal of the State Sovereignty Debate’, p. 164; see also Sharma, ‘Introduction: Rethinking Theories of the State in an Age of Globalization’; Soysal, Limits of Citizenship.

15 Banting, ‘Looking in Three Directions’; Hollifield, ‘Immigration and the Politics of Rights’; Sainsbury, ‘Immigrants’ Social Rights in Comparative Perspective’; Guiraudon and Lahav, ‘A Reappraisal of the State Sovereignty Debate’.

16 Joppke, Christian, ‘Transformation of Citizenship: Status, Rights, Identity’, Citizenship Studies, 11: 1 (1 Feb. 2007), pp. 3748.

17 Guiraudon and Lahav, ‘A Reappraisal of the State Sovereignty Debate’.

18 Kalir, Barak, ‘Moving Subjects, Stagnant Paradigms: Can the “Mobilities Paradigm” Transcend Methodological Nationalism?’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 39: 2 (2013), pp. 311–27; Agustín, Laura Ma, ‘Forget Victimization: Granting Agency to Migrants’, Development, 46: 3 (2003), pp. 30–6; Kyle, David and Siracusa, Christina A., ‘Seeing the State like a Migrant. Why so Many Non-Criminals Break Immigration Laws’, in van Schendel, Willem and Abraham, Itty (eds.), Illicit Flows and Criminal Things: States, Borders, and the Other Side of Globalization (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2005), pp. 153–76.

19 De Genova, Nicholas, ‘Migrant “Illegality” and Deportability in Everyday Life’, Annual Review of Anthropology, 31 (2002), pp. 419–47; Gonzales, Roberto G. and Chavez, Leo R., ‘“Awakening to a Nightmare”: Abjectivity and Illegality in the Lives of Undocumented 1.5-Generation Latino Immigrants in the United States’, Current Anthropology, 53: 3 (2012), pp. 255–81; McIlwaine, Cathy, ‘Legal Latins: Creating Webs and Practices of Immigration Status among Latin American Migrants in London’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 41: 3 (2015), pp. 493511; Willen, Sarah S., ‘Toward a Critical Phenomenology of “Illegality”: State, Power, Criminalization, and Abjectivity among Undocumented Migrant Workers in Tel Aviv, Israel’, International Migration, 43 (2007), pp. 838.

20 Walters, William et al. , The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010).

21 Thomas, F. and Gideon, Jasmine (eds.), Migration, Health and Inequality (London: Zed Books, 2013).

22 Soysal, Limits of Citizenship, p. 134.

23 Fouratt, ‘Those Who Come to Do Harm’; Fouratt, ‘Temporary Measures’; Voorend and Venegas Bermúdez, ‘Tras de cuernos, palos’; Sandoval García, ‘Contestar la hostilidad antiinmigrante en Costa Rica’.

24 Mauricio Lopez, ‘The Incorporation of Nicaraguan Temporary Migrants into Costa Rica's Healthcare System: An Opportunity for Social Equity?’, PhD. dissertation, University of Windsor, 2012, available at http://scholar.uwindsor.ca/etd/502/ (last access 10 Aug. 2017).

25 Ibid.; Dobles, I., Vargas, G. and Amador, K., Inmigración: Psicología, identidades y políticas públicas. La experiencia nicaragüense y colombiana en Costa Rica (San José: Editorial Universidad de Costa Rica, 2014). ‘Regular migratory status’ means ‘legal migratory status’ (officially approved by the Migration Department); we prefer the terms ‘regular/ise’ to ‘legal/ise’ because of the negative connotations of ‘legal/illegal’ and because ‘regular/ise’ is used in the policy language and is thus more accurate.

26 Faist, Thomas, ‘Immigration, Integration and the Ethnicization of Politics’, European Journal of Political Research, 25: 4 (1994), pp. 439–59; Pribble, J., ‘The Politics of Building Municipal Institutional Effectiveness in Chile’, Latin American Politics and Society, 57: 3 (2015), pp. 100–21; Sainsbury, ‘Immigrants’ Social Rights in Comparative Perspective’.

27 Fouratt, ‘Those Who Come to Do Harm’; Kron, Stefanie, ‘Gestión migratoria en Norte y Centroamérica: Manifestaciones y contestaciones’, Anuario de Estudios Centroamericanos, 37 (2011), pp. 5385; Sandoval García, ‘Contestar la hostilidad antiinmigrante en Costa Rica’.

28 Lopez, ‘The Incorporation of Nicaraguan Temporary Migrants into Costa Rica's Healthcare System’.

29 Goldade, Kathryn, ‘“Health Is Hard Here” or “Health for All”?’, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 23: 4 (2009), pp. 483503; Santos, Sara Leon Spesny Dos, ‘Undeserving Mothers? Shifting Rationalities in the Maternal Healthcare of Undocumented Nicaraguan Migrants in Costa Rica’, Anthropology and Medicine, 22: 2 (2015), pp. 191201.

30 Bonilla-Carrión, ‘Seguro social y usos de servicios de salud’; Castillo, J., ‘Características de la atención de los extranjeros en los servicios de salud de la Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social 1997–2002’, in Presidencia Ejecutiva, Dirección Actuarial y de Planificación Económica (San José: CCSS, 2003).

31 Devesh Kapur, ‘Remittances: The New Development Mantra?’, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) (New York and Geneva: UNCTAD, 2004), available at http://unctad.org/en/Docs/gdsmdpbg2420045_en.pdf (last access 26 Aug. 2017); Castles, Stephen, de Haas, Hein and Miller, Mark J., The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World (New York and London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

32 Grabel, I., ‘Remittances, Political Economy and Economic Development in Migration in a Globalising World’, DevelopmentISSues, 11: 2 (2009), p. 16.

33 Ibid., p. 17.

34 Hernandez, Ester and Coutin, Susan Bibler, ‘Remitting Subjects: Migrants, Money and States’, Economy and Society, 35 (2006), p. 198.

35 United Nations, International Migration Wallchart (New York: Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, 2015), available at http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/publications/wallchart/docs/MigrationWallChart2015.pdf (last access 10 Aug. 2017).

36 Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas y Censos (INEC), X censo nacional de población y VI de vivienda 2011: Resultados generales (San José: INEC, 2011); Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos de Argentina (INDEC), Censo nacional de población, hogares y viviendas 2010 (Buenos Aires: INDEC, 2010); Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas de Chile (INE), XVIII censo nacional de población y VII de vivienda o censo de población y vivienda 2012 (Santiago: INE, 2012).

37 INEC, VIII censo nacional de población, Costa Rica 1984 (San José: INEC, 1984); INEC, IX censo nacional de población, 2000 (San José: INEC, 2001). While Costa Rica is a net-immigration country, this should not hide the fact that it also has significant migration outflows, especially to the United States. See, for example, Morúa, Carmen Caamaño, Entre ‘Arriba’ y ‘Abajo’. La experiencia transnacional de la migración de costarricenses hacia Estados Unidos (San José: Editorial Universidad de Costa Rica, 2011).

38 INEC, IX censo nacional de población, 2000; INEC, X censo nacional de población y VI de vivienda 2011.

39 Baumeister, Eduardo, Fernández, Edgar and Acuña, Guillermo, Estudio sobre las migraciones regionales de los nicaragüenses (Guatemala City: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 2008).

40 INEC, X censo nacional de población y VI de vivienda 2011. However, this figure does not include the entirety of an unknown share of irregular migrants who are active in informal labour markets.

41 Morales, Abelardo and Castro, Carlos, Migración, empleo y pobreza (San José: FLACSO Costa Rica, 2006), p. 44; Sandoval (ed.), El mito roto.

42 Voorend, Koen and Rivera, Francisco Robles, Migrando en la crisis. La fuerza de trabajo inmigrante en la economía costarricense (San José: IOM/MTSS, 2011).

43 Sandoval (ed.), El mito roto.

44 García, Sandoval, ‘Contestar la hostilidad antiinmigrante en Costa Rica’; González, H. and Mejía, Gabriela Isabel Horbaty, Nicaragua y Costa Rica: Migrantes enfrentan percepciones y políticas migratorias (San José: Migración Intrafronteriza en América Central, Perspectivas Regionales, 2005), available at http://ccp.ucr.ac.cr/noticias/migraif/pdf/horbaty.pdf (last access 10 Aug. 2017); Campos, Anyelick and Tristán, Larissa, Nicaragüenses en las noticias. Textos, contextos y audiencias (San José: Editorial Universidad de Costa Rica, 2009); Solís, ‘El fenómeno de la xenofobia en Costa Rica’.

45 Sandoval-García, Carlos, Threatening Others: Nicaraguans and the Formation of National Identities in Costa Rica (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2004); available in Spanish: Sandoval, Carlos, Otros amenazantes. Los nicaragüenses y la formación de identidades nacionales en Costa Rica, 1st edn (San José: Editorial Universidad de Costa Rica, 2002).

46 IDESPO, UNFPA, and Foro Permanente sobre Población Migrante, Memoria final, mesa redonda: La población migrante en Costa Rica y su tratamiento en los medios de comunicación (Heredia: IDESPO, 2000); Nowalski, Jorge and Barahona, Manuel, Asimetrías económicas, sociales y políticas en Costa Rica: Hacia una calidad de vida digna (San José: PNUD, CIDH, 2003).

47 Sandoval-García, Threatening Others, p. 444.

48 Sandoval García, ‘Contestar la hostilidad antiinmigrante en Costa Rica’.

49 Dobles, Vargas and Amador, Inmigración; Goldade, ‘Health Is Hard Here’.

50 Babb, Florence E., ‘From Cooperatives to Microenterprises: The Neoliberal Turn in Postrevolutionary Nicaragua’, in Phillips, Lynne (ed.), The Third Wave of Modernization in Latin America: Cultural Perspectives on Neoliberalism (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1998), pp. 109–22; Mendieta, Francisco Javier Mojica, Acciones del Estado costarricense para enfrentar la demanda de servicios de salud, educación y vivienda de población nicaragüense en Costa Rica (Heredia: IDESPO/Universidad Nacional, 2003).

51 Nowalski, Jorge, Asimetrías económicas, laborales y sociales en Centroamérica: Desafíos y oportunidades (San José: FLACSO, 2002).

52 Baumeister, Eduardo, Migración internacional y desarrollo en Nicaragua, Series ‘Población y Desarrollo’, 67 (Santiago: CEPAL, 2006).

53 Monge-González, Ricardo, Céspedes-Torres, Oswald and Vargas-Aguilar, Juan Carlos, South–South Remittances: The Costa Rica–Nicaragua Corridor (San José: Inter-American Development Bank, January 2011), available at http://publications.iadb.org/handle/11319/5430 (last access 10 Aug. 2017).

54 Fouratt, ‘Those Who Come to Do Harm’; Fouratt, ‘Temporary Measures’; Voorend, K., ¿Universal o excluyente? Derechos sociales y control migratorio interno en Costa Rica (Buenos Aires: CLACSO, 2013); Voorend, ‘“Shifting In” State Sovereignty’.

55 Noy, Shiri and Voorend, Koen, ‘Social Rights and Migrant Realities: Migration Policy Reform and Migrants’ Access to Health Care in Costa Rica, Argentina, and Chile’, Journal of International Migration and Integration, 17: 2 (2016), pp. 605–29; Voorend, ‘“Shifting In” State Sovereignty’.

56 Fouratt, ‘Those Who Come to Do Harm’; Kron, ‘Gestión migratoria en Norte y Centroamérica’.

57 Voorend, ‘“Shifting In” State Sovereignty’.

58 Fouratt, ‘Those Who Come to Do Harm’; Voorend, ‘“Shifting In” State Sovereignty’.

59 Fouratt, ‘Those Who Come to Do Harm’; Fouratt, ‘Temporary Measures’; Voorend, ‘“Shifting In” State Sovereignty’.

60 Franzoni, Juliana Martínez and Voorend, Koen, ‘Who Cares in Nicaragua? A Care Regime in an Exclusionary Social Policy Context’, Development and Change, 42: 4 (2011), pp. 9951022.

61 Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), CEPALSTAT Databases and Statistical Publications (Santiago, Chile: ECLAC, 2015), available at http://estadisticas.cepal.org/cepalstat/WEB_CEPALSTAT/estadisticasIndicadores.asp?idioma=i (last access 27 Aug. 2017).

62 Juliana Martínez Franzoni and Koen Voorend, Veinticinco años de cuidados en Nicaragua 1980–2005: Poco estado, poco mercado, mucho trabajo no remunerado (Geneva: UNRISD with United Nations Development Programme [UNDP] and Centro de Investigación y Estudios Políticos [CIEP], Universidad de Costa Rica, 2012); Martínez Franzoni and Voorend, ‘The Limits of Family and Community Care’.

63 UNDP, Human Development Report 2015. Work for Human Development (New York: UNDP, 2015).

64 Banco Central de Nicaragua (BCN), Informe de Remesas Familiares. I Trimestre 2017 (Managua: BCN, División Económica, 2017), available at http://www.bcn.gob.ni/publicaciones/periodicidad/trimestral/remesas/Remesas_1.pdf (last access 27 Aug. 2017).

65 Martínez Franzoni and Voorend, ‘Who Cares in Nicaragua?’

66 Diana, focus-group discussion, Pavas, 3 May 2014.

67 Mariela, interview, Río Azul, 24 April 2012.

68 Voorend, ‘“Shifting In” State Sovereignty’.

69 Pedro, focus-group discussion, Alajuelita, 26 Jan. 2014.

70 Isabel, focus-group discussion, Pavas, 3 May 2014.

71 Sofía, focus-group discussion, Alajuelita, 26 Jan. 2014. In 2012 100 córdobas were worth approx. US$5; 58,000 colones were worth approx. US$114.

72 Fouratt, ‘Temporary Measures’.

73 Yolanda, interview, Río Azul, 14 Feb. 2012.

74 Fouratt, ‘Those Who Come to Do Harm’; Fouratt, ‘Temporary Measures’.

75 Juliana, focus-group discussion, Pavas, 3 May 2014.

76 Carmen, focus-group discussion, Alajuelita, 26 Jan. 2014.

77 Isabel, focus-group discussion, Pavas, 3 May 2014.

78 Mariela, interview, Río Azul, 24 April 2012.

79 Karla, focus-group discussion, San Ramón, 30 Oct. 2014.

80 Graciela, focus-group discussion, San Ramón, 30 Oct. 2014.

81 Luz, focus-group discussion, Alajuelita, 26 Jan. 2014.

82 Ruth, interview, Río Azul, 10 April 2012.

83 Karina, focus-group discussion, Pavas, 20 Aug. 2014.

84 Spesny Dos Santos, ‘Undeserving Mothers?’, p. 195.

85 María, focus-group discussion, San Sebastián, 7 Aug. 2014.

86 Sofía, focus-group discussion, Alajuelita, 26 Jan. 2014.

87 Pablo, focus-group discussion, Alajuelita, 26 Jan. 2014.

88 Martha, focus-group discussion, Alajuelita, 26 Jan. 2014.

89 Dora, focus-group discussion, Pavas, 20 Aug. 2014.

90 Xinia, focus-group discussion, Pavas, 20 Aug. 2014.

91 Carlos, focus-group discussion, San Sebastián, 7 Aug. 2014.

92 Stefani, focus-group discussion, San Sebastián, 7 Aug. 2014.

93 Isabel, focus-group discussion, Pavas, 3 May 2014.

94 Fabian, focus-group discussion, Carrillo, 18 Oct. 2014.

95 Isabel, focus-group discussion, Pavas, 3 May 2014.

96 Rafaela, interview, Sabanilla, 14 Nov. 2011.

97 Ignacio, focus-group discussion, San Sebastián, 7 Aug. 2014.

98 Stoll, David, El Norte or Bust! How Migration Fever and Microcredit Produced a Financial Crash in a Latin American Town (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2012); Miles, Ann, From Cuenca to Queens: An Anthropological Story of Transnational Migration (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2010); Mahler, Sarah J., American Dreaming: Immigrant Life on the Margins (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995).

99 Kenneth, interview, Granada, 13 June 2012.

100 Marina, interview, Managua, 1 Sept. 2012.

101 Esther, interview, Managua, 17 July 2012.

102 Denizens are people who are citizens of another country with a legal and permanent resident status in their adopted country: Hammar, T., Democracy and the Nation State. Aliens, Denizens and Citizens in a World of International Migration (Aldershot: Avebury, 1990).

103 Dobles, Vargas and Amador, Inmigración; Juliana Martínez Franzoni, La seguridad social en Costa Rica: Percepciones y experiencias de quienes menos tienen y más la necesitan (Washington, DC: Unidad para la Igualdad de Género en el Desarrollo and Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo), available at http://services.iadb.org/wmsfiles/products/Publications/882713.pdf (last access 27 Aug. 2017); Franzoni, Juliana Martínez and Ancochea, Diego Sánchez, Good Jobs and Social Services: How Costa Rica Achieved the Elusive Double Incorporation (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

* The research for this project was supported in part by the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Irvine, a Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, and an Institute of International Education Graduate Fellowship for International Study. Koen Voorend gratefully acknowledges the support given by the ZEIT Stiftung's Settling into Motion Program, of which he was a fellow between 2012 and 2015. Both authors would also like to thank Diego Sánchez-Ancochea for a critical reading of and extremely useful feedback to a previous version of the manuscript.

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