A Nation in the Cloud: the impact of the Puerto Rican transnationals and diasporas on US markets
Imagine what it would be like to live in the cloud. You could be here one day, someplace else the next, you could travel all over the world and back again in an instant. You could be with all your friends and family at the same time. You could live without borders. Well, in a way Puerto Ricans live in this cloud, a digital cloud that breaks barriers.
The year is 1940, The harsh economic climate of the island led to what would soon be known as The Great Puerto Rican Immigration. Eventually so many Puerto Ricans migrated to the U.S. that they surpassed Cubans as the main Caribbean group in the country and are now the largest latino group second only to Mexicans.
According to a 2012 Pew Study, there are 3.6 million Puerto Ricans living in Puerto Rico and even more 4.9 million, living in the US mainland. Just between 2010 & 2014 registered over 48,000 migrants, making this a very recent diaspora. The migration has been relentless ever since.
In 1994 writer Luis Rafael Sánchez coined the term “The flying bus” describing a nation on the move, a nation that practically lived travelling to and from the mainland of the U.S. Pretty soon anyone moving to the United States was said to “irse pa’ afuera” or go outside, a clever way to describe the informal fashion of the migratory movement, almost as if they were just going to their own backyard. Instead of being permanent settlers or immigrants, these migrants still keep a close connection to their homeland through digital devices, or the cloud. These “cloud dwellers” are known as Transnationals.
Why are Puerto Ricans transnationals?
Of course, feel a strong cultural link to their homeland. They rarely say “I am Puerto Rican American.” and resist becoming another ethnic minority such as Latino or Hispanic. Instead, they proudly state “I am 100% Puerto Rican” Regardless of their political ideology, Puerto Ricans on the island and the mainland see themselves as one distinct Puerto Rican nation. But being transnational is more than that. It implies a blurring of borders. On a day to day basis, it means being here and there at the same time. For example, a house wife living in Connecticut might still have the same cellphone number she had in Puerto Rico. Or a professor in Boston might get his morning news from El nuevo día in its online version.
In many ways Puerto Rican transnationals have never left the Island. Digital media keeps intensifying and now, instead of recreating the Puerto Rican experience in their new neighbourhoods, transnationals can to live the real thing in real time. Things have changed since the mid century diáspora:
Then: “Let’s go to a salsa club in the Bronx”
Now: “Let’s stream Marc Anthony’s concert from the Choliseo de Puerto Rico.”
Then: “Let’s listen to a latin radio station here in Philly”
Now: “Let’s listen to El Circo de la Mega online”
Then: “Let’s watch hispanic TV”
Now: “Let’s watch Puerto Rican TV”
Then: “Let’s read our local latin newspaper, written and printed here in the U.S”
Now: “Let’s read Puerto Rico’s headlines from my computer at elnuevodia.com”
Then: “Let me call my mom to see what’s happening back in the Island”
Now: “I already know! I have twitter”
And thus is life for Puerto Rican transnationals. They live in New York, the east coast, Chicago and now in southern states such as Florida, more scattered than other Caribbean and Latin American diasporas. And because they are so connected to their homeland, they become harder to reach with traditional U.S. Hispanic media.
On the other hand, Island media outlets still keep providing content to Puerto Ricans in the U.S. A channel like Wapa América has 5.5+ million subscribers in the Mainland. Radio morning programs such as el Circo and online newspapers such as “El Nuevo Día” have a huge transnational fan base outside the island/
They have mobility, citizenship and technology. They upload and download themselves to the Island and back every day. And there’s one place they come together to share their stories, their lives their culture, their love, their heartbreak and their history. You can find them: The Nation in the Cloud.