Positive stories about Latin American immigrants and the United States are difficult to come by right now. But at least Pedro X. Molina and his family have found a happy ending.
Molina is an award-winning political cartoonist, whose scathing satire has been syndicated all across the world. Originally from Nicaragua, Molina was on staff at the Confidencial when their offices were raided and ransacked by police in December 2018. Like most dictatorial leaders, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega was none-too-pleased with the Confidencial for doing such terrible things as, well, reporting the truth about his brutal and inhumane actions—you know, like ordering a violent police raid on journalists who dared to criticize him.
The Confidencial staff immediately scattered and went into hiding, continuing to publish news remotely despite the risk. Molina and his family were able to make it all the way to the United States with the help of Ithaca City of Asylum (ICOA), a non-profit group that advocates for freedom of expression as part of the International City of Refuge Network (full disclosure: I'm on the board of ICOA). "Thanks to them, I'm safe, my family is safe, and despite everything that we have gone through, I haven't missed a single day of posting my daily cartoon denouncing what is happening in my country," Molina said tearfully at a community welcoming event in Ithaca, NY this past weekend.
Although the Molinas landed in New York state on tourist visas the day after Christmas, it still took a while to settle their official immigration statuses. While Molina continued to publish his cartoons during this limbo period, the actual location of he and his family was known only to a select group of people—even some of their family back in Nicaragua still didn't know where they were for almost nine months. But after a lengthy and expensive legal process, ICOA was able to secure residency for the entire family, along with a Visiting International Scholar in Residence position for Molina at Ithaca College. (To be clear, the immigration process in this country was labyrinthine and abstruse well before the current administration, too.)
"You can see the trend here: the more ridiculous, abusive and corrupt a politician is, the more they hate humor and criticism," Molina said during a presentation at his welcoming party. Now why does that sound familiar?
Turkish cartoonist @MusaKart has been released from prison but situation for independent press in Turkey continue to be very dangerous which means that at any time he or any other journalist could be put in jail again for doing their job. #SOSJOURNALISM #SOSCARTOONING pic.twitter.com/mw0g3inJCg
— pxmolina (@pxmolina) September 18, 2019
#Nicaragua Nicas asesinados a diario, a balazos, decapitados, ahogados… hombres, mujeres, niños, víctimas directas o indirectas de una dictadura cuyo ÚNICO interés es mantenerse en el poder, mientras el ? se toma todo el tiempo que le falta a los afectados… #SOSNICARAGUA pic.twitter.com/qHzXyd8hoS
— pxmolina (@pxmolina) September 14, 2019
Si querés ser un crítico POPULAR volale verga a los fanáticos, autoritarios, hipócritas y desalmados de derecha, si querés ser un BUEN crítico volale a TODOS. Te faltarán loas, pero te sobrará conciencia. pic.twitter.com/t7oRTcU3Rg
— pxmolina (@pxmolina) September 7, 2019