Saturday, May 24, 2003
Manuelito Juarez, a strong-minded boy of 5, wants burgers for dinner. But his brother Osberto lobbies for "the chicken place." They bicker and balk until their father intervenes and tells them to arm-wrestle. The winner gets to choose.
It is the most ordinary of squabbles except for a few things: The boys are in Guatemala City, their father is in San Francisco, and they're in the middle of a videoconference.
"People don't believe it's real," said Gabriel Biguria, whose company, AmigoLatino, had arranged the session. "It's like something out of a science fiction movie."
Although videoconferencing has been around since the mid-'70s, mostly in corporate boardrooms, it's a new medium for immigrants and those they left behind -- especially in Latin America, where many families lack phones or computers. Businesses like Biguria's also have surfaced recently in New Jersey, Florida and North Carolina.
"With more and more transnational families, this is going to happen more often," said Belinda Reyes, a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank in San Francisco. "It's just a reflection of globalism."
To read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2003/05/24/MN115382.DTL&type=printable