Money Trickles North as Mexicans Help Relatives

Marc Lacey, New York Times, November 16, 2009

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Unemployment has hit migrant communities in the United States so hard that a startling new phenomenon has been detected: instead of receiving remittances from relatives in the richest country on earth, some down-and-out Mexican families are scraping together what they can to support their unemployed loved ones in the United States.

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Statistics measuring the extent of what experts are calling reverse remittances are hard to come by. But interviews in Mexico with government officials, money-transfer operators, immigration experts and relatives of out-of-work migrants show that a transaction that was rarely noticed before appears to be on the rise.

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“I’d say every month 50,000 pesos are sent from here to there,” said Edith Ramírez Gonzalez, a sales executive at Banco Azteca in San Cristóbal de las Casas [in Chiapas]. “And from there, we’d receive about 30,000 pesos.” Fifty thousand pesos is $3,840.

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