Thursday, February 19, 2009

Funds Sent to Guatemala by Immigrants Drops

The economic crisis in the U.S. has resulted in a decline in funds sent by Guatemalan immigrants in the U.S. to their families in Guatemala. That, plus the mass deportations have begun to have a negative effect on Guatemalan villages whose welfare depends almost exclusively on this revenue. That revenue could fall by 3.5 percent this year according to preliminary estimates from the Banco de Guatemala.

In 2008, 1.3 million Guatemalans living in the United States sent over U.S. $4 billion in remittances, which were invested by their families in housing construction and the opening of businesses.

Last year 27,875 Guatemalans were deported from U.S. territory. The impact of these evictions and the economic crisis and unemployment in the U.S. is being felt in Guatemalan communities.

In some communities, remittances from the United States has dropped 75 percent causing enormous hardship. For a family accustomed to receiving $400 a month from a relative in the United States, a drop to $100 a month is disastrous. Some have barely enough for food and clothing. In some communities abandoned buildings and half-finished constructon projects are clearly in evidence. The drop in construction activity also throws construction workers out of work and causes a ripple effect, hurting businesses that supply building materials.

According to economists, if the depression in the United States is a deep one it will have a strong negative effect on remittances sent to Guatemala.

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