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The effect of a pandemic on remittances is varied in Latin America


A balloon seller walks with some people in Parque México, on Saturday, August 29, 2020, in Mexico City, amid the coronavirus pandemic.


When the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed the United States economy, not all Latin American immigrants living in the North American nation were affected in the same way, according to an analysis published Monday of the money they sent home.

Although remittances were lower for Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in the first six months of 2020 compared to the same period of 2019, they increased for Mexico and the Dominican Republic, according to the analysis of central bank data carried out by the Center of Pew Investigations, based in Washington.

The six nations included in the analysis are the places of origin of approximately eight out of every 10 Latin American immigrants who live in the United States, and receive the majority of their remittances from the North American nation. All six countries had hit record highs for the money immigrants sent home in 2019, receiving $ 71.5 billion, according to the report.

Mexico stands out for a 10.6% increase in the money it received during the first six months of the year, despite the pandemic. At the other end of the spectrum is El Salvador, which registered an 8% decrease.

Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Global Migration Research and Demographics at the center, said there is probably no simple explanation for the discrepancy.

Mexico benefited from an exchange rate that causes the value of the dollar to rise while El Salvador uses the dollar as its currency. There are no major differences in the activities carried out by immigrants from both countries. Geography could be a factor: Salvadoran immigrants are concentrated in California, Texas and around Washington DC, while Mexicans are more settled in California, Texas, Georgia and throughout the north central region of the country, Lopez said. .

He also noted that a higher percentage of Mexican immigrants have lived in the United States for more than 16 years. Others have mentioned that the larger population of Mexicans living legally in the United States may have made them more resilient as the economy plunged.

On Monday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that money sent by Mexicans living in the United States would be a key factor in the country’s economic recovery.

“Despite the pandemic in the United States and also the collapse of the economy in the United States, remittances have grown, what our countrymen send to their families and that reaches 10 million families,” said the president.

The decrease in remittances sent to El Salvador, as well as Guatemala and Honduras, in the first six months of the year could mean that once the closure of the United States border implemented under health provisions is lifted, the high levels of immigration. Many families depend on the money they receive from their relatives to make ends meet.

In El Salvador and Honduras, remittances accounted for more than 20% of gross domestic product last year, according to the analysis.

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