Sending it back home – Social funding gap addressed

Mexican officials increasingly depend on charity from emigrants to fill Mexico’s gap in social spending, the Los Angeles Times reported on June 8.

An increasing number of emigrants are joining together into nonprofit clubs that funnel money to community projects in their hometowns. The number of hometown clubs has doubled in the last decade, to a total of about 1,500.

The state of Zacatecas, which has lost one-third of its population to emigration, receives an astounding $1 million in remittances a day — 166 percent more than the Mexican federal government spends there.

Zacatecan clubs in America have supported about 350 community projects since 1992. The state government boosts emigrant charity by offering matching government funds, a strategy that is spreading to other states.

Mexican officials are pushing clubs to invest not only in philanthropic programs but also in so-called proyectos productivos, projects that generate jobs.

Some say such projects will ultimately reduce emigration and make regions less dependent upon money sent from America. Proyectos productivos could also counteract some of the distorting effects – inflation, higher land prices – of remittance money, Pablo Serrano told the Times. Serrano is the head of social development at the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Mexican consulates across the U.S. encourage emigrants to form charitable clubs to support their hometowns, said Jose Antonio Larios, community affairs chief at the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles.

For full text, go to the Los Angeles Times.

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