In central America, the pandemic dried up the remittances of the emigrants

En Amérique centrale, la pandémie tarit les envois d’argent des émigrés

Poverty is worsening in the three northern countries of central America, el Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala : because of the crisis caused by the new coronavirus, the families do not receive more money from their relatives emigrated, including the United States, and on which depends their survival.

“We do not receive more money “, says Damaris Majano of the village of San Isidro, about 70 km north-east of San Salvador.

In his neighborhood, dotted with shacks made of corrugated iron and mud, Damaris Majano, a petite young woman of 25 years complexion coppery, must make use of the food aid distributed by the municipality.

His father, who emigrated to the United States, found himself unemployed when he closed the enterprise distribution of flowers for which he worked in Miami.

In San Isidro, “the people are in need,” says the young woman. Since 1980, 60% of the population of this large town of 15 000 inhabitants emigrated to seek a better life, fleeing poverty, violence and civil war.

From January to April, the el Salvador received more than $ 1.6 billion of the emigrants, but this figure is down by 9.8% compared to the same period of 2019. The fall has been 40 per cent in April, at the beginning of the pandemic on the american continent, according to a report by the central Bank of el Salvador.

For the entire year 2019, more than $ 5.6 billion that flocked to el Salvador, up 4.8% on the previous year. A volume equal to 16% of the GDP of the country.

Social Explosion

In the village of Potrero Cubias, near San Isidro, Antonio Iraheta, a farmer of 64 years, explains that the remittances of his four sons emigrated to the United States decreased by half because they lost their job.

In front of his modest dwelling in sheet metal, Elsy Gonzalez receives a phone call from her husband, Emérito Bonilla, from the State of Maryland, in the United States. “Without work, all is more difficult, one can not help, you can’t send money, nothing “, he says to his wife, left at home with the rest of the family.

“My constituents are hit by the drying up of the money of the emigrants, recognizes Ernesto Romero, the mayor of San Isidro, which organizes the distribution of food supplies to the inhabitants. They are also suffering from the loss of their crops due to the recent passage of hurricane Amanda, which has left more than 30 dead in el Salvador.

Reduced to famine, hundreds of Salvadorans waving white rags on the side of the road to ask for food.

For the president of the Foundation for the development of central America (Fudecen), Oscar Cabrera, the crisis will result in the loss of 240,000 jobs in this country of 6.6 million people, nearly one third of whom already live below the poverty line.

The situation ” may lead sooner or later lead to a social explosion “, added Mr. Cabrera.

As in el Salvador, the remittances of emigrants are a vital part of the economy in Honduras and Guatemala.

Honduras has received from January to may, a little more than $ 1.9 billion, a decrease of 7.1% compared to the same period of 2019.

In Guatemala, it is 3.9 billion us dollars that have been sent by the emigrants during the first five months of the year, representing a decline of 3.1%.

In the United States live 2.7 million Guatemalans, 2.5 million People and a million of emigrants from Honduras. However, the pandemic has caused an explosion in unemployment in the United States up to 13.3% in may, but affecting 17.2% of migrants with origins in Latin america, according to the official statistics.

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