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Unable to absorb hundreds of thousands of deported migrants into a devastated war economy, El Salvador made a plea to the Reagan Administration not to undertake the deportation of undocumented Salvadorans. Similar pleas for extensions of TPS were made in subsequent years. Such acts—arguing that its citizens abroad merited protection from deportation even if they had fled civil war and a lack of state protection at home—can only be explained by the fact that the Salvadoran Government needed their migrants to become legalized so that they could continue to send remittances Mahler , and that Salvadoran state-led transnationalism Popkin and transnational governmentality Baker-Cristales had begun to take hold on Salvadoran state practices.

Other Central American governments, in particular those of the Guatemala and Nicaragua, were rather late in following the Salvadoran example. Migration flows in one direction and remittance flows in the other have become a major emphasis in regional development analyses.

Remittances sent back to Central America have grown tremendously over the last 30 years, reflecting the increase in migratory movements, improvement in data collection and reduction of transaction costs see Table 3. Sources: —, Orozco ; , World Bank b. In absolute terms, Guatemala received the largest share, followed by Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. In relative terms, El Salvador received the highest amount per caput, followed by Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Remittances have less significance in Costa Rica. The volume of remittances received in the region is indicative of transnational ties formed by migrants and family members still living in Central America.

Although affected by the international financial crisis—resulting in job loss for thousands of Central American migrants—their growth rate remain steadier than other sources of foreign income. Such remittances save millions of people from the strains of poverty and reduce economic risk while providing a margin for survival see for example Cheikhrouhou et al.

Additionally, their flow may be on a par with foreign direct investment FDI and far supersedes official development assistance ODA , which has declined steadily in the region during the past 10 years. In addition, local criticism has revolved around the monetizing and instrumentalizing bias surrounding the production of knowledge about remittances, concentrating the research agenda excessively on financial aspects.

Current mainstream positions ignore the social power relations that remittances destroy or build; the family micro-policy that they determine; the reduction on state actions that they encourage; and the sidestepping of any mention of the political and socio-economic conflicts in the societies where the remittances arrive Rocha Why so much interest in remittances, then? Primarily owing to increasing state dependence on their continuous flow. One way of securing this flow has been to celebrate the providers, for example by constructing the poor and economically expelled population as superheroes, as absent citizens who through remittances contribute to the daily survival of family members and the wider local community.

Other governments, particularly in Guatemala and Nicaragua, have mimicked the discourse but—in spite of much pressure from migrant organizations and local non-governmental organizations NGOs —have done very little to transform the hero image into concrete political action. Some reasons why this is so are discussed below. Much of the current Central American consensus regarding the impact of migration and development can be dated back to the Human Development Report for El Salvador.

The report Una Mirada al Nuevo Nosotros: El Impacto de las Migraciones UNDP acknowledged the importance of remittances and highlighted the emergence of a complex set of social and economic activities driven by migration. The analytical lens applied was transnational, but avoided hollow superhero rhetoric by acknowledging the social costs and hardships for the migrants involved. At times, home country states respond by attempting to reincorporate nationals abroad into the national polity.

The political and economic areas of concern that motivate Central American governments to incorporate their migrant population into the home country polity are summarized by Baker-Cristales They include economic integration, community integration, and cultural and educational relations. The first area is focused on state-promotion of business opportunities and marketing of local products abroad, but also includes the monetary effects of remittances on national balance of payment statistics.

The second area concerns the ways to secure the participation of migrants in local development initiatives, in particular through institutional links to home town associations abroad. The last area revolves around the promotion of national identity and transnational cultural practices abroad as a way to secure long-term commitments and the existence of a loyal lobby for home-country national interests abroad.

The extension of consular services falls in this area. A fourth, but underdeveloped, area entails programmes directed towards the attention to deported as well as voluntarily repatriated migrants. Currently, such programmes are often financed by international donors as part of wider migration management strategies. Their low priority could well be explained by the fact that deported migrants lack any remittance potential. In his comparative study of Salvadoran and Guatemalan migrant-state relations, Eric Popkin concluded that Salvadoran migrants and hometown associations had become incorporated into home country local development efforts to a larger extent than Guatemalan ones owing to a more developed organizational structure in the country and communities of origin.

This is directly linked to differing levels of democracy, but ethnic division is another important factor.

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Salvadoran migrants have had a stronger, more numerous, and more ethnically similar nucleus of activists working in migrant associations abroad. Guatemalans, on the other hand, are divided between Ladino and indigenous populations, and as the few state-led programmes that exist have been aimed at leveraging migration for development as dictated by national elite interests, there has been less interest in establishing links to a primarily indigenous population abroad.

Nevertheless, even in El Salvador, the institution of neo-liberal policies have limited the potential inclusion of migrants into the national political and economic processes, as has increased pressure by the US Government to curtail the flow of migrants ibid. The global expansion of neo-liberalism and the international expansion of markets and market relations are commonly evoked in critical migration-development analysis.

An often overlooked factor is the commoditization of populations.

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As I have argued elsewhere, state constructions of migrant superheroes and home-state rhetorical inclusion presuppose that national citizens remain abroad. The limits to trans-territorial nation state building become apparent when the agenda for neo-liberal transnational governmentality understood as restrictive migration policy and rigid enforcement action is firmly set by the northern migrant-receiving states.

Under such conditions, the bargaining power of Central American states may rest less on their willingness to commodify their population as migrant workers and more on their ability to stall the number of deportations. During the past 10—15 years, international organizations and governments in migrant-sending states have attempted to rhetorically link migration to development. In Central America, regional initiatives have sought to set a new migration-development agenda and generate policy ideas and practical proposals for governments and private decision-makers.


In El Salvador efforts at transterritorial nation state building and transnational governmentality have succeeded to a larger extent than in Guatemala and Honduras, where the embracement of migration-development policy has remained largely rhetorical. A divided migration pattern—and a divided power division on the national political scene—has made migration-development discussions more contagious in Nicaragua.

One explanation for such differences may be found in the geopolitical relations with the USA prior to and during the armed conflicts; another explanation may have to do with the timing of extensive out-migration. While debate continues as to whether stricter border enforcement strategies have impeded the migration of hundreds of thousands Central Americans, one thing is clear: it becomes increasingly difficult to link migration and development without taking into account the dangers migrants encounter en route and the massive deportations they suffer. Yet, local aspirations and state rhetoric remain centred on continuing migration as the route to acute problem solving, progress, or national development.

How do actual and aspiring Central American migrants react to that? Echoing other criticisms of remittance optimism from the region, Rocha goes on to argue that even if remittances reach the poor and can hugely stimulate the consumption capacity of a broad sector of inhabitants, abstracting them from the socio-cultural inter-relations in which they are generated, transferred and consumed, contributes to mystification and reductionism.

Central American migration, remittances and transnational development

As humour is the weapon of the weak it often contains everyday forms of resistance and resilience Scott In contrast to Rocha, I therefore suggest that Central American migrants, by nicknaming their hard-earned foreign currency, are quite aware of the multiple qualities of their remittances. They contribute to feed relatives e. However, their contribution is modest e. The contradiction between the promises of overcoming poverty by migration and how unattainable migration has become to the large majority of Central American migrants reflects the tension between neo-liberal development discourse based on free mobility of money and goods and restrictive migration discourse based on the control of human mobility.

Transnational flows are never just one-way. As deportees begin to voice their discontent with hollow migration-development discourse and demand inclusion in national and transnational projects, new forms of political action may arise. Superhero rhetoric may be stripped of its disguise as may the weakness of states unable to provide social protection to their local, transnational and deported citizens. Salvadoran migrants have benefitted from this programme since its inception.

As many as , Guatemalans fled the country, of whom 46, were recognized and assisted by the Mexican Government. Anecdotal evidence suggests that rising remittance levels also may contribute to money transfers connected to the drugs trade and extortion related to migrant kidnappings. See, for example, Puerta To be a migrant superhero suggests the idea of a masculine universe and is expressed in highly gendered terms. See: global. Nicaragua Authoritarian and democrati Indigenous and Afro-descend Natural disasters, climate We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site.

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Enter keywords, authors, DOI etc. Search History. Search history from this session 0. Metrics Views Historical overview Migration is an enduring feature of Central American history. Current trends While migration is an enduring aspect of Central American livelihood strategies, the volume and dynamics have changed tremendously during the last decades. Honduras Honduran migration has received less scholarly attention than that of its neighbouring countries. El Salvador Salvadorans both the elite and poor peasants migrated to the USA throughout the 20th century, but in limited numbers.

Transnational governmentality Much of the current Central American consensus regarding the impact of migration and development can be dated back to the Human Development Report for El Salvador.

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Conclusion During the past 10—15 years, international organizations and governments in migrant-sending states have attempted to rhetorically link migration to development. Andrade-Eekhoff, K. Baker-Cristales, B. Blossier, F.

Burns, A. Camayd-Freixas, E. Castillo, M. Available at: alhim.

UN and World Bank: working together to fight poverty and boost development

Cheikhrouhou, H. Washington, DC: World Bank. Endo, I. Fajnzylber, P.

Remittance - Wikipedia

Ferguson, J. Guarnizo, L. Smith and L. Hagan, J. Hamilton, N.