Sat. May 28th, 2022

There are about 10,000 people living in Comachuen, a Purepecha Indigenous community located high in the pine-clad mountains of Mexico’s western state of Michoacan.

The town relied heavily on the money sent home by migrants working in the neighboring United States after the decline in local woodwork sales about 10 years ago when pine was scarce.

These remittances allowed their families to stay in Comachuen rather than relocate to other parts of Mexico for work. This – and the fact that children spend a large part of the year with their mothers and grandparents – has helped to preserve the Purepecha language among almost everyone in town.

The traditional textiles, woodwork and construction survive, largely because such businesses are financed by overpayments sent home to build houses. Many things in town – the church, the bullring, the donations of charity – are paid for with money.

The Mexican government estimates overpayments sent last year will exceed $ 50 billion for the first time. But whether the overpayments allow families to just survive or make enough progress so that their children do not have to emigrate differs, reflecting a person’s plans and prospects.

Last week, the migrant workers were back in the city due to the seasonal silence in agricultural work in the US.

Many Comachuen workers get H2A Temporary US Work Visas, while others go without documents. Hundreds of men from the town work each year on the same vegetable farm in New York State, planting onions, harvesting squash, cabbage, and beans. Porfirio Gabriel, an organizer recruiting workers to move north, estimates that one farm alone brought in $ 5 million to the town over three years, by far its largest single source of income.

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