Remittances continue to be essential for millions of Mexicans, especially in municipalities such as Tepeojuma, in the central state of Puebla, where they fear that the coronavirus will destroy this important source of subsistence.
“(My son) lives in Chicago, works in a restaurant and supports me, he has his tips and he supports me with 180 dollars or 200, equivalent to about 4,000 Mexican pesos,” María Rodríguez, a resident of Tepeojuma.
Her first-born has lived in the United States for 20 years, went to look for the American dream and stayed there because she already has her own family. She has never seen him again.
María Rodríguez, who preferred not to attend in person due to the fear she feels of leaving the house or receiving visits in her home due to the coronavirus, said that she is afraid that her son may become infected and receive bad news.
Across the United States, there are already more than 1,270,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, which has left at least 76,400 deaths, according to the independent Johns Hopkins University count.
While in Mexico, the pandemic has left 3,160 deaths and more than 31,500 confirmed cases.
In March, the timely sending of remittances by her son allowed María Rodríguez to continue despite the global pandemic, which has led to the paralysis of non-essential activities and social distancing, putting millions of Mexicans in a difficult situation.
The sending of money by María’s son is not unique, since in March, Mexico received 4,016 million dollars in remittances, 49% more than the 2,694 million dollars in February.
This figure was surprising because it is one of the highest levels ever recorded and because it is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in the world and especially in the United States, where more than 20 million people have lost their jobs.
In the state of Puebla around 50 of the 217 municipalities in the region are greatly benefited by the sending of remittances.
And in some places like Tepeojuma, where it is estimated that 90% of its about 8,500 inhabitants live on remittances sent by relatives from the United States, mainly from New York or Chicago.
IN FEAR OF LOSS
However, the arrival of resources during the month of March has not been full of happiness, since the beginning of the health contingency in the United States has caused the finances of the residents to take second place.
Now, the main concern is the health of their relatives, who are being asked to remain in quarantine to avoid getting coronavirus.
Germán Ortiz, an inhabitant of Atlixco and a reporter by profession, suffered the loss of one of his brothers by COVID-19 in New York, who presented symptoms in early April and died on the 19th of that month.
“From the repatriation of the remains, the support given by the Government of Mexico in the state of New York is in force to return the remains. In several cases it is through a funeral home, but in our case they will support us to send the ballot box”, said to Efe.
Authorities told him that his brother’s remains will be shipped in June.
Germán has four brothers in the United States and reveals that being away from them in these difficult times has caused the uncertainty of what is happening to be complicated.
Because he only finds out what is going on in the news, because relatives in the neighboring country often lie and say that everything is fine.
He shared that another of his brothers was infected but could have a respirator in the hospital where he was treated and, after a fifteen days of battle, he already left the hospital and is in quarantine.
Ortiz revealed that this situation has complicated the economic situation of his parents, to whom most of the resources came, more necessary than ever now because of the confinement.
Similarly, Germán Ortiz explained that the economic situation will be complicated in the coming months, since his brothers are not working and he does not know if his resources will last for the next few months.
Her story is reflected in many other Mexicans with relatives in the United States. According to official data, more than 660 Mexicans residing in the neighboring country have died from COVID-19.
And meanwhile, millions of families in Mexico continue to live on remittances, although it remains to be seen whether their relatives on the other side of the Río Bravo will be able to help them financially for much longer.
The Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has described the migrants as “living heroes” because thanks to remittances, the popular economy is helped.
Remittances, which come mainly from Mexican migrants living in the United States, represent Mexico’s second largest source of foreign exchange, after automotive exports, and constitute an important income for millions of people.
In 2019 alone, 36.048 million dollars were received, a historical maximum and 7.04% higher than the 2018 figure.