The worrying thing about remittances

The growth of remittances has been extraordinary in recent months. According to the Bank of Mexico, only in the first quarter of this year there were 17,240 million dollars, which represents almost 18 percent more than the same period of the previous year, with an average remittance of 383 dollars.

Since July 2008 – 14 years ago – a report called ‘International Migrations of the Colegio de la Frontera’ already spoke of the fact that the notable increases in remittances could be resources from drug trafficking, but recognized that they were a difficult matter to verify. And he added that if it were that way, the transfer flows would be “more regular and with maximum amounts allowed per transaction.”

Possibly this same reflection can continue to be applied today, taking into account that the average shipment per remittance is 383 dollars.

However, the research published last August by Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity does not agree on this, indicating that “if one looks at the mass of remittances reported in the National Household Income and Expenditure Survey, they add up to less than about 3,000 million -dollars-. The figures are very disconcerting and do not add up.” And the same can happen with the version of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which the National Drug Threat Assessment tacitly indicates that the cartels “use electronic transfers, legitimate business accounts, channeled accounts and structured deposits with companies of remittances to move money while hiding the route of illicit income.” In addition, we must remember what was reported almost two years ago by the State Department about the arrest of 28 members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel for laundering 10 million dollars in Texas, when they sent “thousands of transactions” in remittances to Mexico, in addition to the eight people indicted in Ohio for laundering $44 million, using the same system.

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But regardless of the origin of the remittances -whether they are the product of the hard work of migrant migrants or part of money laundering operations- the issue is very well used by the political elite, ‘collecting medals’ that do not belong to them. On Thursday of the previous week, when the International Day of Family Remittances was celebrated, the Head of Government of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, adorned herself in a Tweet saying “On the International Day of Remittances, we recognize and thank our compatriots abroad their contribution to our economy, because in the first quarter of the year, the City received 687.5 million dollars in remittances. Together we continue to reactivate the city, the city”. Together?

That same day, President López Obrador recognized the contributions in the morning, which he described as a “miracle of our countrymen” and with a deceitful smile said that this year remittances could reach 60,000 million dollars. However, we must not forget that very recently ‘the medal’ was ‘hung up’ on income from remittances -which are Mexico’s main income-, as if it were a triumph of his government. And above all, we must remember what he said on September 28, 2021 about the Banco del Bienestar, that once it is consolidated, it has its sights set on attracting remittances to consolidate its function as a disseminator of funds for social support, which that has commercial banking very attentive. What do you think?

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