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October 2002, Volume 9, Number 10

Latin America

An estimated $18 billion in remittances was sent to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2001 from migrants in the US, with another $5 billion arriving from Europe, Japan, and Canada. The remittance totals included $1.9 billion to El Salvador and $600 million to Nicaragua.

Haiti. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide blames the international community for contributing to a growing humanitarian crisis. Foreign aid has been blocked since May 2000 elections, which the opposition says were marred by fraud committed by Aristide's party. Haitians continue to leave, and many head for the Bahamas - (made up of 700 islands and cays) about 95 miles from Haiti.

Since December 2001, the US has detained all Haitians who arrive by boat and apply for asylum. In response to criticism, the deputy assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, Thomas Shannon, said: "Given the threat illegal migration poses to our national security, we support sending a strong message to the Haitian people that they do not enjoy automatic entry into the United States."

Jamaica. Jamaica is a country of 2.6 million that has a net emigration of about 22,000 a year. Most emigrants go to the US. For example, in 2000, the US admitted 16,000 Jamaican immigrants; Canada, 2,500; and the UK 360.

There is also return migration. About 1,200 Jamaicans return voluntarily to the island each year, including half from the UK, often to retire, and another 2,500 are deported back to Jamaica, over half from the US. British papers give considerable publicity to "Yardies," Jamaicans who commit violent crimes in the UK.

Jamaica received $967 million in remittances in 2001, and another $100 million in pension payments from the UK, and an additional $100 million in Social Security payments from the US and Canada.

Brazil. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the leftist Workers' Party won about 47 percent of the vote in Brazil's presidential election October 6, 2002; he will face Jose Serra, of the ruling centrist Brazilian Social Democratic Party, in a runoff on October 27, 2002. Brazil, with 175 million residents, accounts for 40 percent of Latin America's GDP and has been suffering economically, and the International Monetary Fund made an emergency $30 billion loan to stabilize the economy earlier in 2002; Brazil has $240 billion in public debts.