Emigration Creates Ghost Towns in Mexico

By Jason Peña on October 2, 2019

At least 20 municipalities in the Mexican state of Zacatecas have been nearly abandoned because of emigration to the United States.

In an interview with the newspaper El Universal, Ignacio Fraire Zuniga, a representative of the National Institute of Migration (known as INM in Spanish), said the state ranks third in the number of its citizens who have left, after Michoacan and Oaxaca. "If there are one and a half million Zacatecans here," he said, "in the United States there are another million and a half."

"This exodus should not fill us with pride," he said, "people who migrate to another country never do it for pleasure, but for necessity and it is something we do not want. [Mobility] should be something optional for people and not an obligation to have a better quality of life."

The municipalities that are affected are in the canyon region of Zacatecas, including Jerez, Tlaltenago, Jalpa, Juchipila, Nochistlan, Frensnillo, Sombrete, Rio Grande, Juan Aldama, and Miguel Auza.

Migration in the state has been an issue for years, and government officials have readily acknowledged the problem. At the same time, the state benefits from remittances sent by Mexicans working in the United States.

Fraire Zuniga said that, "Most have a relative, friend, or cousin on the other side of the border. What comes from remittances is very similar to what the federation [the national government] invests throughout the state, and Zacatecas has developed an annual budget of 25 billion pesos."

Javier Mendoza Villalpando, a delegate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Zacatecas, said the state receives almost 18 billion pesos annually in remittances.