Migrating to find work in El Salvador
While Salvadorans regularly speak of wanting to emigrate away from their country, poor Nicaraguans and Hondurans are eager to come to El Salvador to work in its sugar cane fields. The Los Angeles Times has the story today of Honduran workers who come to fill a shortage of agricultural workers in El Salvador. The Times story explains the economics of the situation:
In November, Salvadoran Agriculture Minister Mario Salaverria announced that 15,000 foreign workers would be needed to complete the cane, cotton and coffee harvests here.
The labor shortages are being felt across the region. Mezcal producers in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, coffee plantations in Nicaragua and chile farmers in the central Mexican state of Zacatecas have found themselves in a similar predicament because so many local people have left to seek better wages elsewhere.
"The problem is that remittances [from the U.S.] have made Salvadorans comfortable and they don't want to work cutting cane," said Italo Escrich, harvest supervisor for the Central Izalco sugar refinery, which contracted the workers....
For the poor of Honduras and Nicaragua today, Escrich said, "El Salvador has become the Central American dream." For the Hondurans, the relative abundance of El Salvador is, unlike the faraway United States, just a day's bus ride away.
People here get paid in dollars Â El Salvador adopted the U.S. currency in 2001. The local currency, the colon, has all but disappeared from circulation. The Honduran migrants find that the dollars earned in El Salvador go much further when they are sent home and converted to Honduran lempiras.