Monday, May 08, 2006

Emigration empties the Salvadoran countryside

The Washington Post has an excellent article today about the impact of emigration on small rural towns in El Salvador. The exodus to "el norte" to find jobs has left towns filled only with the elderly and children:

PIEDRAS BLANCAS, El Salvador -- It was just past noon, yet the only sign of life in the main square of this remote eastern village was an elderly man swinging in a hammock on his porch.

There was a time, Jose Nieve-Reyes Rubio, 70, explained in a gravelly voice, when the plaza would have been packed with vendors and customers by this hour, their shouts ringing through the air as they bought and sold food, clothing and every imaginable kind of trinket.

"But that was more than 10 years ago," he said as he settled back into his hammock. "Before everyone left for the States."

Today, like villages across El Salvador, Piedras Blancas has been nearly emptied of its working-age inhabitants. Left behind are children and grandparents who live on money that relatives send from such previously unheard of places as "Manassas, Virginia," "Houston, Texas," and simply "Maryland" -- the catchall term by which people here refer to a host of Washington area suburbs.

Although exact figures are difficult to determine, the director of the village school, who has tracked the student population for two decades, estimates that more than 3,500 Piedras Blancas natives, or about 40 percent of the population, live in the United States. (more).

5 comments:

El-Visitador said...

Wow... the WP continues to chime in with extremely original reporting about young people leaving small towns for economic opportunity elsewhere.

Only problem, is the NYT scooped them on April 9, with a report on how rural Montana is emptying out... because all the young leave and never come back due to economic opportunity elsewhere.

The NYT again scoops the WP on April 30th, describing how the rural town of Ogama in Japan is down to 8 elderly people... because all the young leave and never come back due to economic opportunity elsewhere.

In all fairness, though, the NYT didn't say if all young Montanans and Japanese are deserting their towns for Maryland

Not Far From Forsaken
http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20B14FE3B540C7A8CDDAD0894DE404482

Village Writes Its Epitaph: Victim of a Graying Japan
http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60911F93B5B0C738FDDAD0894DE404482

Tim said...

Of course, the people leaving rural Montana and rural Japan are not leaving their children behind, so there is a difference in the phenomena. But there is no doubt that urbanization is a phenomena that you find on every continent.

mogul said...

Mr Tim,
Why is it "an excellent article"?
It could be named a 'sad' article, do you think?

pedro mendoza said...

I WAS BORN IN PIEDRAS BLANCAS, i currently live in NY, Roney Ramirez is my cousin i have not seen him in many years...i did'nt know he was a teacher. i left april 1, 1994. how did you like the town?

Elmer said...

Places like this are always going to be remembered, as Salvadorean/Piedras Blancas citizen I feel really proud of what our people have done for our "Canton Piedras". I left my "Canton" 6 years ago, but when I went there I was very proud of what they had done. Thank you everybody and keep it up!!!
Elmer Avear