PANAMA CITY (EFE) – CentralAmerican immigrants sent relatives backhome a record-high $7.1 billion in 2004,official agencies reported last Saturday.According to the central banks ofCosta Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala,Honduras and Nicaragua and the Trade andIndustry Ministry of Panama, 2004 remittancessurpassed the 2003 total by $1.21billion.Remittances have become the topsource of foreign currency of most CentralAmerican nations, especially Guatemala, ElSalvador and Honduras, and replacedbanana and coffee exports as mainstays ofthe countries’ economies.In 2004, both Guatemala and ElSalvador received some $2.55 billion inremittances; Honduras, $1.2 billion; andNicaragua, $519 million. Costa Rica reportedreceiving $216 million and Panama $80million through September.Guatemala said 95% of its 2004 remittancescame from the United States, wheremore than 1.2 million of its citizens live,most of them illegally.Of 2.7 million Salvadorans who liveabroad, 2.5 million live in the UnitedStates, 248,000 of them under TemporaryProtection Status (TPS), which allows themto work legally. Honduras also has some100,000 of its citizens living in the UnitedStates under TPS status, granted to themafter Hurricane Mitch in 1998.Though most of the remittances comefrom immigrants living in the UnitedStates, most of them illegally, there areexceptions. Many of Nicaragua’s remittancescome from Costa Rica, where thousandsof Nicaraguans work. Costa Rica isthe only Central American nation that islikely to register a drop in remittancesreceived from abroad once the annual figuresare in.
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