GUATEMALA CITY – The sending of remittances to family members by Guatemalans living abroad fell 9.5 percent in the first five months of 2009 compared with the same period last year, the country’s central bank said Thursday.
Remittances from January through May totaled $1.59 billion, Banco de Guatemala said on its Web site, down from $1.76 billion in the first five months of 2008.
Last month Guatemalans abroad sent home $332.6 million, about $7.08 million less than in April, according to the central bank.
The amount of remittances in May was down 16.4 percent compared to the same month in 2008, when $397.98 million flowed into the country.
Authorities attribute the fall-off in remittances to the world economic crisis, above all in the United States, where 1.2 million Guatemalans have settled, 60 percent of them without the proper required immigration papers.
In 2009, Banco de Guatemala estimated that remittances could rise by 3.5 percent, somewhat less than the 4.5 percent hike registered in 2008.
In recent years, annual increases of between 14 and 20 percent had been experienced.
Guatemala received a total of $4.31 billion in remittances last year. EFE