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    Mexico works to deepen links with diaspora

    Monday, November 24th, 2008

    The Associated Press has an interesting report on Mexico’s preparations to solidify its ties with its diaspora. Mexico’s emigrants are responsible for the second-largest source of foreign income after oil exports through their remitances. The Mexican government has long expected the remittance stream from its emigrants in the US to dry up someday, so they began to take a more pro-active stance in the relationship with their diaspora in the early 1980s.

    The Mexican government set up the “Institute of Mexicans Abroad” in 2003. Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, the executive director says, “They’ve tried to take a much more proactive stance with these communities, with the recognition that they might not be coming back”.

    The article says:

    The institute supports education and cultural programs for Mexican immigrants and their families in the U.S., including Spanish classes, a program that sends Mexican teachers to U.S. districts with a shortage of bilingual educators, donations of Spanish language materials to U.S. schools and libraries, and literacy initiatives for adult immigrants in the U.S.

    Other programs are aimed at the children of immigrants – many whom may have been to Mexico – that include sponsoring soccer tournaments, cultural programs, youth exchanges and academic scholarships.

    Gutierrez said the Mexican government wants to emphasize to immigrants that it doesn’t just view them as revenue streams for the estimated $23 billion they have pumped into the economy yearly over the past few years.

    The Mexican government has also expanded consular services, extending hours and adding mobile services. It has also made changes to allow for dual citizenship and emigrant voting rights.

    Further reading:

    “Towards an Irish Diaspora Policy”: authors seek feedback

    Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

    Two Maynooth academics have published “Towards an Irish Diaspora Strategy: A Position Paper”. Mark Boyle, a Geography professor, and Rob Kitchim, the Director of the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis and Chair of the Irish Social Services Platform, are welcoming feedback on the working paper, which is published by the NIRSA.

    The paper suggests that it is now time to develop a unifying strategy for its relationship with the diaspora. With the shrinking Diaspora and the changing nature of the Irish experience both at home and abroad, Boyle and Kitchim say that strengthening Diaspora initiatives could extend social, cultural, political and economic benefits for all parties.

    The authors say:

    The central ethos of an Irish Diaspora strategy should be that by helping each other – building networks of support, sharing advice, creating new ventures – Ireland, the Irish Diaspora and their new country of residence, the ‘New Irish’ and their home countries, all benefit and nobody is exploited. Here it is important to conceive of the Diaspora not as a primed resource waiting to be tapped, but rather as a precious resource to be cared for and tended, valued and re-engerised. As such, a strategy should not be conceived in terms of using the Diaspora but growing in partnership with it.

    The authors propose that four relationships should be considered in an Irish diaspora strategy:

    • Ireland – Irish Diaspora
    • Ireland – New Irish
    • Irish Diaspora – Irish Diaspora
    • Irish Diaspora – New Irish.

    They note, “Our focus has been on growing together in partnership, but it should be noted that the question concerning the voting rights of Irish citizens abroad needs to be part of the wider discussion and consultation process concerning a Diaspora strategy.”

    Boyle and Kitchim envision this document as part of the first step toward a Diaspora strategy; they envision a consultation period, the formulation of a “Green Paper” setting out the proposed strategy, a debate on that Green Paper leading to the drafting a White Paper, and then the implementation of the strategy.

    See the working paper on the NIRSA website.

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