El Norte or Bust!: How Migration Fever and Microcredit Produced a Financial Crash in a Latin American Town

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In this unexpected story of a financial bubble and collapse, David Stoll puts a compelling human face on the global economic crisis. Tracing the desperate plight of Latin Americans moving north in search of higher wages, he shows how for the Mayas of Nebaj, an indigenous town in Guatemala that is running out of land, the biggest challenge is finding employment for their youth. The Nebajenses have tried to solve that problem by using U.S. development aid funds to smuggle themselves to the United States and earn enough to support their families back home. As their experience shows, migration streams to the United States have become a pyramid scheme in which migrants recoup their losses by transferring risk, and with it the increasing likelihood of losing everything they own, to their relatives and neighbors. Ever-deepening debt, Stoll convincingly argues, is the powerful engine driving undocumented migration to the United States.