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‘Con nuestro propio esfuerzo’: understanding the relationships between international migration and the environment in Guatemala

International migration from rural areas affects the environment in numerous and complex ways. The inflow of economic and social remittances changes production and consumption patterns, social relations, and social and economic institutions in the places of origin of migrants. In this case study, the author discusses how migration is pushing a local process of land redistribution in Guatemala.

Such a process is also changing patterns of land use and land cover. The process is influenced by the emergence of local cooperatives, which in turn are stimulated by organizations and networks in wider temporal and spatial contexts. Land acquisition by migrant families has also improved their position vis-à- vis traditional landowners. My study suggests that in contexts where local organization is successful and linked to actors and networks at wider scales, transnational households are in a good position to negotiate the outcomes of the use of remittances. These families are improving their living standards without degrading the environment irreversibly.

Open Access peer reviewed article in European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, no 93, pp 25-40