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PARTICIPATORY PLANNING ACROSS BORDERS: MEXICAN MIGRANT CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Xóchitl Bada University of Illinois at Chicago Introduction This article focuses on practices of extraterritorial citizen participation in rural communities within municipalities in the state of Michoacán, Mexico and explores the possibilities for creating synergistic interactions among migrant-led Hometown Associations (HTAs), municipal governments , and rural development organizations at the village level. Mexico’s submunicipal rural governance regimes are seldom analyzed because they tend to be isolated from decision-making and oversight in municipal governance . This article argues that Mexican hometown associations create opportunities for state-society cooperation for community development when they collaborate with local community organizations in collective remittance projects. Hometown Associations have effectively increased the levels of empowered participatory governance and social accountability by demanding to be included in government decision-making processes related to migrant rights and community development. In response to the increased visibility of migrant organizations, state governments created new institutions and designed cooperation models to promote community development in sending municipalities. In the last two decades, Mexican municipalities have slowly been consolidating their abilities to improve the management of resources thanks to an increase in their policymaking authority (Grindle 2007; Selee 2011). However, the new governing opportunities have also brought new responsibilities and challenges for delivering resources and services to villages and towns; therefore, to address the increased demands of their constituents, municipal governments have enlisted the support of migrant hometown associations in the United States to attract more public spending for social infrastructure and jobgenerating projects. These new state-migrant civil society collaborations present a unique opportunity to produce civic engagement models of co-governance that are not only based in a market oriented membership but allow migrant citizen participation beyond migrant collective remittance investments.1 Growing evidence of positive outcomes demonstrates that migrant civic engagement in newly created spaces for co-governance are one of the best ways to tap into social participation to strengthen C  2011 Southeastern Council on Latin American Studies and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 9 The Latin Americanist, December 2011 accountability, transparency and co-production of public goods at the municipal level, the core of Mexico’s political structure (Ackerman 2003). Mexican migrant organizations play a critical role as negotiators in channeling collective remittances for rural development through the Three for One Program—the first nationwide matching funds program.2 Moreover , they have successfully advocated to regain electoral rights in local and national elections and to demand innovative laws aimed at protecting migrant political, cultural, and economic rights. Despite the increased visibility of activities organized by the Mexican migrant civil society in Mexico and in the United States, research on Mexican civil society and its impact on democratization and political parties has largely ignored the influence of Mexican migrant organizations in the United States (Olvera 2003; Olvera 2010). Hometown Associations (HTAs) are migrant membership organizations formed by people from the same community of origin. Though many began as informal groups, by the turn of the century hundreds had become formal organizations. HTAs function as social support networks, as well as transmitters of culture and values to the US-born generation. Often in response to Mexican government encouragement, many of these translocal clubs later join with others from their home states to form federations. These scaled-up forms of representation increase migrant leverage with their home state governments. HTAs become involved in social development projects on behalf of their communities of origin, as well as in the defense of human rights in regions of settlement.3 So far, Mexican HTAs have been mostly studied in relation to their U.S.-based activities. The majority of research on this topic has focused on understanding their ability to foster integration to U.S. society and institutions as well as their capacity to create new and innovative developmental schemes in rural Mexico through their charity infrastructure projects in communities of origin. However, hometown associations’ role as important actors in participatory budgeting, social accountability, and as empowering forces in Mexico’s fourth level of state has not been equally scrutinized. This is a topic that deserves attention and has been not well documented. Some authors have noticed that HTAs have...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1557-203X
Print ISSN
1557-2021
Pages
pp. 9-33
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-25
Open Access
No
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