In El Llano, Mexico, Napa resident Rosario Gonzalez, center, and family
members wait for friends in El Llano’s plaza during holiday festivities
in December 2007. Gonzalez’ husband Tony Herrera, who works at Swanson
Vineyards in Oakville, is at left. Between them are their niece,
Jessica Herrera of American Canyon, and their 2-year-old daughter
Carolina. Lianne Milton/Register
The Napa Valley Register have put together a good series titled Napa & Mexico, The Ties That Bind. The series contains a mix of articles, photos and videos is about Mexican immigrants from Napa and St. Helena, California, immigrants with ties to Patzimaro, Churintzio and El Llano, all small towns in Michoacan, Mexico.
The story reports on how immigrants in Napa and St. Helena have ties to these areas and how they have organized to form groups and Home Town Associations (HTA's) to provide economic assistance to these towns. Not only do immigrants send remittances, they also send donations to repair churches and roads.
Napa Valley is home to some 30,000 people of Mexican descent and it's believed that a majority of Mexican immigrants come from Michoacan.
Ties That Bind
The series shed some light on a growing trend by immigrants making visits to their hometowns, visits that not only reconnect them to their families left behind, but also serves to rekindle the cultural ties to the region and it's customs.
Mexican immigrants to these towns come for the yearly fiesta, or to attend a wedding, funerals. Some come for religious celebrations and pray at their towns sacred capilla.
The series also reports on how immigrant groups have banded together to form Home Town Associations who are attempting to make better use of the "Tres-Por-Uno" program initiated by former Mexican Predident Vicente Fox. That program was started as a social and economic development, a program that is intended to help immigrant clubs and associations raise funds to aid their
hometowns. The program thus far has served to repair churches, construct small clinics, pave roads and build highways. Home Town Associations can receive matching contributions from the Mexican government agencies at the local, state and federal
levels on a dollar per dollar basis, thus $10,000 raised for the benefit of the town would be matched by the Mexican goverment with another $30,000.
Agustin Pradillo, press consul for the San Francisco office of the
Mexican Consulate-General of Mexico, said the policy was drafted to
encourage economic growth to create jobs at home, dampening the desire
of able-bodied workers to leave for work in the United States and
The money and donations for fiestas not only helps sustain the families that remain in these small towns, but also serves to foster civic participation from Mexican immigrants concerned about the government and infrastructure of towns they left many years ago, towns for which they have fond memories, memories that keep them coming back to towns that won't be forgetten.