CRS History in Mexico
Catholic Relief Services' presence in Mexico dates back to 1943, when we opened the first camp for people displaced by World War II. There in Leon, Guanajuato, in central Mexico, CRS helped to resettle Polish refugees, particularly orphans, who had been released from Siberian forced-labor camps. CRS then began working closely with Caritas in Mexico to provide disaster assistance and other types of humanitarian aid. In the early 1980s, CRS closed our office in Mexico in order to focus resources on other, poorer countries in the region.
In 1985, Mexico City was hit by an earthquake which killed at least 9,000 people and left 100,000 homeless. CRS returned to the country to manage a three-year disaster response operation. Nearly a decade later, we responded to the 1994 Zapatista uprising, extending our program in Guatemala and providing assistance to communities displaced by the conflict. Mounting poverty and inequality in Mexico, along with the migration and economic issues affecting both Mexico and the United States, led CRS to reopen our Mexico program in 2001.
Since then, we've expanded our traditional focus from southern Mexico, where poverty rates are the highest, to include migration, justice for workers and microfinance programs in northern Mexico. CRS Mexico also has a strong focus on building relationships with people in the United States.