During the last twenty years, organized migrants, particularly in clubs and/or federations, have managed to effectively influence policies related to social and economic development in Mexico, specifically in their places of origin (Córdova 2010). The ‘3×1 Program for Migrants’ is perhaps the clearest and most paradigmatic example of how a synergy has been created between the government –at its three levels– and civil organizations of migrants to benefit all the actors involved, especially the and Mexicans in the localities of origin of migrants. To understand how this program originated, it is important to go back to the 1980s, when one of the first agreements was made between the Federation of Zacatecan Clubs of Southern California and the state government of Zacatecas to create the ‘Zacatecanos Absent’ Program. In this agreement, the state government undertook to contribute one dollar for every dollar invested by the Federation for local projects. Although only 28 projects were implemented under the program, it served as a model for similar programs to emerge at the state and federal levels, as well as for the Federation of Zacatecan Clubs to begin to strengthen institutionally (Lanly and Hamann, 2004).
The federal government followed the example of Zacatecas and in 1993, the current Secretariat of Social Development (SEDESOL) created the International Solidarity Program, better known as the ‘2×1 Program’. Under this new scheme, the federal and state governments agreed to invest one dollar for every dollar contributed by the migrant federations. In two years, the program went from seven projects in seven locations to 30 projects in 21 locations (Loc. cit.) and although most were carried out in Zacatecas, over time new states were involved. The 3×1 Program was created in 1998 in the state of Zacatecas and operated until 2001 when the federal government, at the request of migrant leaders and with a new administration, took it up again to give it a new dimension. As of 2002, SEDESOL began receiving requests for support from migrant clubs in the United States and from groups of people organized in the communities of origin to receive resources through the ‘Citizen Initiative – 3×1’ Program. This new scheme included the investment of municipal governments for infrastructure works.
Due to the advocacy process of migrant leaders, in 2004 the program was transformed and from the following year SEDESOL only accepted initiatives from the organized diaspora in the United States. During its first three years of existence, between 2002 and 2005, the Program financed 4,980 projects in 26 states (Soto and Velázquez 2006: 17). García Zamora (2007) raises central questions about the 3×1 Program, but there is one that is particularly relevant to the topic under discussion: How to generate alternatives for investment and that the different dependencies
of the three levels of government facilitate the creation of migrant-initiative business microprojects that allow them to be channeled through specific investment programs for them, avoiding violating the 3×1 Program, which has an eminently solidary logic of community support, and not a business logic? García Zamora (2008:12) highlights the fact that several actors, including migrant federations, recognized “that the 3×1 Program has a solidary logic of support for the communities [so it is necessary] to seek the creation of a new program institution for the investments and productive microprojects of [the and] migrants, whose central objective, as in any business project, is to obtain [economic] benefits.