PEREIRA, Colombia -- For the past three years, Felipe Ruiz has made his living as a landscape gardener in Connecticut. Recently, though, he was laid off, prompting his return to his hometown of Pereira, in the heart of Colombia's coffee-growing region.
"I didn't expect to return home so soon," said the 32-year-old Ruiz. "It was the last resort. My savings had dried up."
Every month, Ruiz had typically sent home $400 from his wages. Over the years, the money had been a key source of income for the family of five, who relied on the remittances to make ends meet and to pay for groceries and rent.