East to the Americas

The Enomoto Migration

Image:Luz Montero

Francisca Ono , 80, is the child of Japanese emigrants to Mexico. She lives near Tapachula, Chiapas, close to where the first Japanese colony settled.

Toward the end of the 19th Century, MexicanPresident Porfirio Diaz looked to draw immigrantsand foreign investment to modernizehis poor and largely indigenous nation. Diazwas the first foreign leader to sign a friendshipand trade pact with Japan in 1888 and the firstLatin American leader to encourage Japaneseemigration.

“Mexico had pretty much given up on theIndians, saying the Indians are holding backmodernization so we have to take land awayfrom them and give it to immigrants, especiallywhite immigrants,” says Michigan StateUniversity historian Jerry Garcia, a specialistin the migration.