** Originally published at La Plaza:
When large demonstrations in Mexico calling for an end to the drug war grew last spring, communities of citizens abroad perked up and took notice.
Chatter began popping up on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Virtual groups formed. Mexicans living abroad united around a feeling of desperation over a climbing death toll and reacted to a growing sense among Mexicans at home that the government was losing control of the situation.
By May 8, when poet Javier Sicilia led tens of thousands of demonstrators on a march to the historic heart of Mexico City, smaller demonstrations were also held in cities all over the world, including Barcelona, Spain; Buenos Aires; Madrid; Montreal, Canada; Frankfurt, Germany; and in Paris with the Eiffel Tower looming in the distance.
The demonstrations not only showed that many Mexicans abroad were up-to-date with developments back home, they also offered a window into the large numbers of Mexicans making lives in other countries besides the traditional migration magnet of the United States.
Due largely to its historical migration relationship with the United States, Mexico is identified as the leading exporter of migrants worldwide according to the website Peoplemov.in, which uses open data sources to tabulate bilateral migration patterns. The World Bank also places Mexico as the highest source of human emigration on the planet (see the bank's data chart titled Bilateral migration matrix). The bank says 11.5 million Mexicans lived abroad as of November 2010, with 10.3 million of them in the United States.
By comparison, 2.2 million Americans live outside their country, with 452,182 of those U.S. citizens living in Mexico, the World Bank says.
There are significant groups of Mexican citizens in Canada, Spain and France, all countries that saw protests on May 8. Perhaps the most significant protest against Mexico's drug war occurred in Berlin, where a Facebook group appeared early on using the movement's now-ubiquitous "No Mas Sangre," or "No More Blood" logo.
** Continue reading at La Plaza.