The dramatic demographic shift in Mr Velasco’s family mirrors almost exactly the wider trends at work in Mexico over the past 50 years or so. From an average of almost seven children per woman in the 1960s, the birth rate has fallen to roughly two today. Those changes have created both opportunities and problems for the world’s 11th largest country by population as it grapples with the strains of trying to become a fully developed nation over the next generation.
Mexico’s first lady Angelica Rivera de Peña hosted a meeting with Guatemala’s first lady Rosa María Leal de Pérez at Los Pinos. The issue of concern discussed in the meeting was migration of unaccompanied children. As concluded, both Mexico and Guatemala will work together to provide better protection for migrant children.
At the Biblioteca Benito Juárez in Tijuana, Yara Amparo López López, coordinator of the Programa Binacional de Educación del Migrante (PROBEM) in the Mexican border state of Baja California, is presiding over a meeting. It’s her and a bunch of teenagers, speaking Spanish, English, and Spanglish.
For Rosa, whose 10-year-old son doesn’t speak Spanish, the meeting is helpful. Rosa’s kids are two of an estimated 4,000 American citizen children who currently attend school in Tijuana. In the last two years, more than 205,000 parents of American citizen children were deported from the United States. That means a new influx of American kids are now living – and learning – in Mexico.
A pediatric specialty hospital will be inaugurated on April 30th in Chihuahua. According to DIF state president, Bertha Gomez Duarte, this facility plans to serve Chilren from the states of Chihuahua, Durango, Sonora, and Coahuila.
More than 20 million children and adolescents in Mexico are estimated to live in poverty, and five million of them in extreme poverty, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today reported in a joint study with the Mexican Government. “The economy has grown well over the past years but this does not always mean that the poor are better off,” said the UNICEF Representative in Mexico, Isabel Crowley. “The human development indexes in some parts of Mexico are close to those of some of the world’s least developed countries.”
According to the ‘Child and Adolescent Poverty and Social Rights in Mexico’ study, produced by UNICEF and the national social policy evaluation agency CONEVAL, children are overrepresented among the poor. According to 2010 figures, 46.2 per cent of Mexico’s residents lived in poverty – a figure that rises to 53.8 per cent among children.
In case you thought Mexican drug cartels had sunk as low as they could get, a new report details how they use children as young as 11 years old to do their murderous bidding. In the last decade, the cartels “have recruited thousands of street gang members, school drop-outs and unskilled workers,” the International Crisis Group recently reported. The ICG, a non-government organization that seeks to prevent conflict, notes many of these “recruits” — to use a clumsy term — are younger than 18, considered expendable, and deliberately ordered to attack superior Mexican military forces.
According to military officers interviewed by the organization, the “cartel bosses will treat the young killers as cannon fodder, throwing them into suicidal attacks on security forces.” First, the children are enticed or manipulated into joining the cartels, and given basic weapons instruction at training camps, many of which have been discovered in the jungles along the Guatemalan border. The weapons are varied, ranging from AR-15 rifles to Uzi submachine guns, and .38 and 9-mm caliber pistols. Next, the kids are put into cells led by experienced cartel soldiers, who have some prior training with the military or police.
Earlier this week, I spotted, among the job listings in the newspaper Reforma, an ad from a restaurant in Mexico City looking to hire dishwashers. The requirement: a secondary school diploma. Years ago, school was not for everyone. Classrooms were places for discipline, study. Teachers were respected figures. Parents actually gave them permission to punish their children by slapping them or tugging their ears. But at least in those days, schools aimed to offer a more dignified life.
Nowadays more children attend school than ever before, but they learn much less. They learn almost nothing. The proportion of the Mexican population that is literate is going up, but in absolute numbers, there are more illiterate people in Mexico now than there were 12 years ago. Even if baseline literacy, the ability to read a street sign or news bulletin, is rising, the practice of reading an actual book is not. Once a reasonably well-educated country, Mexico took the penultimate spot, out of 108 countries, in a Unesco assessment of reading habits a few years ago.
La Jornada, 2/22/2013
Maria Martinez’s sunken eyes and wrinkled skin make her seem more than 50 years old. In Mixtec, she explains that she does not remember when she was born; meanwhile, the nurse revises her records clarifies the doubt: Maria is 35 years and the baby she carries in her arms is her seventh child.
Like her, many families live with 10 or 15 pesos a day (one quarter of the minimum wage)with which they can only afford pasta, beans and, if revenues improve, chicken or beef every 15 or 30 days. “A chicken costs 80 or 90 pesos, and I can’t afford it,” says Maria.
Even though 300 families receive some aid, malnutrition, remoteness, lack of education, and unemployment keep them in the geography of poverty.
El Universal, 2/4/2013
Mexico faces a outbreak of young offenders who participate in organized crime. The most dramatic case is that of the state of Nuevo Leon, but states like Sinaloa, Aguascalientes, Morelos, Tlaxcala and Sonora also recorded an increase in the number of young children mixed up in crime.
In addition to young men, more women are committing high impact crimes such as drug trafficking and homicides linked to organized crime.
But amid all the numbers in the six month, $1.047 trillion measure, none stands out more than a little-noticed $132 million increase to address the flood of unaccompanied child migrants crossing the Southwest Border from Central America.
These are teenagers and younger, often riding alone atop freight trains to cross Mexico from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. And the new spending for these children is a wake-up call of sorts for Washington to a genuine humanitarian crisis, the government’s own struggles to cope, real costs for American taxpayers, with no one fully understanding the dynamics of what is happening