January 14, 2013
In a land haunted by frequent mass murders, a kidnapping may seem a small thing, but to Mauricio Martín it was a moment that altered his life’s trajectory. Cartel thugs snatched his brother from the streets of Mexico City five years ago and demanded bribes until granting his safe return six weeks later. “After that, everywhere I went I was a little scared. My children were not free to go anywhere,” Martín says now from his posh home in a suburb north of Houston. But he’s been in Texas only six months. He stuck it out for years in Mexico City following his brother’s kidnapping. The last straw? Bad business. “In business and government there’s a lot of corruption, so everything you try to do there you have to pay bribes or do things that are not right, so there’s a lot of obstacles,” he says.
April 20, 2012
Council on Foreign Relations, Shannon K. O’Neil, 4/20/12
A recent study highlighted in La Jornada, a Mexican newspaper, claims that some ninety million Mexicans are poor, roughly 80 percent of the total population. This contrasts drastically with calculations by the OECD (which put the poor closer to twenty-three million) or those by Mexican researchers Luis de la Calle and Luis Rubio (who estimate that 25 percent of Mexicans—approximately twenty-nine million—are poor).
So how should we define who is and isn’t poor? The World Bank includes everyone that earns more than two dollars a day; an expansive view that likely rings false for those scraping by just above this bare minimum. The OECD’s measurement is relative by country, based on the median household income. CONEVAL, a Mexican governmental organization that conducts the country’s official poverty measurements, takes a multi-dimensional approach, with income considered alongside access to healthcare, education, social security, housing, and food. By this comprehensive measure, some fifty-two million Mexicans are poor.
The study profiled in La Jornada takes these poor, and adds the next CONEVAL category—those vulnerable to becoming poor (nearly another forty million)—to get to the total number of ninety million. Vulnerable, according to CONEVAL, means lacking access to one or more social services or having an income close to the poverty line.
January 28, 2012
The Washington Post, 1/28/12
High in the wicked folds of the western Sierra Madre, Mexican transportation officials have launched one of the most ambitious road-building projects in history — an experiment in social engineering as much as a structural one.
Across a landscape of yawning ravines and sheer-sided ridges so rugged that locals call it el Espinazo del Diablo — the Devil’s Backbone — the Mexican government is laying down a $1.5 billion “superhighway” that promises to exorcise centuries of isolation and bring an economic boom to one of the country’s poorest and most troubled regions.
When the 140-mile toll road opens as soon as late 2012, it will cut drive time between the interior city of Durango and the Pacific port at Mazatlan from seven hours to 21 / 2, conquering the Sierra’s unholy topography with 62 tunnels and 135 bridges.
August 25, 2011
The Economist, 8/25/11
HOT and high in the Sierra Madre, the city of Saltillo is a long way from Wall Street. Stuffed goats keep an eye on customers in the high-street vaquera, or cowboy outfitter, where workers from the local car factories blow their pesos on snakeskin boots and $100 Stetsons. Pinstriped suits and silk ties are outnumbered by checked shirts and silver belt-buckles; pickups are prized over Porsches.
The financial crisis of 2008 began on the trading floors of Manhattan, but the biggest tremors were felt in the desert south of the Rio Grande. Mexico suffered the steepest recession of any country in the Americas, bar a couple of Caribbean tiddlers. Its economy shrank by 6.1% in 2009 (see chart 1). Between the third quarter of 2008 and the second quarter of 2009, 700,000 jobs were lost, 260,000 of them in manufacturing. The slump was deepest in the prosperous north: worst hit was the border state of Coahuila. Saltillo, its capital, had grown rich exporting to America. The state’s output fell by 12.3% in 2009 as orders dried up.
August 23, 2011
National Catholic Reporter, 8/23/11
Thirteen years have passed since the massacre of 45 men, women and children in a Catholic chapel here in December 1997. Their relatives and neighbors scattered, afraid to return home or go to their fields to harvest their coffee crop.
Determination overcame fear, however, and a few years later the farmers founded Maya Vinic — which means “Mayan man” — a coffee and honey cooperative that rose from the ashes of tragedy.
August 17, 2011
New York Post, 8/17/11
IT’S tough all over, but for Tijuana, the last few years have been murder.
Terror fears? Let’s build some walls. Illegal immigrant fears? More walls again, tighter restrictions, longer lines. Oh, and now that crossing the border is a huge pain, how about we tack on a bird flu scare. And just for fun, the drug wars?
Stroll down the Avenida Revolucion these days – the heart of this Baja California border city’s tourist zone – and you’ll find it as forlorn as a winter’s day on the Coney Island boardwalk, with gate after gate rolled down, shut tight. Last year, it was reported that nearly sixty percent of the businesses in the once-thriving district had failed.
Something happened, though, while we were out. Today, with the local drug wars at a lull and the mood around town one of cautious optimism — statistically, the city is safer right now than popular American destinations like New Orleans, says Jason Thomas Fritz, editor of culture and news site Tijuanalandia.com – Tijuana feels different.
August 14, 2011
The Wall Street Journal, 8/14/11
Mexico’s Finance Minister, Ernesto Cordero, said Sunday that the federal government plans to help state governments refinance their debt with guarantees from the state development bank Banobras.
“Although the debt of the states isn’t a generalized problem, at 2.5% of gross domestic product, there are some states that need to carry out refinancing operations to improve their financial position,” Cordero said in a statement read on a webcast.
The help would involve guarantees from the public works development bank Banobras, and the government is already working with some states that need to improve their debt profiles, he said.
June 8, 2010
Luis de la Calle and Luis Rubio, Translation of an article in Nexos, May 2010
Despite widespread opinion to the contrary, Mexico is becoming a middle-class
society, largely because this is how most of the population perceive themselves.
The strengthening of this sector is perhaps the most important issue for the
country’s future development and the most significant historical event of recent
The middle class is the essence of development and provides stability to a
nation. Even taking into account the recent economic downturn, which
temporarily halted progress, Mexico has experienced a tangible advance in
reinforcing the middle class and wishes to protect a status quo that was able to
gain with so much effort.
Although there is no general agreement of what constitutes to be “middle class”,
there is no doubt that a very significant part of society believes it is middle class
and wants to preserve that status that it strove so much to reach. This fact, of
having a sense of ownership, membership and a right to preserve it, was
certainly a defining factor in the presidential election of 2006 and will continue to
be a key factor in future elections.
January 23, 2009
The New York Times, 1/23/2009
President Obama repealed rules on Friday that restricted federal money for international organizations that promote or provide abortions overseas, sweeping aside a pillar of the social policy architecture of George W. Bush’s presidency.
The executive order that Mr. Obama signed reverses one of the first measures enacted by Mr. Bush when he took over the White House eight years ago and capped an opening-week flurry of action intended to signal a sharp break from the past in domestic and foreign arenas.
September 25, 2008
Mexico Institute, Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, September 25, 2008, 12:00 pm – 2 pm
“Any discussion about dealing with magic bullets is not appropriate, there are no such things in the social sciences”, argued Rogelio Gómez Hermosillo founder and former National Coordinator of Oportunidades, at a September 25, 2008 conference cosponsored by the Wilson Center’s Global Health Initiative and Mexico Institute. Drawing on their domestic and international experiences with conditional cash transfers, an incentive-based model that provides beneficiaries with cash in exchange for modified health and education behavior, Hermosillo, along with his colleagues James Riccio and Michelle Adato, presented challenges and progress with this finance strategy often regarded as the “magic bullet” out of poverty.
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