The Economist, 01/04/2014
The Central de Abastos wholesale market is the largest of its kind in the world, sprawling over an area half the size of Mexico City’s airport. Yet on New Year’s Eve, it was still hard to move for the shoppers clogging up the 1-kilometre (1,100-yard) grocery aisle, buying everything from pig’s heads to sugar cane to grapes for that night’s festivities.
Outside, it was another story. People without enough money to shop were sifting through piles of discoloured and discarded avocados and tomatoes, wrapping what was still edible in scraps of newspaper and furtively carrying them off for their own more meagre supper.
For many of these Mexicans, life is getting harder. A fiscal reform that took effect on January 1st introduces a number of new taxes that are chiefly aimed at the rich but end up clobbering the poor. A value-added tax of 16% was slapped on various forms of public transport. In Mexico City the underground “metro” fare had already gone up before Christmas, a 66% increase from 3 pesos (23 cents) to 5 pesos. As part of a government drive to fight obesity (see article) the new levies also include a tax of 1 peso per litre on soft drinks and an 8% levy on some particularly calorific foods.