A few more pesos, a lot more stress

Photo by Flickr user Aleiex

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.

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The majority of poor in Mexico are children – UN report

education - school childrenUN News Centrer, 4/3/2013

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.

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Despite greater social mobility, a significant gap exists between the rich and poor – #MexFacts

MexFact - Inequality

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Mexico isn’t a gangland gunbattle

Op-ed, Shannon O’Neil, USA Today, 11/25/2012

The neighbor Americans believe they have to the south, and the Mexico that has developed over the last 20 years, are two different places. As Mexico’s incoming president Enrique Peña Nieto meets with President Obama this week, the biggest challenge facing relations today may be our skewed perceptions.

In Americans’ psyches, drugs dominate. When advertising firm GSD&M and Vianovo strategic consultants asked Americans to come up with three words that describe Mexico, nearly every other person answered “drugs,” followed by “poor” and “unsafe.” Other questions reveal Americans see Mexico as corrupt, unstable and violent, more problem than partner. Americans had more favorable views of Greece, El Salvador and Russia.

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