Labor Unions in MexicoIn May 2019, workers won the right to form labor unions in Mexico. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), seven out of 10 Mexicans live in poverty or vulnerability. Meanwhile, the country’s minimum wage is $5.40 a day. Below are 10 facts about labor unions in Mexico and the promise of their implementation to alleviate Mexican poverty.

10 Facts About Labor Unions in Mexico

  1. Before the start of labor reform, thousands of Mexican workers went on strike for better pay, safer working conditions and union representation. The strikes shut down dozens of factories, resulting in 48 assembly plants agreeing to the workers’ demands.
  2. By granting workers the right to form labor unions, they can now engage in collective bargaining. This means that workers in Mexico, organized in a union, can negotiate their own pay, benefits and workplace conditions. Furthermore, they can provide a safeguard against workplace harassment and unlawful business practices.
  3. Many Mexican workers are already members of a union. Due to the fact that these unions completely exclude workers from their processes, however, others have dubbed them ghost unions. Employers establish these unions and they largely exist only on paper. Upon hiring, companies make workers join their union, which prevents workers from forming their own union and negotiating terms themselves. In fact, companies in Mexico force nine out of 10 union contracts without the consent, and sometimes knowledge, of their workers.
  4. Mexican President López Obrador implemented the new labor laws. He did this along with both branches of the Mexican congress in order to raise living standards, reduce crime and discourage migration to the United States. The left-wing president promises to carry out a “radical transformation” in Mexico, focusing on the needs of the poor and rooting out corruption.
  5. Wages in Mexico have fallen far behind the rate of inflation. The average hourly wage for a factory worker in Mexico, traditionally a unionized job, is approximately $2. Collective bargaining gives workers the right to negotiate wages, ensuring that workers have the efficacy to reduce the gap between inflation and pay.
  6. Depending on the collective bargaining contract, many unions provide protections against workplace harassment and unjust employee termination. Human Rights Watch (HRW) identifies forced pregnancy tests and mistreatment of migrant workers as areas of particular concern in Mexico. Employee complaints led to no change in business practices, but union contracts give workers the opportunity to push the issue in order to protect the most vulnerable among them.
  7. HRW and Mexican workers cite unsafe workplace conditions. These indicate employees need more robust labor protections. President Obrador campaigned on a promise to improve workers’ conditions through union representation. The need for better conditions is clear; HRW described some workplaces in Mexico as “life-threatening.”
  8. According to the OECD, 71 percent of the value created by corporations in Mexico goes to shareholders. On the other hand, workers receive only 28 percent. Employees in the United States, on the other hand, have a 69 percent share, and shareholders receive 21 percent of the value created. The disproportionate share exists as evidence of a lack of workers’ representation and labor unions in Mexico can help reverse the trend.
  9. The North American Free Trade Agreement included provisions in order to protect workers’ rights. According to HRW, people often ignored those provisions, especially in Mexico. The recent labor reform comes on the heels of a renegotiated trade deal, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The USMCA seeks to, among other things, reduce the gap between workers’ protections in all three signatories.
  10. While labor unions will not completely alleviate Mexican poverty, the country can expect to make some gains. As the share of the value created by corporations becomes more evenly distributed among workers, the Mexican economy will benefit as a whole. Put simply, a larger share of the money will remain in Mexico due to union representation.

Stronger worker protections in Mexico promise to strengthen its middle-class and help the poor. By reducing the degree of poverty, Mexico can also expect to enjoy greater stability. Labor unions in Mexico present an opportunity for economic expansion, foreign investment and an entirely new market for consumer goods.

– Kyle Linder
Photo: Google Images

Soda Tax in MexicoType 2 diabetes recently became one of the leading causes of death in Mexico. The number of diabetes-related deaths will continue to rise. Furthermore, scientists have predicted that at least half of Mexico’s population will have diabetes by 2050. Conditions such as being overweight and obesity have strong links to the development of Type 2 diabetes. In response to the growing health concerns associated with obesity and diabetes, the soda tax in Mexico has been implemented to reduce liquid sugar consumption and promote healthier lifestyle choices.

Tax on Soda

Mexico has historically been a top consumer of sugar-sweetened beverages. In 2012, the average person consumed 176 liters per year. Mexico made the world’s top consumer of soda per capita.

The popularity of sugary drinks has come with negative consequences. As soda consumption rose, the number of people suffering from obesity and diabetes in Mexico also increased. While sugar-sweetened beverages were not the only drivers of the weight-related problems plaguing the country, they did receive the most attention from health officials.

In 2014, Mexico began taxing all sugar-sweetened drinks. The tax roughly increased the price of the sugary drinks by one peso per liter. The purpose behind the soda tax was twofold:

  1. Reduce the consumption of liquid sugar that contributed to high obesity and diabetes rates.
  2. Increase funding for public health-based programs to promote healthy lifestyle choices.

Mexico’s Struggle with Diabetes

The soda tax in Mexico was an important step in the country’s fight against diabetes. In 2018, a report found that nearly one-third of the Mexican population was living with diabetes. The most common form diagnosed was Type 2 diabetes, which causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to be higher than normal. The exact cause remains unclear, but obesity was strongly linked to the development of Type 2 diabetes.

Link Between Obesity and Diabetes

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that a healthy diet includes the consumption of about 2,000 calories per day. The average Mexican adult consumes over 3,000 calories per day. Mexico has one of the highest obesity rates in the world. The number of Mexican adults suffering from obesity rose from 20.5 million in 2012 to 24.3 million in 2016.

Food insecurity and undernourishment were the leading causes of obesity, especially among the poor. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) found that unreliable access to food contributed to multiple health conditions. In addition, much of the food produced in Mexico was high in carbs and fats. Mexican farmers favored crops that were cheap and easy to grow (like corn) instead of focusing on their nutritional value. Consequently, the average Mexican diet has higher carbs and fats than recommended.

The poor have been the most vulnerable to obesity. A study found that poor communities had obesity rates 145 percent greater than wealthy communities. The stress of food insecurity and undernourishment impair the poor from making the best food choices for their health.“When household resources for food become scarce, people choose less expensive foods that are often high in calories and low in nutrients,” explained the FAO.

Did the Soda Tax Work?

Diabetes has no cure. While medication is a big part of treatment, most doctors recommend a lifestyle change for diabetics looking to keep their blood glucose levels under control. The “Soda Tax” sought to help with the lifestyle change by saving people who avoided sugary drinks money.

Since 2014, the sales of sugar-sweetened beverages have dropped throughout Mexico. Sales dropped by 5.5 percent the first year. By the second year, sales were down by 9.7 percent. The sales of untaxed beverages increased by about 2 percent. However, the calorie intake of the average person has remained unchanged.

– Paola Nuñez
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Child Labor in Mexico
Childhood is a time for growth, development and play; however, in countries like Mexico, countless boys and girls are deprived of what makes them children. Poverty in Mexico has forced many children to abandon play and begin employment. Child labor in Mexico is an issue that the country struggles to overcome, and these 10 facts about child labor in Mexico present the reasons the country has yet to defeat this phenomenon.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Mexico

1. The high rate of child labor in Mexico is due to large amounts of poverty across the country. As of 2016, 43.6 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. This means that nearly half of the population is experiencing significant financial burdens, which often result in a lack of food, adequate living conditions and educational opportunities. With almost half of the population of Mexico experiencing this high rate of poverty, it is no surprise that Mexico has the highest rate of poverty in all of North America.

2. Around 3.6 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 in Mexico are employed. Of this, nearly 870,000 are under the age of 13.

3. In Latin America 50 percent of all employed children live in Mexico. Latin America is spread across 33 countries and home to 626 million people. While Mexico is not the largest country in population or size in Latin America, it has the highest number of employed children.

4. Mexico’s Federal Labor Law prohibits children who are under the age of 14 to work. Furthermore, children under the age of 16 may not participate in what they call “unhealthy or hazardous work.” This type of work is defined as anything that may be detrimental to the child’s health, including work with various chemicals and industrial night labor. This law is in place in order to ensure the physical and mental health of children, along with safeguarding proper development.

5. In Mexico, the Department of Labor is responsible for protecting workers’ rights, including monitoring child labor; however, the enforcement of child labor laws is minimal and ineffective in smaller companies, agricultural work and construction. Yet, it is in these areas that the majority of child labor in Mexico takes place.

6. Under Mexican law, children under 16 are not allowed to work more than six hours per day. Despite this law, almost 97 percent of children work more than 35 hours per week, which is well above the legal six hours per day.

7. Children often drop out of school in order to help provide financially for their families. If they do not drop out of school, many children must work on top of attending school to help their families survive. The older the child is, the more this phenomenon occurs. For instance, by the age of 17, one-third of Mexicans are working. For families experiencing extreme poverty in Mexico, education is just another financial burden and is second to earning a salary and making a contribution.

8. More children who live in the north and in the countryside are employed, compared with their counterparts in the city and in the south. For example, 12 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 13 are employed in the southern states like Guerrero, whereas merely 1.4 percent of those children are working in the north, in states like Chihuahua.

9. Employed children in Mexico often work in difficult conditions that put their health at risk. Child labor in Mexico often revolves around children working with and carrying heavy materials, such as wood and cement. Further, children are often fieldworkers and servants.

10. Fortunately, the rate of child labor in Mexico has been slowly decreasing due to programs like Oportunidades. This Mexican anti-poverty program is working on decreasing child labor in Mexico by providing families with educational grants. With these grants, more children will be able to stay in school instead of working. The Oportunidades program has helped more than four million families and counting.

Child labor in Mexico continues to be an ongoing problem that the country faces. Still, with each new generation, statistics change and circumstances improve. With the help of anti-poverty programs, newer generations of Mexicans are realizing the importance of education and a fulfilling childhood. Lowering poverty in Mexico will not only lessen the amount of child labor, but also save the childhoods of boys and girls who deserve more than just a salary.

– Melissa Quist
Photo: Flickr

9 Facts About Human Trafficking in MexicoHuman trafficking in Mexico has recently risen to have the country become one of the most popular trafficking destinations in the world. This is largely due to its high level of corruption and powerful drug-cartels that support the illicit practice. This has been coupled with the nation’s growing national awareness toward the issue. The recent government attempts to combat it through policy change reflect this. Additionally, there is an emergence of organizations designed to reintegrate victims of human trafficking in Mexico into society.

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is the third most lucrative industry in the world. It is characterized as a form of exploitation through the act of obtaining someone for (often sexual) services and subjecting them to a form of involuntary servitude. Its somewhat confusing and wide-ranged definition creates a vast multitude of unique cases, allowing many criminals to slip through the cracks. Many countries all of the world struggle with passing sufficient anti-human-trafficking policy. This partially explains its prevalence and therefore profitability worldwide.

9 Facts about Human Trafficking in Mexico

  1. Poor Data and Broad Targets
    Much of the criticism surrounding past Mexican administrations failure to fix the problem focuses on two pillars: poor data and broad targets. The leading government commission appointed to human trafficking (the Inter-Ministerial Commission Against Human Trafficking) reports positive results. However, its technical secretary has spoken out, saying the data is unreliable. Additionally, while high ambitions seem good in principle, goals will be stunted if they are not broken into manageable parts. This was certainly the case for past administrations, according to Monica Salazar, head of non-profit Dignificando el Trabajo. Salazar blames past administrations with a lack of clarity, which made priorities vague and indeterminate.
  2. Its Prominence in Mexico
    While human trafficking ranks third internationally for most lucrative markets, it is second in Mexico. The country has also assumed the number one rank for female sex-trafficking and makers of child pornography in the Americas. Much of that comes from the government’s corruption and inability to control the drug-cartels that wreak havoc across the country. These groups are largely responsible for the kidnapping of women and children into the sex and slave trade.
  3. States Lacking Compliance
    Many states are in tune with Salazar’s comments on Mexico’s grandiose plans to combat the issue of human trafficking in Mexico. Out of the 21 states, 12 have still not updated their legislation to be in accordance with the most recent national law on human trafficking. Their failure to adhere to this mandate is telling as to why the country has made little progress on the issue.
  4. International Roots
    A large misconception regarding trafficking is that it does not just involve citizens of the country it takes place in. In Mexico, many victims are solicited from surrounding countries, and from Eastern Europe over the internet. On the opposite end, many culprits of the trafficking travel to Mexico because of its loosely-regulated trafficking reputation.
  5. Tenancingo: An Epicenter for Trafficking
    Despite its small size and a population of only 13,000, Tenancingo wields an international human trafficking presence. Susan Coppedge, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, says young girls from small rural communities across the country are unfamiliar with its reputation. They are therefore are not suspicious of men from there.
  6. Recent Decriminalization of Sex Work
    Next in these facts about human trafficking in Mexico is that Mexico City recently started momentum towards anti-sex trafficking legislation. It did this by unanimously passing a bill that indirectly decriminalized sex work. The bill removed a law which stated that prostitutes and their clients could be fined if neighbors complained. Although the latter part already made the law unreliable, it still marks a start of anti-sex-trafficking legislation under President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
  7. Local Combat Organizations Are Best
    Since human trafficking maintains many different forms, it can largely go unnoticed and disappear in the shadows. However, the optimal way to tackle this issue is to let local organizations that are well-versed in their particular areas take charge. With adequate funding from the government, these groups accomplish a lot to help the current situation in Mexico.
  8. These Organizations Exist
    But they do not have enough government support. These nonprofits work behind the scenes with a policy such as the decriminalization of sex work. However, they do not receive the funding they deserve. For the government to live up to its goals of making real progress on eliminating human trafficking in Mexico, they must dedicate the finances to their objectives.
  9. There is a Need for Proper Training
    A large portion of government money allocated to ending human trafficking should be dedicated to the training of people working at groups to end it. The broad nature of human trafficking packages each case differently. Therefore, training and hiring people in and from many different backgrounds will best help alleviate the issue.

How to Help

A final word about human trafficking in Mexico is that groups such as Polaris provide direct funding to disrupt the human trafficking trade in Mexico. By advocating for them, as well as The Borgen Project, they grow in influence and stand a better chance of grabbing the government’s attention.

– Liam Manion
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Mexico's indigenous communitiesMexico’s indigenous communities experience poverty at nearly double the rate of the population at large, with a whopping 80.6 percent of indigenous people living on less than two dollars a day. Extreme poverty goes in hand with issues like food insecurity and a lack of access to education, healthcare and clean water. Only half of Mexico’s indigenous people have a primary school education, and poor indigenous communities have a lower life expectancy than the rest of Mexico’s population because they haven’t been provided with the same infrastructure to develop their communities as non-indigenous populations have. However, there are efforts being made to address poverty in Mexico’s indigenous communities by developing these communities sustainably and integrating them into Mexico’s economy, without erasing their cultures and traditions.

Cultural Diversity Among Mexico’s Indigenous Communities

Mayans and other indigenous people in Mexico are isolated from other communities and continually hurt by public policies that fail to fully integrate the diverse populations living in a state or region. Mexico is one of the most diverse countries in Latin America, with around 68 different indigenous communities making up around one-fifth of the country’s population. Combating poverty in Mexico’s indigenous communities, without leaving one group at a disadvantage, is difficult when there are so many different cultures present. These communities are all still living with the legacy of Spanish colonialism, which robbed native peoples of their resources and stifled their cultural practices and traditions. Assimilating indigenous communities might seem like a way to foster unity, but this practice has resulted in native communities with very limited autonomy and renders development programs that don’t account for cultural diversity ineffective and inaccessible to indigenous communities.

In response to this issue, Mexico’s National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy has advocated for a “full inclusion approach,” in which all Mexicans have equal access to development through education, healthcare and job stimulation that account for cultural diversity among indigenous communities. With public policy that intentionally prioritizes full inclusion, the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy hopes that indigenous communities will be able to compete in the labor market, gain access to social security and rise out of poverty without sacrificing their languages and traditions. This may be the best way to address poverty in Mexico’s indigenous communities.

Anti-Poverty and Development Efforts

The Mayan community of Quintana Roo has experienced efforts to combat poverty that have both ignored and accounted for cultural difference. The Mayan community is heavily reliant on ejido lands, or communal land that has been farmed and forested by the community for centuries. Largely with the intention to combat poverty among Quintana Roo’s Mayan population, but also in response to a surge in the tourism industry, wealthy developers began privatizing ejidos. Mayans were included in these private development projects, but their traditional farming, forestry and beekeeping practices were not. Therefore, when external funding ran out, the locals were unable to continue the work or reap any rewards for their communities.

However, when development projects have worked within existing ejidos, such as the World Bank’s Dedicated Grant Mechanism (DGM), all decisions are left up to the indigenous communities. The DGM in Quintana Roo provided ejidos with the funding to design and implement sustainable farm and forestry businesses. Juan Ortegon of Ejido Miguel Colorado wrote that Mayans had “never been consulted in the past,” and that these bottom-up development projects finally allowed Mayans to address the needs of their communities.

The Future of Addressing Poverty in Mexico’s Indigenous Communities

Positive steps are being made to combat poverty in Mexico’s indigenous communities, but development programs stand the greatest chance of success when they not only account for cultural diversity but embrace it, allowing indigenous people to make decisions for themselves.

– Macklyn Hutchison
Photo: Flickr

Latin American Drug Cartels Target Impoverished Children

Drug cartels are a rising problem everywhere, especially for those that are in poverty. Children, specifically children in poverty, are generally the most vulnerable population anywhere in the world. Latin American drug cartels target impoverished children specifically due to their innocence and willingness to obey. Although this situation seems unfixable, people are uniting together against Latin American drug cartels, providing much needed hope.

The Situation

In Latin America, 43 percent of children live in poverty. These children’s come from families with no money for food, clothing or shelter. Cartels know the struggles of these children, so they offer them work. Because many feel they have no choice but to accept work from Latin American drug cartels, 80 percent of children under 25 agree to work for them.

Young children in Mexico and other Latin American countries draw less suspicion than older individuals and are willing to work for little money. As a result, the cartels use them in every way possible. Cartels often send children unaccompanied to push drugs across borders. Subsequently, border security will help unaccompanied children, thus enabling drug traffickers to smuggle drugs across borders.

How Countries Combat Drug Cartels

Luckily for these children, countries are taking steps to eliminate cartels. Recently, Mexico initiated a joint investigative team with the U.S. to fight against drug cartels. The U.S. and Mexico have worked together to combat cartels since the 1970s. For instance, one program, the Merida Initiative, worked to stop the flow of illegal weapons from the U.S. into Mexico and, subsequently, Latin American cartels. Similarly, the U.S. and Mexico offer amnesty to drug dealers in exchange for information.

This new joint investigative team is based in Chicago and directly targets cartel finances. Cartels survive by distributing goods to suppliers and laundering money. Therefore, disrupting their finances and cracking down on money laundering will drastically slow their production. In doing so, the team intends to weaken and ultimately stop Latin American drug cartels.

How Nonprofit Organizations and KIND Help

Nonprofit organizations band together to help the children that drug smugglers employed previously. One organization in particular, KIND, is dedicated to offering such help. KIND protects children’s rights when unaccompanied children are detained by the U.S. and when they are on the move. KIND ensures detained children receive necessary legal aid, especially as these children are burdened with an immigration system they do not understand.

With the U.S. and Mexico targeting drug cartels’ financial assets and nonprofit organizations providing the necessary help, there is hope to eliminate drug cartels and keep vulnerable children safe. The U.S. and Mexico, along with nonprofit organizations, are executing solutions to keep drug cartels away from children and shut them down altogether.

– Emme Chadwick
Photo: Pixabay

al otro ladoMore than 4,000 asylum seekers in Tijuana have written their names on a waitlist in hopes of presenting themselves at the U.S. port of entry. It is unclear how the list began since the U.S. government doesn’t claim jurisdiction and neither does Mexico. Regardless, the waitlists are followed and migrants’ names are slowly crossed off as they are brought to state their cases. Most asylum-seekers are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, many of whom are fleeing gang violence, political instability and extreme poverty. Al Otro Lado and other nonprofits are helping the migrant crisis.

The Migrant Crisis

Central Americans from the caravan have been labeled everything from refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants to invaders, aliens and criminals. However, despite widespread disagreement and confusion about the caravan, U.S. immigration and international laws dictate that people have the legal right to seek asylum. Asylum seekers’ have the right to present their cases to an immigration officer, but with so many asylum-seekers to process, thousands of individuals and families are left waiting in limbo.

As Policy Analyst at the American Immigration Council Aaron Reichlin-Melnick explains, “The government would argue that high [asylum] denial rates indicate they’re fraudulent asylum claims… the more likely answer is that people are genuinely afraid for their lives–they may not know the ins and outs of a complex asylum system.” For many nonprofits, the situation is clearly a refugee crisis, and they treat it like one. Since caravans began arriving at the border, humanitarian organizations have been on the ground providing shelter, medical care and legal assistance. This is one way that Al Otro Lado is helping.

Al Otro Lado

Al Otro Lado is a legal services nonprofit based in Los Angeles, San Diego and Tijuana. Over the last four months, Al Otro Lado has helped more than 2,000 migrants in Tijuana while also fighting larger battles to protect the legal rights of asylum seekers. Operating out of an Enclave Caracol, a three-story community center turned migrant shelter, Al Otro Lado provides legal orientation and know-your-rights training to asylum seekers waiting in Tijuana.

Though Al Otro Lado is focused on upholding international and U.S. law, it is not immune to the controversy and violence that has accompanied the migrant caravan. The organization and its staff have received death threats, and co-directors Erika Pineiro and Nora Phillips were detained and forced to leave Mexico in January. Still, Al Otro Lado continues their operations in Tijuana, but now they just unplug their phones between calls to cut down on the death threats.

Other Notable Organizations Helping the Migrant Crisis

  1. In April 2018, Food Not Bombs served food to migrants out of the Enclave Caracol community center. They accepted donations of food, spices and reusable plates among other items.
  2. UNICEF works with the Mexican government to provide safe drinking water and other necessities to asylum seekers. The organization also provides psychosocial services and trains authorities on child protection.
  3. Save the Children provides emergency services, legal representation, case management and works to reunite migrant families.
  4. Amnesty International, like Al Otro Lado, is concerned with upholding immigration law. The organization monitors the actions of Mexican authorities at the border and also documents the situations and conditions that migrants face.

Organizations like Al Otro Lado, Save the Children and Amnesty International see the migrant caravan as a humanitarian issue beyond party politics. They have wasted no time supporting migrants and asylum-seekers who have risked their lives journeying to the border. However, unless governments and organizations address the larger issues that led the people to leave in the first place, they will continue migrating. Faced with violence, persecution and poverty, it’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t do the same.

Kate McIntosh

Photo: Flickr

Drug Use in MexicoSouth of the border of the United States of America, the United States of Mexico is trying to stay afloat from rapid increase and usage of drugs throughout the country. However, current president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has officially declared the end of the country’s war on drugs. In fact, he has declared peace over the nation. Below are some important facts about drug use in Mexico.

Drug Use in Mexico: The Numbers

Based on drug sales alone from Mexico to America, Mexican drug cartels take in about $19 billion to $29 billion annually.

In the time span of five years, nearly 48,000 people have been killed in suspected drug-related violence. In addition, there has been an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 killed due to the War on Drugs. This is since the beginning of Calderon’s presidency.

The War on Drugs and Civilian Defense

Recently, a force called autodefensas (autodefenses) has popped up around the country to help with the defense against drug cartels on their communities.

At the start of President Felipe Calderon election, he sent over 6,000 soldier’s into the state of Michoacán to help fight against the drug cartels that were ravishing Michoacán. As a result, this action began the War on Drugs.

From the start of the War on Drugs, civilians have formed their own ways of defending their country and communities. In fact, the movement of autodefansas doubled within seven years, starting at 250 members and reaching to 600 by 2013.

Next, the cartels are prone to ravish a community by exploiting business owners and forcing payments on the town without legal reasons for doing so. This keeps the cycle of poverty within the country swirling, certainly making it harder for people to break free of drug use or to make profits from their businesses.

The autodefensas groups formed out of a need to protect and supervise their neighborhoods from the corruption of the drug cartel. With men such as Alfredo Castillo, the Security Commissioner for the state of Michoacán, and Estanislao Beltran, they are attempting to break the cycle of the War on Drugs. Additionally, they hope to again be able to use their profits and agriculture to profit the well-being of their state and country.

Drug Use in Mexico

In 2016-2017, a national survey was done on Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco Consumption (ENCODAT) to determine the highest states of drug use in Mexico.

Top Five Highest States of Drug Consumption:

  1. Quintana Roo
  2. Jalisco
  3. Baja California
  4. Coahuila
  5. Aguascalientes

The survey consists of data from the age range of 12 to 65 per state. It concludes with the top three drugs (in no particular order of highest to lowest per state) to be marijuana, cocaine and amphetamines.

Finally, the earliest age of drug use, on average, begins at the age of 17 for men and 18 for women.

How is Mexico Moving Towards Decreasing Drug Use?

ENCODAT is an organization that desires to bring awareness to the people about the effects of drugs. Additionally, the organization wants to advocate for the effects of the body. It also aims to implement life-long strategies that will improve each community.

Forums are set in place to discuss specific detriments to the body and community. ENDOCAT wants to bring about and encourage public spaces that are safe for both children and adults. They also want to change the perception that drug use is merely a criminal act. They aim in drug use being perceived as a health problem that needs treatment and care.

Through ENCODAT and awareness of the War on Drugs, drug use in Mexico can continue to decrease. Mexico is projected to no longer be one of the leading countries of drug use in the world.

– Hannah Vaughn
Photo: Flickr

Life expectancy in Mexico
Before jumping into this discussion about life expectancy in Mexico, it seems important to explain the importance of measuring life expectancy when attempting to solve the problem of global poverty. Life expectancy, just like malnutrition and infant mortality statistics, shows how well a certain country is living.

If you notice that a country has high life expectancy rates while malnutrition rates are low, one can assume said country has beneficial living conditions and most likely, low poverty rates. From certain facts about life expectancy in Mexico, one will not be able to the whole story about living conditions and poverty in Mexico but will be able to gain some insight on how do Mexicans live.

Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Mexico

  1. Mexico’s life expectancy in 2018 was at 77.5 years, up from 76.9 in 2015. Mexico’s overall growth in average life expectancy increases by 0.24 percent annually. As a middle-class country that is still dealing with cases of extreme poverty and violence, Mexico scores much better than the global average life expectancy of 72 years. However, much work still needs to be done to improve living conditions to ensure higher life expectancy in Mexico.
  2. Between 2005 and 2015, average life expectancy in Mexico actually declined. Life expectancy in the country was 77.8 years for women and 72.6 for men in 2005, but by 2015 the figures decreased to 77.6 for women and 71.9 for men. This is in stark contrast to most of the world where life expectancies are rapidly increasing elsewhere. According to the National Population Council (CONAPO) report, recent fluctuations in life expectancy are a reflection of changes in mortality levels due to the increase in older adults and deaths related to diabetes mellitus and violent causes.
  3. There is a noticeable gap between life expectancies based on the various regions in Mexico. For example, in 2015, Mexico City was the region with the highest life expectancy at 76.2, while Guerrero had the lowest life expectancy at 72.7.
  4. Life expectancy in Mexico is predicted to increase to 79 years by 2050. The gap between the highest life expectancies in a state and the lowest is supposed to shrink as well from the 3.5 years in 2015 to 1.7 years in 2050.
  5. It is predicted by the Lancet, that because of United States’ stagnancy in life expectancy, as well as increases of this category by Mexico, the two countries will be on par with each other in life expectancy by 2030. It should be noted that this comparison was based on women’s life expectancies in these two countries.
  6. Heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes, in that order, are the biggest killers in Mexico. However, from 2007 to 2017, deadly interpersonal violence skyrocketed 215 percent to become Mexico’s fourth biggest killer of people.
  7. Diabetes is such an epidemic in Mexico that in 2017 Mexico declared a national emergency to combat this disease and to provide support and better care for the 13 million Mexicans that currently have diabetes. The country has tried to prevent it with a soda tax and a public awareness campaign. Among the 35 countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Mexico accounts for the most hospitalizations related to diabetes.
  8. Before 2007, around 10,000 people were murdered each year in Mexico. However, since the start of the war on drug trafficking in Mexico, homicide rates have increased. In 2018, a new record was set as 28,816 people were murdered. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took office in December 2018, has promised to “calm” the country after 12 years of a militarized crackdown on drug-related organized crime.
  9. The United States gives $290 million a year to Mexico in foreign aid and nearly three-quarters of that money goes to counternarcotics programs. The drug wars in Mexico are very bloody and obviously create conditions that are violent and unsafe. It is not a bad decision to fund the solving of the violent drug problem in Mexico, but the U.S. would undoubtedly benefit in putting more money into programs that would better the living conditions in Mexico directly. Only $500,000 of the funds went to emergency response. Very little money, if any, is given to Mexico to create better water access and 21st-century technology that can increase life expectancy in Mexico.
  10. The infant mortality rate in Mexico is 11.60 deaths per 1,000 births. This statistic places Mexico in a better ranking than countries like Brazil, Saudi Arabia and China. However, Mexico’s rate is still double than that of the United States. 

To be certain, Mexico, just like every country on this Earth, can do better in terms of creating the conditions to make life expectancy rise, as well as making poverty fall. To those that may not know much about Mexico’s performance in the eradication of poverty and its symptoms, this fact sheet hopefully gave insight into what life might currently be like in this Central American country and what can be improved.

Kurt Thiele

Photo: Flickr

Eight Facts To Know about Mexican Immigration
The topic of immigration is inescapable in contemporary American politics. Political figures, news sources, late-night TV shows, other media outlets- it seems this topic is constantly being talked about. This coverage has created a flood of information about immigration in the United States, particularly about immigration from Mexico. But not all of this information is accurate. In the text below, eight facts about Mexican immigration are presented in an attempt to shed a light on this topic.

Eight Facts About Mexican Immigration

  1. Most unauthorized immigrants in the United States actually entered the country legally and have just overstayed their temporary visas. For the seventh year in a row, the number of people who have overstayed visas is far greater than the number who illegally crossed the Southern border. In addition, in 2017, undocumented immigrants from Mexico accounted for less than half of the undocumented population in the United States.
  2. Many immigrants crossing the United States’ Southern border are from Central America, not Mexico. The majority of the migrants from Central America come from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
  3. Immigrants from Mexico and Central America are typically fleeing poverty, violence and crime as approximately 44 percent of Mexicans, 60.9 percent of Hondurans, 59.3 percent of Guatemalans and 38.2 percent of Salvadorans live beneath the poverty line. El Salvador also has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Gang violence, drug trafficking and political corruption are prevalent in these nations.
  4. Mexican immigration into the United States has actually been declining since the mid-2000s, and so has the number of apprehensions at the Southern border.
  5. In the 2006 fiscal year, more than one million immigrants were apprehended at the Southern border. In the 2017 fiscal year, this number was 303,916. This decline in migration is a result of numerous factors. First, the decrease in labor demand in sectors that employ the majority of Mexican immigrants, such as construction, is a major contributor to this decline. With fewer jobs available, fewer Mexicans have immigrated to the U.S. and many have returned to Mexico. This decrease in jobs was in part due to the recession in the late 2000s. The second cause of decreasing emigration is the improvement in the Mexican economy. In the 1980s, Mexico was in a deep economic crisis, but since the late 1990s, the country has experienced economic stability and modest growth.
  6. Though the standard of living for most Mexican families has improved, a majority of Mexicans are not optimistic about the economy and the direction of the country. One-third of them would still migrate to the U.S.
  7. Demographic changes in Mexico’s population have also contributed to decreased emigration. Drastically declining fertility rates have decreased the number of people entering the workforce each year, leading to an increase in labor demand and wages. In addition, many Mexican immigrants are fathers searching for work to support their families. Lower birth rates have reduced the size of Mexican families, lessening the financial burden on parents and making it possible for fathers to support their families without emigrating to the U.S.
  8. The United States’ increased border enforcement in the past two decades has also lowered the Mexican immigration rate. U.S. Border Patrol funding has skyrocketed since 1992, which has enabled the agency to increase its staff by more than 400 percent. However, this increase in border enforcement predated the decline in migration by more than 10 years, suggesting that this is not the main cause of decreasing immigration.

Poverty, violence, crime and corruption are the root causes of immigration from Mexico and Central America into the United States. International cooperation to fund development and alleviate global poverty addresses these root causes and is key to reducing immigration. The United Nations stresses the importance of global cooperation in addressing international immigration and the Council of Foreign Relations asserts that large-scale migration can be managed only with a global governance framework.

With the increased life standard in Mexico and more opportunities in the country, Mexican immigration to the United States can be reduced in a less painful way. Reducing immigration is important not because immigration is inherently bad, but because people should not have to flee their homes to have a safe, financially stable life. They should have the opportunity to immigrate to another country if they choose, but should also be able to lead a safe, stable, prosperous life in their home country.

– Laura Turner
Photo: Flickr