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    Posted April 20, 2013 by

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    The real problem in Mexico

    Mexico, a country known for it’s vacation destinations and drug cartels, has been my home for the last 4 and a half years. During that time, I have learned how rich and diverse its’ culture, language and lifestyle is and have grown to appreciate the struggles and worries of the people.

    Contrary to popular belief, the Mexican people are not lazy, dumb or thieves. In fact, from my experience, they are completely the opposite. Mexican people are very well educated, polite, work hard to provide for their families and theft is massively lower than the United States or Canada. While all may say that Mexico is violent and dangerous, the fact is, the media hype only makes it appear so. Also, if you take out the statistics of drug related deaths, the murder rate falls to a point that would make most people shake their heads in wonder as to how the media can easily condemn a country based on sensationalized reports. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the natural death rate quite probably is higher than non-drug related murders. When I say drug related, I mean those involved in the distribution, sale and fabrication of drugs.

    However, that being said, what is the real plague to the country is the corruption. Quite probably you saw on the news when Enrique Peña Nieto was declared President of Mexico on U.S. news channels. The disturbing thing about that was that the polls hadn’t even closed here in Mexico when it was announced wolrd wide. The Mexican public was outraged since the PRI (Institution Revolution Party in English) has been in power for the better part of the last 40 years and has been proven over and over again to have ties with the Drug Cartels and has worked to make the rich sector richer and the poor sector poorer. The back scratching that happens and the Corporate in-breeding at companies such as PEMEX, the government run Petroleum Industry, as well as the lack of enforcement of labor laws and minimum wage payment, is absolutely sickening. The minimum wage is 65 pesos PER DAY! That’s roughly the equivalent of $5.50 per day. Many families live together as they cannot afford to pay rent, buy food, clothing and pay for their childrens schooling, among other daily expenses. Aside from that, an alarming amount of people don’t have any kind of health care. In cases such as those, a private consultation with a doctor runs around 500 pesos per visit. Any tests required are also paid for out of pocket which can run from 500 pesos (per test) up to over 1000 pesos. If surgery is required, the costs run around
    40,000 pesos and up.
    The government in Mexico does nothing to help the people. There is no welfare. The state run free clinics are so over run by patients and understaffed that at best, you can expect to receive sub standard care, and expect a wait of 2-3 days to see a doctor, of which I have first hand experience after being sent for emergency surgery.
    How does all this tie into the corruption?
    In a country that is rich in resources (Petroleum, Mining (gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, magnesium), Natural Gas, Agriculture (corn, wheat, soybeans, rice, beans, cotton, coffe, fruit, tomatoes; beef, poultry, dairy) and wood products), which is the 13th largest economy (1.231 trillion dollars - Source Wikipedia) how is it that people work until they physically can’t work anymore due to age because they have no pension, live in houses with fibre-glass roofs or without doors or windows and in more than a few cases I have personally seen, live without electricity, plumbing and cook with fire because they can’t afford to pay for those “luxuries”?
    However, you will see, beside the houses falling apart, a massive house with the latest model vehicle in the driveway, or two, and inside, flat screen televisions in every room and expensive furniture. It’s because of the culture of back-scratching that abounds in Mexico. It isn’t the person who’s best suited for the job that often gets the great jobs, it’s the person who knows someone or is the nephew or cousin of someone that works there.
    On the other side of the coin, we go to the public sector. First, of course, being the law enforcement. Police here walk around with pistols and sub-machine guns, wearing bullet-proof vests in the 32C or more weather. They have a dangerous job, yet receive a sub-standard wage for what a normal officer in Canada or the U.S. would earn between $40,000.00 to $70,000.00 per year. So, how do they augment their wage? They take bribes. If you run a red light, IF they actually stop you, your ticket would be between 800 to 1,200 pesos. Mosts people can’t afford that and don’t want the hassle of missing a day or two of work to go to court. So, instead the officer will usually say something like “What are we going to do?” (again, from personal experience), where usually you can discreetly slide them 100 pesos and be on your way. How probable is it that the people would actually start saying “Give me the ticket” to try and stop the corruption? It’s convenient for both parties, however, greed is an ugly beast and rarely does it stop there. In most areas, private and public, the employees are under-paid and over-worked. So, when they see an opportunity to exploit the services they offer, they take it. From money to properties to sex, almost anything is accepted in exchange for what someone wants. You want a business license but don’t have the money? If you’re female, chances are a “date” will be the offer made to get that license. If you’re male, well, sorry, come up with the cash or no license. You want your kids to get into a good private school but maybe their grades are too low, or
    there’s no room? No worries, a bribe will assure your child a spot.
    These are common, small examples of what plagues the country and threatens to keep it in a cycle of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. As well, easy prey for the Drug Cartels who offer a way of escaping poverty and providing your family with a good life, even if it costs you your own. The Zetas are known for hanging banners that say that if someone wants to join them, their families will be looked after and they will never be hungry again.
    Desperate, looking for a way to climb out of poverty and struggle, too many people turn to that path to try and provide for their families what they couldn’t legally.

    I love Mexico. I love the people, the culture, the customs, the diversity of the country. As anyone, anywhere does, the Mexican people want to be able to provide for their families and give their children better lives than what they had. It saddens me to see that without a government that is truly committed to working for the people, the Mexican people will continue to suffer or be forced (as is happening right now in some states) to create their own community governments in order to fight the corruption or something on a much larger scale that could tear the country apart.
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