A Mexico without poverty and with rights
BY PEDRO BENITEZ-CRESPO
In Mexico, more than a third of the population lives in poverty, a circumstance that threatens the well-being of people and inhibits the exercise of the rights to education, health, protection and social security, as well as the right to decent housing and food.
Poverty has structural roots within the economy, but also in the actions and decisions of governments.
Recent figures from INEGI (National Institute of Statistic and Geography) on household income and spending, as well as those from CONEVAL (National Council for Evaluation of Social Development Policy) on poverty measurement, show some positive results in recent years; however, they also reveal alarming situations. An analysis by Citizen Action Against Poverty on these indicators shows serious realities that require attention and actions from both society and local governments.
The General Outlook
Between 2018 and 2022, some good news came to light due to a reduction in poverty from 42% to 36% of the population, yet sadly, extreme poverty grew. Today there are 400 thousand more people in the most serious condition of income and deprivation, a situation that affects 9.1 million people in this country!
Poverty is more prevalent in kids; 48% higher in children under five to 11 years of age, with long-lasting effects. The educational gap registers an increase of 1.5 million people, of which almost all are young people between 12 and 29 years of age. And the lack of access to social security remains the highest.
At a press conference to show the results of the analysis presented by Citizen Action Against Poverty, members of their Board of Directors highlighted with hard data, that several poverty-generating structures have not been transformed and some recent decisions have worsened the situation.
“To achieve a Mexico without poverty, it is urgent to guarantee state policies for the fulfillment of rights, such as decent work and productive entrepreneurship, education, healthcare and social protection, as well as the right to a healthy environment and the care of natural wealth for future generations, as well as the best interests of children as principle of law.”
In this way, Pilar Parás, Adalberto Saviñón and José Manuel Domínguez, Members of the Board of this organization, stated that it is essential to establish a state policy that guarantees, respects, protects and promotes human rights with equity and inclusion, as mandated in Article One of the Mexican Constitution.
Some figures in the state of Baja California Sur
Today in the state of Baja California Sur there are 119,000 unemployed people due to factors such as:
Gender exclusion: 97,000 people – 90% of which are women.
Hidden unemployment: 10,000 people; explained as people that need a job but were discouraged from looking for it.
General unemployment: 12,000 people.
On the other hand, there are 164,000 people who live under informal employment conditions, which means that they work without any protection whatsoever: no social security and no working rights or benefits.
Then there are 100,000 people who have a formal job but insufficient income to overcome the poverty line, which translates into a salary below US$500 dollars per month.
Roughly 73,000 people have also formal jobs, but with a surviving wage, meaning they surpass the poverty line, yet cannot be considered to have a decent income (a salary between US$500 dollars and US$1,100 dollars a month).
Last, but not least, around 48,000 people in the state of Baja California Sur have a formal job with a decent to high income, which translates into less than 22% of all the formal job positions out there.
In the face of the challenges that lie ahead, a series of proposals and urgent actions are proposed for the upcoming years, which will be presented soon, to those who aspire to be elected to office, both at the federal and local levels:
Transition from the paradigm of creating jobs with low salaries and without labor rights to a new model that links improvement in productivity, remuneration and labor rights.
Create a universal system of social protection, progressive and not conditional on work, a guaranteed floor of social rights, for all people that includes at least: access to healthcare services for girls, boys and other people who require them (sick, disabled, elderly) and guaranteed income for people without work or who cannot work.
Establish a minimum wage, sufficient to cover two baskets of goods and services, as well as incentives to boost the business sector’s decent income.
Generate a national care system with an adequate infrastructure and expansion of Full-Time Schools.
Create employability policies for young people, for those who have educational delays as well as apprenticeship and first-job programs.
Mexico is not a poor country. It is an upper-middle-income economy, with great productive and export capacity. The number and proportion of people in poverty is still unacceptable. The reduction of poverty shows that it is possible to advance further and faster by improving labor income.
The route to achieving a Mexico without poverty and with rights is a task that calls for everyone, without distinction of parties, ideologies or interests. It must be the priority of governments and society because poverty is a thief of dreams.
As Desmond Tutu once said on the African concept ubuntu, describing it as the essence of being human: that a person is a person only through other people, that my humanity is trapped in yours. I’m completely myself if you’re all you can be.