Going Back Down Mexico Way

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryLike everything in the news, stories of what is happening in almost any country can seem inconsistent. Mexico is certainly no exception to this. We hear about the violence of the drug cartels and gang killings. We hear about how the extreme poverty has caused people to leave in droves for the United States and beyond. We also hear about massive corruption in the government and judiciary. These things are true. However, another story is taking place that is equally true. More Mexicans are beginning to return to Mexico, and more Mexicans are beginning to stay in Mexico. Why? While America’s economy has hardly grown over the last four years, Mexico’s economy has shown growth. Last year, Mexico’s economy grew by four percent. In some parts of the country, the economy expanded to almost twice that rate. America’s overall growth rate for the same year was less than two percent. Because of this growth rate, Mexico’s unemployment rate fell by overall five percent. Contrast this with almost eight percent in the United States, the further loss of many manufacturing jobs, and a 9.8 percent unemployment rate for Latinos here.

Why is Mexico experiencing economic growth when the United States is not? One obvious reason is that it is cheaper to produce manufactured products in Mexico than in the United States. And unlike China, Mexico is right next to the United States. This means more job growth, and a very accessible market next door. Another important reason is due to the Mexican government’s policies of allowing economic growth. Even though former Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s policy on containing the drug cartels was a miserable failure, his policy of encouraging manufacturing, investment and agricultural production were successful. I firmly believe that his successor, current Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, will continue this policy. Because there is a lower unemployment rate, it means that there are more jobs available for Mexicans in their home country. It also means that a growing number of Mexicans will rise out of dire poverty. Interestingly enough, 14 percent of all Mexicans say they want to leave Mexico to look for work elsewhere. This is down from 21 percent in 2007. What it means is that fewer Mexicans are being pressured by the social and economic conditions within their country to leave. This is important. It means that people Mexico needs are now staying.

The largest immigrant groups coming to the United States now are from Asia (especially China and India), and from the countries of Central America. In the case of Asia, the sheer number of people within these countries is causing an increase of immigration to the United States. In the case of the Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Panama (although not as much in Nicaragua), the driving forces are extreme poverty and social problems such as gangs and high unemployment. A growing number of Central Americans are beginning to find work in Mexico. Mexico is a long way from being a prosperous, First World country. However, the growth of Mexico’s economy may have more influence in not only reducing poverty in the country but in possibly winding down the power of the drug cartels. Economic improvement may do more to end the power of the drug cartels than any military policy of the Mexican government. Of course, it is still too early to tell, and it is understandable for many Mexicans to hope that things will continue to improve economically.

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