Here are some observations and questions from our time in Baja...
Why does food cost the same, or more, in Mexico than in the U.S.? Does this have something to do with NAFTA? Who benefits from trade agreements? Doesn't seem to be the regular people. In 2003 the per capita in come in Mexico was 9,300 per year. In U.S. and Canada, respectively, it was 37,000 and 31,000 per year. At the same time, Mexico's infant mortality rate was 24.9 kids per 1000 live births and U.S. and Canada, respectively were 6.7 and 5.2 deaths per live birth. (http://www.lisproject.org/publications/LISwps/418.pdf) Something's not working, and it isn't the Mexican people who aren't working. The communities we've entered on the Baja peninsula have been full of hard working, family minded people that don't mind helping each other out. Many of the homes have "cottage industries" in front. From taco stands to small hardware stores these people are using their resources to make their living.
Not only are the Mexicans we've met industrious and personable, they care about their communities. Two villages we've visited have had outside interests attempt to enter and take over property in the towns that was dedicated to their fishing occupations. One fishing coop was able to fight the hotel and a huge cruise ship dock that was slated to be built by outside investors. The other fishing coop fought and lost the marina and shipyard plans that are now being built along part the beach where they used to catch lobster.
We don't presume to know all of the variables or solutions in the situations mentioned above but we are committed to making known injustices as we see them. We are also committed to learning about the lives of the people we encounter and seeing them as equal members of our giant community, and taking action if it is appropriate. If any of our readers have relevant verifiable information about Mexico and its economics, we would love to hear your comments.
P.S. just found this in the article I referenced in the first paragraph of this post:
"Poverty is very strongly related to race and ethnicity in the US and to indigenous
status in Mexico. In the US, racial stigma and racial segregation continue to
affect the African American population, with seriously harmful results. In
Mexico, the indigenous population is isolated by geography, language, and
education level, and presents a serious challenge for poverty alleviation efforts.
Both countries need to be vigorous in combating discrimination and in making
opportunities available for the disadvantaged." This is a very good study and comparative analysis of the causes/indicators of poverty in the U.S. and in Mexico. It has many eye-opening statistics as well.