Mexico is a land of contrast. A wide mosaic where it is possible, even likely, to go from one extreme to the other in a matter of seconds or even contemplate them in the same landscape, casually living side by side with normalcy, or I would dare say, indifference; a deep indifference born from the social resentment passed down, historically and culturally, for generations. It is not by chance that this nation is home to both, the richest man in the world, Mr. Carlos Slim, and Doña Peti – an elderly grandmother that lives in the threshold of urban poverty surviving with less than a dollar a day.

The purpose of this short post series is not to be yet another summary of pessimism surrounding our faults as society; but to make a critical analysis that touches some of the most controversial and difficult social topics, key factors on the every day workings of our social structure. Mexico is not a “poor country”, it is a deeply unequal nation. Mexico has great human, economic and natural resources with infinite potential. A talented and diverse nation that has not believed in itself, that has fought with itself, that has made a very clear and wide distinction between socioeconomic classes, where social mobility is nearly impossible for some families and not even a possibility for others. A social structure reminiscent of the rigid system of racial castes imposed during the Spanish empire and that lasted until Mexico’s independence in 1821.

It is worthwhile to remember the wonderful civilization of Tula-Xicocotitlán[1], where men were described as “rich, because their wit and skills made them find riches anywhere”[2]. They were seen suspiciously by their aggressive neighbors who still found faith in an ideology full of magic that ruled their cosmos. It is evident that our social structure has failed, when 46.2%[3] of the population lives in extreme or moderate poverty. Even the term “moderate” poverty seems an absurd euphemism, a silly “sugar coating” that fails to convey the multiple factors that make poverty a multidimensional phenomenon with repercussions in every aspect of an individual’s life; measurable and unmeasurable repercussions from the lack of access to basic needs such as housing, education, food, health services and social security. When an individual lacks any of these, it means poverty.

[1] Tula-Xicotitlán: Capital of the state, where the main political power of the Valley of Mexico was seated.

[2] Found in Codex Matritense, which consists of short entries, accompanied by drawings, that serve as an analytic dictionary of terms in the Náhuatl language.

[3] Estimations based on the Census of Population and Housing 2010. Mexico.

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