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Another six years lost in the battle against poverty

The scene repeats itself: a woman as mayor and his family moved to the capital fleeing poverty. Mary, of 65 years, left Santiago Mexquititlán (Querétaro, centra

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Another six years lost in the battle against poverty

The scene repeats itself: a woman as mayor and his family moved to the capital fleeing poverty. Mary, of 65 years, left Santiago Mexquititlán (Querétaro, central Mexico), a village inhabited by the indigenous otomi, with the hope of starting a new life. “When there was no harvest, just had to eat,” she said. But Mexico City has ended up not being much better; she sells sweets and cigarettes on the Paseo de la Reforma, the artery that crosses the capital from east to west, and earns about 50 pesos a day (2.5 dollars). Is the price of a piece of cake at a café in the area. Mary is one of the faces of the six-year period that comes to an end: even if the extreme lack has receded, the low economic growth and a social policy insufficient are behind the stagnation of the general poverty, a wound that is still as open as when Enrique Peña Nieto became president in 2012.

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First, the good news: extreme poverty —a multi-dimensional measure that summarizes the situation in which the individual may not access the food and most basic assets— has gone from affecting ten out of every 100 mexicans to something less than eight—, according to data from coneval is used, the independent body in charge of reviewing the social policy. The reason for this decline is to be found in the greater coverage of the systems of health and social security. Second, the bad news: moderate poverty —the population whose incomes are below the line of welfare— has risen both in absolute numbers —something logical, taking into account the population increase— as a percentage — the more worrisome, although a good part of the new members are people who came from a situation of famine extreme.

The scourge of poverty would not affect, or much less, all the same. An indigenous woman and rural as Mary has, for example, more ballots to be that the average mexican: 85% of them are poor, compared with 37% of non-native men in urban areas who are. The latitude at which one is born also features, and much: while poverty rates have been reduced in most States of the north, the south-east of the country has taken the opposite direction. Although it is far less the worst figures recorded —the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca are 77% and 70% of poverty, respectively—, Veracruz is the living example of that development is not always forward: in this State, one of the regions hardest hit by the wave of violence affecting the country, the percentage of poor has gone up from 52% in 2012 to 62% in 2016; a jump of ten points in just four years.

“It's a mixed picture; it is not all black nor all white,” notes Gonzalo Hernández Licona, executive secretary, coneval is used. A gray that is not to the height of some of the traditional promises made at the beginning of the sexennium. In the last few months, Peña Nieto has insisted —another tradition of end-of-sexenio— in his condition of president “compliant”. 97% of the commitments acquired prior to the start of your mandate have been achieved, he said on Wednesday. However, and without entering into the detail of that figure, it is clear that two of the promises most relevant in terms of poverty, the eradication of hunger and the creation of a system of universal social protection, have been outstanding.

The first, the elimination of the shortage of food, marked the first hd porno few years of the six-year period with the launch of the call Crusade against Hunger, a flagship programme of questionable effectiveness that are intended to eliminate malnutrition through community kitchens and gardens, among other initiatives. The number of people with this type of deficiencies have declined from 27 to 24 million: a decline in modest, compared with the eradication to which you aspired. At this rate it would take 118 years to achieve the objective, according to the NGO Citizen Action Against Poverty. This ineffectiveness has been demonstrated recently by the Audit Superior of the Federation (ASF), which last month said that “there is no elements [sufficient] to prove that such a strategy constituted a structural solution and permanent” and recommended to cancel it.

Programs for targeted versus universal policies

Even if it had been effective, programs such as the Cross can have a bearing on the extreme, but they are not so relevant to reduce the moderate. “The social policy to combat poverty has been based on programs focused on instead of resorting to universal policies,” stresses Roberto Vélez, director of the Center for Studies Espinosa Yglesias (CEEY). To the absence of universality is added to a fragmentation of programs at federal, state and local: there have been thousands, but their effectiveness is scarce. “There are around 6,000 social development initiatives; many with no rules of operation, and with few resources, so the impact is small,” explains Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva, director of Oxfam Mexico.

The creation of a system of universal protection was in the drawer of the outstanding pledges. And cohort demographic of older age are the worst part: the old-age pension remains without cover a significant proportion of the population over 65 years of age and about 26% is left to the weather, according to the latest National Survey of Income and Expenditure in Households.

But the social protection and the programs targeted are only part of the problem. During the six-year period the rate of informality —still very high, even in comparison with other countries of the region— has decreased, but insecurity continues to set the world of work and the 16% of the workers, the majority in the informal sector, charges less than a minimum wage, according to data of the statistical office of mexico (INEGI). In addition, real wages have fallen in the last five years, according to figures presented this week by the International Labour Organization (ILO). “The real income has stagnated and the purchasing power is the dominant factor to reduce poverty,” says Hernández Licona.

Behind this lies an economic growth rate too discreet as to address poverty. Mexico, highlights the professor of the UNAM, Juan Carlos Moreno Brid, a specialist in economic development, has spent three decades immersed in a trap of slow growth. Peña Nieto, as now, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, came to power with the promise to achieve a 5 or 6% in line with other emerging countries, but the average of the last five years has been tos ome of 2.5%; higher than the rest of the great powers in Latin america and registered in the two previous sexenios —the previous, Felipe Calderon, subdued by the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009—, but obviously insufficient.

what Is Peña Nieto the only person responsible for this legacy? No. “The percentage of poverty has remained constant since many years ago”, says the economist, Enrique Cardenas. “It is a structural problem”. After falling abruptly in the final leg of the decade of the nineties, the poverty levels have generally been maintained at a plateau from the year 2000, with small ups and downs marginal. This administration, therefore, is “co-responsible” along with the previous two, according to Vélez, CEEY.

With this background, the president-elect, Lopez Obrador, has made the fight against poverty as one of its priorities. Has promised a universal pension from age 68 than double the current amount and have been offered an employment plan for young people who neither study nor work. However, the commitment of López Obrador not to launch a fiscal reform in the first half of the term leaves her tied hands: the revenues that are. “The Government may lose the opportunity to make agreements of State to universalize social protection”, close to Vélez. But we will have to wait a few years to see if the incoming Government breaks with three sexenios followed by promises in the battle of the battles in the socio-economic: poverty and inequality.

real Wages in decline since 2008

The wages in Mexico are still not recover its level of 2008, according to the Global Wage Report of the ILO released this Tuesday. In the first five years of the six-year period the fall has been almost 5% —a less inflation— inflation: it is the fourth Latin American country where more has dropped the purchasing power of the workers, with a decrease of 1.7% on average between 2008 and 2017, only exceeded by Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Guatemala. The counterpoint is Brazil, the other economic giant of the subcontinent; there, wages have grown an average of 2.2% in the same period. Mexico is also an exception among the major emerging economies, where the trend is towards a recovery of wages.

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