Nov 14, 2013

Mexico economic reality doesn't fit 'Aztec Tiger' narrative

by Adam Goodman

For the last decade Victoria Alvarez Flores worked 10 hours a day, six days a week, 51 weeks a year at a Mexico City laundromat. Her round-trip commute from a town just outside the city added another four and a half hours to an already long day. The pay was modest, the benefits nonexistent, but at least she had a job. That is, until the owner sold the business.

On Oct. 27 the laundromat closed, marking Alvarez's first day of unemployment. It was her 54th birthday.

Alvarez’s situation is not uncommon. In the past year Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto — along with much of the international media — has emphasized the growth of the Mexican middle class and portrayed the country as an economic success story, an Aztec Tiger. The reality, however, is quite different.

“The Mexican economy is going through a recession right now,” said Gerardo Esquivel, a professor at the Center for Economic Studies at the Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City. “The numbers that have been mentioned in terms of the growth of the middle class have been grossly exaggerated. There is not a clear definition of what middle class is.”  Read more.   

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