Things That Matter

Thousands Of Mexican Workers Are Set To Get A Pay Raise After Companies Agree To Increase Wages But Will It Be Enough?

The national minimum wage in Mexico is just $5.10 USD per day. Although that number rises to $8.80 USD per day in the northern part of the country near the US-Mexico border. But, according to many reports, most Mexicans do not earn the minimum wage because there are so many loopholes in the laws.

One group of companies is working to better implement minimum wages and even one up the national standard by offering all of their employees a guaranteed monthly wage.

One hundred Mexican companies have announced they will raise the minimum monthly salary of their employees.

And, yes, this is great news for those workers. However, the increase will only bring the minimum monthly wage to $6,500 pesos (or roughly $340 USD). Yes, that’s $350 USD per month.

Corporate directors from Citibanamex, Corporación Zapata, Tajín and Grupo Pochteca, representing the 100-member organization Empresas Por El Bienestar (Companies for Wellbeing), told a press conference on Wednesday that the initiative will contribute to the construction of a “middle-class Mexico.”

“Starting from a base of the average home containing 1.7 workers, the 6,500-peso monthly payment will put us just above the poverty threshold determined by [the social development agency] Coneval,” they told reporters.

However, the companies in the group don’t actually have to participate if they don’t want to, leading many to question how effective the plan will be.

The company representatives emphasized that participation is not obligatory, but the group has been working on the initiative for five years and expects it to have a positive impact that will be reflected in the growth of the country.

“The impact in the short and long term will be positive, in the consumption and incomes of Mexican families. It will become a virtuous cycle and that’s why we’re making this sacrifice to push the country’s economy to be even stronger.”

They stressed that 48% of formal jobs in the country offer less than 6,500 pesos per month, but the companies in the group will all pay all their employees at least that much beginning on December 1.

Despite many businesses having held doubts about AMLO’s presidency and its effects on the economy, most of those have subsided.

Although the first year of President López Obrador’s administration has brought doubt to many in the private sector, the 100 companies see a more favorable and receptive environment ahead.

In accordance with what they have seen in the current international economic climate, they believe they can implement the change without causing higher inflation.

These 100 companies promise that the raise will not have a negative impact on prices, therefore it won’t have an inflationary effect. The objective is to increase the attraction of formal employment.”

A full list of the member companies to the group can be found at the 100 Empresas Por El Bienestar website.

Despite the proposed increase by these companies, the minimum wage across Mexico is still below the official poverty level.

Though, the country has taken several steps to increase the minimum wage for its workforce.

Starting in 2018, the minimum wage has increased each year. On January 1, 2019, the minimum wage increased by 6% to 102.68 pesos (US $5.10). At that same announcement, Luisa María Alcalde also announced an even bigger hike in the northern border area, where a free zone with lower taxes will be implemented at the start of next year. There, the minimum wage will double from its current level to 176.72 pesos (US $8.80) per day.

Speaking at an event attended by President López Obrador, other cabinet secretaries, members of the private sector and workers’ representatives, Alcalde said that for the first time in many years the minimum wage has been set at a point that is on par with the minimum threshold for individual wellbeing, or the poverty line, which is determined by the social development agency Coneval.

López Obrador, who has pledged that “the poor will come first” during his government, described the salary increase as “an historic event because together we begin a new stage in the salary policy of our country.”

However, even with the increase set to take effect on New Year’s Day, Mexico will continue to have one of the lowest minimum wages in Latin America.

The wage increase also comes shortly after the government raised the minimum wage for domestic workers.

The National Minimum Wage Commission (Conasami) has proposed setting the daily minimum salary for domestic workers at 249 pesos (US $12.70).

Commission president Andrés Peñaloza Méndez said that a Conasami study estimated that 90% of employers have the financial capacity to pay the wage proposed. Just over 1.4 million domestic workers, most of whom are impoverished women, are expected to benefit.

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This Indigenous Village In Mexico Trains Their Children As Soldiers To Combat Gang Violence

Things That Matter

This Indigenous Village In Mexico Trains Their Children As Soldiers To Combat Gang Violence

via Getty Images

In the town of Ayahualtempa, Mexico, in the state of Guerrero, reporters see a shocking image whenever they visit. Children armed with guns, trained to defend themselves. The disturbing scene is meant to be shocking. The village of Ayahualtempa is under constant attack. A prominent heroin “corridor”, they are the victims of violence and carnage at the hands of gangsters and the cartel.

In order to gain the Mexican government’s attention, the Ayahualtempa villagers dress their children up as soldiers. Then, they invite the media in.

Ayahualtempa
via Getty Images

When reporters arrive, the children of Ayahualtempa dutifully line up and put on a performance. They march, they show how they would shoot a gun from one knee, or from flat on their bellies. They tell reporters that their mock-violent performance is “so the president sees us and helps us,” as a 12-year-old child named Valentín told the Associated Press.

Because the Mexican government doesn’t protect Ayahualtempa, the display of child soldiers is a form of protest for the small indigenous village. The people of this remote region of Guerrero want protection from the National Guard, and financial help for widows and orphans who have been made so from organized crime.

The villagers don’t trust local authorities, and for good reason. Guerrera is the Mexican state in which 43 teaching students were abducted and killed in an event that is known as the “Iguala mass kidnapping”. Authorities arrested 80 suspects in connection to the event. 44 of them were police officers, working in conjunction with a network of cartels.

Although the demonstrations function largely as a publicity stunt, violence is very much a part of these children’s lives.

via Getty Images

Parents train their children to walk to school with loaded guns, ready to defend themselves against violent gangsters.

The attention-grabbing antics have, to some extent, worked. On one occasion, the government donated some housing material. On another, benefactors gave the community’s orphans and widows scholarships and houses. But as soon as the periodic media storms die down, the federal government continues pretending Ayahualtempa doesn’t exist.

The hypocrisy of the government’s response is frustrating to many. “We’ve normalized that these children don’t eat, are illiterate, are farm workers. We’re used to the Indians dying young, but, ‘How dare they arm them!’” said local human rights activist Abel Barrera to the AP, with a heavy dose of sarcasm.

As for now, until the government moves to protect the community, they say they will continue their demonstrations. “They see that the issue of the children is effective for making people take notice and they think: If that’s what works, we’ll have to keep doing it,” said Barrera.

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Spanish Voiceover Actress For Jessie From Pokémon Dies And Fans Mourn

Entertainment

Spanish Voiceover Actress For Jessie From Pokémon Dies And Fans Mourn

Pokémon fans in Latin America are mourning the death of Diana Pérez, the Spanish-language voice of Jessie of Pokémon’s Team Rocket. The voice actress has been voicing the character since 1997.

Diana Pérez, the voice actress of Team Rocket’s Jessie, died at 51.

Lalo Garza, a famed voice actor in Mexico, confirmed the death of the Pokémon voice actress.

“Rest in peace Diana Pérez, a strong, cultured, intelligent, and very talented woman. You are good now, friend. Nothing hurts anymore. Have a good trip,” reads the tweet.

Pérez has been a staple in the Spanish-language Pokémon fandom for decades.

Pérez was more than just he voice of Jessie. The voice actress was the voice of multiple anime characters including Luffy in One Piece and Kagura in Inuyasha. In recent years, Pérez had started branching out to directing, producing, and other branches in the entertainment industry.

Pérez’s death is being mourned by Pokémon fans outside of the Spanish-language fandom.

Sarah Natochenny is the English voice of Ash Ketchum in the Pokémon series, Jessie’s mortal enemy. The death of Pérez has impacted the larger Pokémon community. Pérez was a pivotal part of the Latin American Pokémon community for decades and her loss has devastated fans.

Descansa en paz, Diana.

There have been no plans announced for a replacement to voice Team Rocket’s Jessie. No official cause of death has been released either. Our hearts and thoughts go out to Pérez’s family and the greater Pokémon community mourning her passing.

READ: I Was Today Years Old When I Found Out This Mexican Pokémon

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