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.

Diego Luna Talks The Importance Of The Storytelling In ‘Narcos: Mexico’ And Why Mexico City Will Always Be His Home

Entertainment

Diego Luna Talks The Importance Of The Storytelling In ‘Narcos: Mexico’ And Why Mexico City Will Always Be His Home

Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix’s “Narcos: Mexico” Season 2 comes back to continue the story of enigmatic drug lord Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and the subsequent rise and fall of the Guadalajara cartel he founded in the 1970s, with Diego Luna reprising his role as the mysterious Félix Gallardo.

The show depicts how Félix Gallardo’s eloquence and strategic thinking helped him attain a swift rise to the apex of the Mexican drug cartels. 

For a man of which not much is widely known about, Luna reveals in this exclusive interview with mitú how he was able to dive into his character.

When preparing for this role, Luna said there wasn’t as much research material about El Padrino (Félix Gallardo’s alias) compared to the personal stories of other real-life personalities, such as El Chapo. 

“The good thing for me in playing this role is this man was a very discreet person, he understood the power of discretion,” Luna says.

It was important to see what people said about him—what people say or feel when they were around this character, this perception of him helps a lot. I had to do research and see what was a common answer—people talk about how intelligent and precise and strategic he was, and that’s how I wanted to portray and build this character,” Luna told mitú over the phone. 

Season 2 picks up after the murder of DEA agent Kiki Camarena, with Félix Gallardo enjoying political protection at his palatial home in Mexico.

It’s evident in the beginning scenes of this second season that his rags-to-riches story is starting to unravel and a bit of paranoia is starting to set in that he may have a knife (or gun) at his back at any moment. 

A running allegory used by the characters’ dialogues of the Roman Empire’s eventual collapse and Julius Caesar’s ultimate end foreshadows what we all know will happen to Félix Gallardo—his drug empire will eventually collapse in a smoke of cocaine dust. 

From crooked Mexican politicians and cops to ranch hands trying to make extra money delivering cocaine across the border, the show demonstrates the complicity among the cartels and how far the cartels’ reach.

“Narcos: Mexico” attempts to show that good and evil isn’t always black and white. The story highlights the gray area where even those committing corrupt acts are victims, Luna explained. 

“Some of the characters that take action are victims of the whole system,” Luna said in Spanish. 

The side of Mexico shown in “Narcos: Mexico” has been criticized by some as a side of Mexico stereotypically seen in the media.

However, Luna sees it as a side of the country that is real and must be discussed in order to move forward.

“When this season ends, I was 10 to 11 years old [at the time.] That decade was actually ending. It’s interesting to revisit that decade as an adult and research that Mexico my father was trying to hide from me [as a child],” Luna explained.

Luna says that this type of storytelling is important to understanding the fuller picture of Mexico.

The need for this type of storytelling—the stories that put a mirror up to a country to see the darkest side of itself—is vital, regardless of how complex it is to write scripts about all the facets of a country marred by political and judicial corruption. 

“In this case the story is very complex, it’s talking about a corrupt system that allows these stories to happen. We don’t tell stories like that—we simply everything. With this, I had a chance to understand that complexity. The journey of this character is a presentable journey. Power has a downside, and he gets there and he thinks he’s indispensable and clearly he is not,” Luna said. 

Outside of his role on “Narcos,” Luna is a vocal activist and is constantly working to put Mexico’s art and talent on an international stage through his work, vigilantly reminding his audience that Mexico has culture waiting to be explored past the resort walls of Cancún and Cabo. 

“The beauty of Mexico is that there are many Mexicos—it’s a very diverse country. You have the Pacific Coast that is beautiful and vibrant and really cool. By far my favorite beach spots in Mexico are in Oaxaca, and all the region of Baja California. You also have the desert and jungle and Veracruz and you have all the Caribbean coast and the city is to me a place I can’t really escape. Home is Mexico City, and it will always be where most of my love stories are and where I belong,” Luna said in a sort of love note aside to his home country. 

As much as Luna can talk endlessly about his favorite tacos in Mexico City (Tacos El Güero for any inquiring minds) and the gastronomic wonders of its pocket neighborhoods such as la Condesa, he also wants the dialogue around Mexico’s violence to be shown under a spotlight, as searing as it may be. 

“We can’t avoid talking about violence because if we stop, we normalize something that has to change,” Luna said. 

Perhaps “Narcos: Mexico” can bring some introspection and change after all. Let’s hope the politicians are watching.

READ: ‘Narcos: Mexico’ Season 2 Picks Up Where We Left Off With Félix Gallardo And The Guadalajara Cartel

Mexican Newspaper Slammed After Publishing Graphic Photos Of Woman’s Tragic Death

Things That Matter

Mexican Newspaper Slammed After Publishing Graphic Photos Of Woman’s Tragic Death

SkyNews/ Twitter

In Mexico, the recent brutal mutilation and slaying of a 25-year-old woman are spurning conversations about the country’s efforts to prevent femicide and laws that protect victims from the media.

On Sunday, Mexican authorities revealed that they had discovered the body of Ingrid Escamilla.

According to reports, Escamilla was found lifeless with her body skinned and many of her organs missing. At the scene, a 46-year-old man was also discovered alive. His body was covered in bloodstains and he was arrested.

As of this story wasn’t troubling enough, local tabloids and websites managed to bring more tragedy to the victim and her family by splashing leaked graphic photos and videos of the victim’s body. In a terribly crafted headline, one paper by the name of Pasala printed the photos on its front page with the headline “It was Cupid’s fault.” The headline is a reference to the fact that the man found at the scene was Escamilla’s husband.

According to leaked video footage from the arrest scene, Escamilla’s husband admitted to stabbing his wife after a heated argument in which she threatened to kill him. He then claimed to have skinned her body to eliminate evidence.

Mexic City’s mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, revealed that prosecutors will demand the maximum sentence against the alleged perpetrator.

“Femicide is an absolutely condemnable crime. It is appalling when hatred reaches extremes like in the case of Ingrid Escamilla,” Sheinbaum wrote in a tweet according to CNN. According to reports, Mexico broke records in 2018 when its homicide record reached over 33,000 people that year.

The publication of Escamilla’s mutilated body has sparked discussions regarding the way in which reports about violence against women are handled.

Women’s rights organizations have lambasted the papers that originally published photos of Escamilla’s body and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also expressed criticism of the media’s response to the brutal slaying.

In a press conference on Thursday, President López Obrador expressed his determination to find and punish anyone responsible for the image leaks. “This is a crime, that needs to be punished, whoever it is,” he stated.