Things That Matter

A 74-Year-Old Man Works For Uber Eats In Mexico City And People Are Asking Why He Isn’t Enjoying Retirement

Someone once said that you can tell a lot about society by the way it treats its senior citizens. In Mexico, older people are generally respected on a family and social level, but are often left for their own devices in financial terms. It is common to see people well into their 70s and even their 80s working to make ends meet. For them, retirement is like a dream that will never be realized, and everyday life is a constant struggle. This is certainly the case for many older citizens living in Mexico City. As the megalopolis grows and swallows small towns and cities with it, work opportunities become centralized in the capital and people, regardless of their age or health status, are forced to commute and work in CDMX. 

Such is the case of this man. 

Francisco Sánchez is a man in his seventies who commutes from Ecatepec to Mexico City to be part of the gig economy.

Credit: 24 Horas Diario Sin Limites

Ecatepec is a marginalized area in the State of Mexico, the most populated state in the country and one of the most challenging in terms of security and poverty. Francisco was spotted by social media user Edgar Tequianes, in the Zona Rosa area of Mexico City. Francisco collects orders from restaurants located in the high end shopping mall Reforma 222, and delivers them on foot to the apartments and offices in the area, one of the busiest business hubs in the Mexican capital city. 

He has become part of the digital gig economy at an unlikely age.

The photograph of Don Francisco using his mobile phone has made the rounds in social media, and people are praising him for remaining active and productive at an advanced age. In a day and age where ageism is prevalent (those over 60s tend to be considered useless by society, particularly by businesses) it is encouraging to see someone like this man. Social media users have asked others to be patient with Don Francisco and to give him a good tip when he delivers orders. 

Facebook user Mariana Santos has become his fiercest advocate 🙂

Mariana Santos has had some chats with Don Francisco, and she has discovered that he is also a swimming teacher. He told her that he gets lost sometimes. Mariana, who has gotten orders delivered by him, says that he is a gentleman and has a positive attitude. 

It all seems great… but is this OK?

Conditions for older citizens in Mexico are dire. A recent study by the National University states that poverty and loneliness are the biggest challenges they face. Recent data also suggests that 49% of older adults in Mexico live with $600 pesos or less a month. That translates into roughly 35 dollars. Yes. You read that right.

And also, the gig economy deja mucho que desear when it comes to workers’ rights.

Yes, companies such as Uber Eats give people more opportunities to make money and get a job when facing unemployment or when wanting to get an extra bit of cash. However, they are pushing the labor force into casualization, which means that instead of being employees with full benefits and social security (in Mexico, for example, your employer needs to pay a contribution to the national health system, IMSS, for you to be fully covered), they are casual workers with no benefits. Added to this, companies such as Uber and its many branches take a cut that can reach up to 25% of earnings.

Working for a gig economy company also means that you need to report it to the tax authorities, which take a further percentage. People like Francisco end up with about 30% of the cut, which is far from ideal. The problem with the gig economy is that it is not a complement to the workforce, but rather a model that is being spread into various industries. This will likely create a precarious workforce that will face even more overwhelming challenges when they reach retirement age and have no savings and no pension.  

Hundreds Of Mexicans Being Treated For HIV Were Being Given Obsolete Medications From The 1980s

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Hundreds Of Mexicans Being Treated For HIV Were Being Given Obsolete Medications From The 1980s

Gobierno de Mexico

For a long time, it was considered that Mexico had averted the worst of the HIV/AIDS crisis that has plagued much of the Americas. For a country of its size and population, Mexico historically has had a very low incidence rate of HIV infection – even among populations considered at a high-risk.

Mexico is also a nation that has a robust public healthcare system that provides medical care to its citizens free-of-charge or at very low prices, including HIV medications.

Many looked to Mexico as a role model for developing countries confronting the worldwide HIV epidemic. However, after recent reports about obsolete medications being given to HIV and AIDS patients many are beginning to question that way of thinking.

Mexico’s Health ministry revealed that Mexico had been buying outdated medications from suppliers that no longer worked.

Credit: Gobierno de Mexico

Hugo López-Gatell, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, revealed this morning that some drug providers were selling outdated and obsolete HIV drugs to the federal government. Many of the drug being used by the government to treat HIV-positive patients were from the 1980s and have been proven ineffective around the world.

At a press conference, he explained that in late 2019, authorities realized that drug companies were intentionally manipulating the public bidding process in a scheme to sell outdated drugs to the public health ministry.

“The combination of medicines tells us about the enormous lack of proper HIV treatment because they [the HIV medications] are not adequate. In many cases we found the use of old medicines, we found the use of the first HIV drug that was invented or discovered at the beginning of the 80s. It is a drug that is already obsolete worldwide and in Mexico was still being used,” he said.

According to the government, however, it was the fault of the drug companies that were gaming a public health system.

Credit: Gobierno de Mexico

“What did we find?” That here were pressures from representatives of the pharmaceutical industry. We discovered that it was one group who made the medicines and that there were very few who distributed them. But they tie up the government with exclusive agreements to the different companies that manufacture the medicines,” he explained.

So basically, the distributors put pressure on doctors who specifically prescribed retroviral medications. He also clarified that purchases have always been made at the national level, however, they made no sense with the amounts of what they asked for in each state.

Despite this troubling revelation, the Ministry of Health has restated its commitment to securing the best care for those in need of HIV treatment.

Credit: Gilead Sciences

The undersecretary added: “In May, we completely modified the HIV treatment scheme. First, we made it clear that we wanted the best medications, the most effective, the safest; second, we identified how many people could have this ideal medication scheme and it turns out that there were many more than those who were taking advantage of it.”

This latest news comes just months after the country reformed its HIV treatment regime, leaving many fearful of shortages.

Public health officials warned of the possibility that thousands of Mexicans who rely on HIV treatment could be left without life-saving services after the government changed the way it funds treatment.

Reforms announced last month to centralize drug procurement risk sparking shortages, they say, while the government counters that it has ample supplies and hopes its changes will save money and cut corruption in the drug buying process. It’s these reforms they say that will help combat problems such as being sold outdated and obsolete drugs.

However, many HIV activists warn of a public health crisis.

In February, the government also said that it would no longer fund civil society organizations, leaving more than 200 groups fighting the disease without resources for core activities, such as HIV testing.

Mexico Pushes Back Against Migrant Caravan: Children Are Missing And Families Separated

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Mexico Pushes Back Against Migrant Caravan: Children Are Missing And Families Separated

Jose Torres / Getty

Last week news broke that another migrant caravan was forming in Honduras, in an attempt to safely cross Guatemala and Mexico on the way to the United States. Immediately, the reports were met with a mix of panic and indignity among Central American leaders who vowed to stop the caravan before reaching the US-Mexican border.

And it looks like that plan has been put into motion. Although Guatemala allowed many migrants through its territory, upon reaching the border with Mexico, many migrants were turned away, or worse.

A caravan of nearly 3,000 people has been met with force as they’ve tried to cross into Mexico from Guatemala.

Credit: Jose Torres / Getty

According to Guatemala, at least 4,000 people entered from Honduras since Wednesday, making for one of the biggest surges since three Central American governments signed agreements with the Trump administration giving them more of the responsibility for dealing with migrants. Even though these exact same countries are ill-equipped to handle the influx of migrants – let alone fight back against their country’s own poverty, violence, and corruption that force many migrants to flee in the first place.

Mexican government officials ordered them to block entry into the country. 

Mexico’s National Immigration Institute issued a statement saying it would detain any migrants without legal status, and deport them if they couldn’t legalize their status. 

Video footage showed scattered groups of migrants throwing rocks at a few members of the National Guard militarized police who were on the banks of the river attempting to thwart illegal crossings, while hundreds of others ran past into Mexico.

Hopes were raised on Friday after Mexican President AMLO announced that there were 4,000 jobs along the southern border available to migrants.

The day after AMLO’s statement regarding possible job opportunities, more than 1,000 migrants attempted to cross into Mexico. According to the country’s National Institute of Migration (INM), each migrant was interviewed and told about opportunities with two government development programs. which will be implemented along the southern border and in both El Salvador and Honduras.

Meanwhile, as migrants waited to be processed for entry into Mexico, a loudspeakers warned migrants against applying for asylum in the US. However, many migrants are doubtful when it comes to Mexico’s offer of work.

“I don’t believe that. It is a lie,” one migrant told Al Jazeera. “They are just trying to find a means trap us and to debilitate the caravan.”

The violence at the Mexico-Guatemala border has left children separated from their families as crowds were sent fleeing from pepper spray.

Credit: Jeff Abbott / Flickr

As Mexican security forces launched tear gas and pepper spray into a crowd of migrants attempting to enter the country – hundreds were forced to flee. The ensuing chaos left children lost without their parents and mothers and fathers desperately searching for their children.

A Reuters witness spoke to at least two mothers said their children went missing amid the chaos, as the migrants on Mexican soil scattered in an attempt to avoid being detained by Mexican officials.

“We didn’t come to stay here. We just want to cross to the other side,” said Ingrid, 18, a Honduran migrant. “I don’t want to go back to my country because there is nothing there, just hunger.”

Many have harsh words for Mexico’s President AMLO – calling him a puppet and a coward.

Although most agree that every country has the right to enforce its own immigration laws, many are upset with AMLO for the way his administration has cracked down on Central American migrants. Many see the crackdown as little more than bowing to pressure from Trump – turning him into a puppet of the US.

So what should AMLO do when dealing with unauthorized migrants and pressure from a US President?

First, violence and attacks on migrants simply crossing territory should never be on the table. Second, AMLO’s administration should let the caravan reach the US-border and let the asylum process play out as it was meant to do under international law. Just because Trump wants AMLO to join him in breaking international norms, doesn’t mean he should.

But many doubt that will ever happen. Neither of these presidents, Trump nor AMLO, will change course to support legal asylum claims.

So what’s next? Will Mexico relent and agree to pay for Trump’s border wall? Don’t dismiss the idea, not when the Mexican president has so far carried out Trump’s every whim.