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.  

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Things That Matter

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

Things That Matter

Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

When it comes to international happiness rankings, Mexico has long done well in many measurements. In fact, in 2019, Mexico placed number 23 beating out every other Latin American country except for Costa Rica. But in 2020, things looks a lot different as the country slipped 23 spots on the list. What does this mean for Mexico and its residents? 

Mexico slips 23 spots on the World Happiness Report thanks to a variety of compelling factors.

Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, the new report indicates.

“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.

The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.

Mexico has struggled especially hard against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started, Mexico has fared far worse than many other countries across Latin America. Today, there are reports that Mexico has been undercounting and underreporting both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths. Given this reality, the country is 2nd worst in the world when it comes to number of suspected deaths, with more than 200,000 people dead. 

Could the happiness level have an impact on this year’s elections?

Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.

But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.

Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.

Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.

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