Wealth and poverty in Mexico: poverty and extreme poverty are very harsh conditions.

Author:Godinez, Alfonso

I read Mr. Cochran's article about poverty and wealth in Mexico and the United States, and I can see that the writer is sincere and is really making an effort to understand my country. I appreciate that, and I thank him for trying to reach out to another culture. I invite Mr. Cochran to visit my people at a ranch, so that he can see for himself the real situation of poverty in Mexico.

Mr. Cochran mentions his poor friend Luis. The writer's remarks are sincere, but his description of Luis' life does not fit the profile of a Mexican poor person. Luis lives in a concrete block home, he owns his own home, his family is healthy, he works two days per week for an American, and there is plenty of food to eat at his house. This is not a poor person, it is a medium class Mexican person, which is the category just below rich. Even though the income level is much lower, this class corresponds philosophically to the idea of the American middle class. The writer has much in common with Luis because their economic levels in society are about the same!

The real circumstances of poverty in Mexico are much harsher and more severe than Luis's life. A real poor or extremely poor person in Mexico is only struggling to survive every day. His health is bad, his family are ill or dying, he has no water or electricity, and his stomach is empty. Nearly all extremely poor people are illiterate. The writer thinks of Luis as poor because he does not distinguish between the different economic classes in this country. In the U.S., you describe economic classes as Rich, the Middle Class, and the Poor, with most of your people described as Middle Class. In Mexico, we define five income categories, with the largest percentage of people (35%) living in "extreme poverty". The categories and the percentages are: Well off: 10% Medium Class: 20% Regular: 15% Low: 20% Extremely Low: 35%

A person with "Extremely Low" income generally earns about 800 pesos per month, or about $80. Also, these people usually have large families, averaging 5 to 6 people per household. These people eat only beans and tortillas, to "fake out the...

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