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Figures with no triumph

For nearly three decades, social programs in Mexico have been providing resources for the most needed; nevertheless, the results have been insufficient
Mexicans living under extreme conditions - File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
31/08/2017
13:33
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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For nearly three decades, social programs in Mexico have been providing resources for the most needed; nevertheless, the results have been insufficient. Half of the Mexican population lives with scarcity every day, with minimum wages barely enough to cover the cost of basic needs.

The National Evaluation Council on Social Development Policies (CONEVAL) presented yesterday their report on poverty. The results of 2016 show there was a reduction in the number of poor people in Mexico – compared to the results of 2014 – dropping from 55.3 million to 53.4 million; in the category of extreme poverty, figures fall from 11.4 million to 9.4. These are flattering news, but throughout three decades, some reports show progress and others setbacks. The CONEVAL knows this: it's not enough to have a downward tendency in one period, reduction needs to be sustained.

Social groups have pointed out areas of improvement in the social policy of the Government, yet their recommendations have gone unnoticed. The organization Frente a la Pobreza has criticized, for starters, the over 6 thousand and 500 hundred social programs implemented by the public administration – programs which, according to the organization, are proof of the dispersion, rather than concentration, of efforts.

In the last 30 years, Mexico has had some economic progress to boast about, yet the main issue continues to be the unequal distribution of wealth. EL UNIVERSAL published this Wednesday the story of Chayo, a woman whose husband has a monthly income of 3 thousand Mexican pesos per month (roughly 168 USD), all destined towards the support of themselves and their four kids. For their children, college education is not an option. This is when the circle of poverty reproduces itself. Gaining access to superior education opens the doors to overcoming poverty, yet data from this sector shows that out of 100 children who enroll in elementary school, only 22 will have a college degree.

On the other hand, 10% of the population concentrates 64% of the country's total wealth, according to the Global Wealth Report.

The numbers of the CONEVAL must not be considered a triumph over poverty. The issue is more complex, and education, income, and equality are all factors that come into play. We need several swallows to make a Summer.

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