Posted on December 29, 2004

Mayor Says Immigration Keeps Mexico From Social Unrest

Manuel Durán, Reforma (Mexico City), trans. by, Dec. 28

Inequality in Mexico has not resulted in social unrest due to, among other things, Mexicans immigrating abroad and the responsibility of citizens, said Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Mayor of Mexico City.

In agreeing with Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, on the need to change Mexico’s economic model before there is a civil conflict, López Obrador said that the only explanation for people in Mexico not having protested in light of more than 20 years of economic stagnation is because escape valves, such as immigration, have been found.

(Note: López Obrador said this in response to a reporter who asked about recent statements by Cardinal Rivera, the Archbishop of Mexico, who warned of conceivable social disorder if changes are not made in Mexico’s economic model.)

“But how else can one explain 20 years without economic growth, (with) jobs not being created, and political stability being maintained without having had social unrest?” López Obrador asked rhetorically.

He explained that while the annual departure of 500,000 Mexicans to the U.S. is not what is best stability has been maintained.

“That which is depopulating the country, that is leaving women, children and senior citizens in the towns because the younger people must leave, is not what is best. Of course that represents the failure of the economic policy,” López Obrador said during his morning press conference.

The effects of migration are twofold, López Obrador said. On one hand the pressure is removed with regard to zero economic growth, and on the other those who are in the U.S. send about US$17 billion to Mexico annually.

“That helps to reactivate the economy, but clearly it is not due to economic policy,” he explained.