Cold weather and price increases
Busy at work, freezing in the office where the floor is so cold and my office a fridge. My car registered 9C on the way to work this morning and now I’m in the office swathed in sweaters and scarves and boots. I even have a heater on and a blanket over my knees…You would never work at this temperature in England, you’d be sent home… Fortunately, though the sun is now shining brightly outside and later I will go out into the garden and warm up.
We are coming up to our 15th anniversary at work and so there are things to think of, some kind of celebration to organise and press releases to write. I will be celebrating 5 years in May working here and it’s been great. We seem to be starting the year quite well, and if things carry on this way then 2014 will be much better business wise than 2013.
Which reminds me of Mexico’s newfound status in the world. We now are one of the MINT countries! Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey are now known as the Mint countries and it’s fashionable to talk about them rather than the Bric countries. Somebody somewhere has decided these things and it seems we are on the road to becoming highly developed. Of course here in the office we immediately started swapping ideas on how to interpret Mint. We decided we liked it much more than Bric; that as a mint it is refreshing; that it means new; that it can be interpreted to mean manufacture; that it represents money, i.e. as in the Royal Mint; that it can be usefully used in expressions like “in mint condition” or “brand new”. We shall wait and see how it progreses…
And so now everyone is talking about the “Mexican Moment” which is supposed to be happening due to the passing of financial, economic and energy reforms. However, it depends on how you want to interpret the Mexican Moment. For the millions of poor in this country their reality has nothing whatsoever to do with reforms and healthy economic outlooks, their situation is not being made any better. The international press are saying wow, look at Mexico, but we know better, since we live here and suffer the consequences of reform. These big changes don’t just happen overnight, the struggles being caused by the latest round of reforms are monumental and change is slow, slow, slow. No miracle is going to happen in the next five years. On the contrary, the development will be painful; resistance to change is very high indeed. An example: one of my colleagues today had a crash on the way to work, someone drove into him and banged the side of his car a bit, nothing serious. However, the guilty party didn’t have insurance. Now, in theory, you cannot get your registration plates without producing proof of having insurance, so it’s obvious that a quick bribe will still do the trick. In these kinds of situation and to avoid police fines and all the other hassles the common thing to do is to arrive at a sum of money that is ok for both parties and that’s that. Loads of people still drive with no insurance; it will take years to correct that statistic.
Everyone’s complaining as everything has gone up in price: the metro in Mexico City, bus fares, petrol, gas and electricity, staple food items, you name it, it’s gone up. January is a hard month for most of us anyway but this year it is being extra hard. Those of us who pay taxes are being whammed with more tax, those of us who don’t are being forced to put their businesses in order so that they will begin to pay tax. A lot of resistance, a long way to go. All of these reforms will have a profound effect on the economy and the culture of Mexico, and over time we shall begin to see the effect. The government will be the recipient of more money and this begs the question: what will happen to that extra money? On what will it be spent?
The reforms have taken precedence over everything but the issue of our security is uppermost in everyone’s minds. Everyone is moaning bitterly about the lack of action in reaction to organised crime. It seems that the governments, both at national and at state level, have no idea what to do, or are in cahoots… It makes you wonder. The people who live in the state of Michoacán are having a really, really hard time.