Economic factor, one of the keys to understanding Mexico’s policy against COVID-19

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Despite internal criticism of the lack of drastic actions to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Mexican government asks the population to take care and continue exercising. The specialists adduce the economic factor as one of those that defend the contingency policy, in particular before the situation of certain family nuclei.

“It must be tried that the local or family economies do not collapse with the complete closure of activities. Because the less time companies and businesses, the spaces of consumption and the productive chains are closed, the recession will be less impactful for them The United States and China will have very complicated situations to face on their own, and Mexico cannot escape this reality, “said Enrique Gutiérrez Márquez, director of the Department of Social and Political Sciences at the Iberoamerican University.
The case of Mexico is complicated by the labor situation that prevails among its population. According to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, 56.2% of workers work in some sector of the informal economy, where trades such as domestic work, street trade and taxi drivers are usually grouped.

In his morning speech on March 18, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) mentioned that his Administration had in mind caring for people who are looking for life every day on the street. Similarly, the head of government of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, asked on March 17 to avoid anticipating drastic measures in the face of the pandemic.

“As head of government, my responsibility is public health, but also security and the economy; the well-being of the population,” she said in a message released on social networks.

The vital need to continue working is also accepted by large entrepreneurs. Thus, Ricardo Salinas Pliego, the director of Grupo Salinas, indicated that “We will not die of coronavirus, but we will starve”, because “the vast majority of the population does not live on a salary, does not live on their savings, does not live on the Government”.
Edgar Ortiz Arellano, political scientist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), agrees that in the López Obrador government “they do not want to repeat the mistake made during the influenza epidemic —in 2009, when the economy was paralyzed and caused a crisis. That concern takes into account that millions of Mexicans cannot shut themselves up simply because they live daily. ”
For his part, Carlos Javier Cabrera Adame, professor at the UNAM Faculty of Economics, stressed that “it is a fact that the population in the informal economy would be more affected by economic paralysis, since they do not have benefits, nor any type of social security to protect them in case of running out of income. That situation will be really complicated for them, so an eventual recession will hit harder in this population. ”

However, delayed measures can also jeopardize the health of these groups. In this regard, Laura Flamand Gómez, professor-researcher at El Colegio de México, stressed that “people who live daily are more exposed because they continue to circulate and, consequently, they will get sickerIn general, he commented, they have suffered from conditions such as malnutrition, diabetes, hypertension, or they are older adults who do not have social security.

“They only have access to services that have historically been underfunded, as well as limited human and material resources,” he added.

As an alternative, Flamand Gómez points out the possibility of delivering these people unconditional cash transfers, measure announced in recent days by the Governments of Argentina or Brazil.

Despite the criticisms, the professional opinion on health issues, articulated by the representative of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in Mexico, Cristian Morales, is that the declaration Phase 2 contingency was taken in advance, at the right time. The country is expected to enter Phase 3 on April 19.

“Phase 3 is the phase of maximum transmission, it is the phase with the highest number of cases per day and it is the phase where the main risk is that the health system becomes saturated,” said Hugo López Gatell, Undersecretary for Prevention and Promotion of Health.

In turn, the President of Mexico, López Obrador, stressed that now, when the country is in Phase 2, it is necessary to continue with the recommendations that were proposed for the period of the National Day of Healthy Distance in order to ” enter the third stage more lightly. “

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