I haven’t written much about the political situation other than how my students are curious and concerned. People have commented that I’m lucky to be missing the mess going on at home. So here’s how the United States Presidential race is looking from our view, south of the border…
Disbelief, appall and fear. Scandals are old hat in Latin America and just make it more exciting, they don’t really care about what goes on behind closed doors, but the economic impact is real and a struggle.
I’ve been getting my news via my handy NPR app each morning and then throughout the day when I walk to and from school I listen to political podcasts for about 10 minutes before deciding I get the point, it’s spun out of control further, and I go back to last weeks episode of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”, music or interviews. It’s nice to be up to date but not inundated. I picked up a paper the other day and after looking up a couple big words I’d never seen before, I learned a few things, sadly one being how to explain “something was gaining ground and is now regressing”.
Said thing is the peso, and it’s directly correlated to Hillary Clinton’s health and lead or lag in the polls. In August the peso was gaining strength as Hillary gained momentum, then it started to lose value when Hillary was sick in September, continuing to hit an almost record weak point of 19.50 Pesos / per 1 US dollar. As she held her own in the debates and gained strength in the polls, so did the peso and was as of last week getting stronger moving to 17Pesos / 1 USD. Then BAM! was hit over the weekend as the latest FBI news came out. This morning, we’re hitting 18.30. Bottom line: When Mexico is supported by the U.S. in trade relations, the world economy supports Mexico. When there is a threat that a U.S. leader will not support Mexican economic growth, then the country is seen as an unstable world trade partner and the peso crashes. 70% of Mexico’s exports go to the U.S. and if these businesses are not in favor by the powers that be, Mexico has to find new partners and buyers.
And by “how the peso is impacted”, of course I mean how all the people, employees, employers, moms, dads and kids are impacted in their daily lives with hopes to stay afloat. Yes, there are multi-zillionaires in this country, and even just flat out millionaires, Merida has a number of these wealthy families; but the majority of the population struggles to hit the basic acceptable standard of living line. Impact on me? I’m paid in pesos in cash in an unmarked envelope every two weeks, the dollar equivalent depends on the day, and apparently the current strength of certain Presidential candidates!
But really, I simply go into the grocery store and calculate that today I paid a dollar equivalent for some tortillas that cost me only 75 cents equivalent last week. For me it’s interesting, not a matter of a full stomach.
Left, middle or right, we all have rights to our opinions, it’s just hard to see consequences. My “citizen abroad” ballot is in and my earbuds nearby as I continue to follow this crazy process of democracy! That said, I am truly grateful to be an American, having the opportunity to temporarily reside in a foreign country observing and writing and learning. In the end I know I am being positively impacted by my experiences here, even when some of this feels difficult. Cue the cockroach the size of my big toe as I walked out my door this morning.