By Luis Gerardo Pérez Figueroa*
Undoubtedly, poverty and inequality are the most serious and profound problems we have in our country. According to CONVEAL data, in 2008 we had 49.5 million poor people in Mexico, by 2014 we already had 56.3 and in 2018 it dropped to 52.4; however, measured as a percentage of the population, in 2008 they represented 44.4%, rose to 46.2% in 2014 and fell to 41.9%. The last available measurement of 2020 indicates that the poor increased to 55.7 million, which represented 43.9%; namely, not only have we not improved, but the little we had advanced, we have destroyed in the last 2 years.
We know that poverty has various dimensions, including education, health, employment, housing, etc., and unfortunately we have lost most of these dimensions in recent years. For example, in access to health, where in 2018 16.2% of the population had deficiencies and in 2020 it rose to 28.2%. The educational gap was 18.5% in 2015 and in 2020 it increased to 19.2%.
And why are we like this? The causes, as in all complex problems, are many and of various kinds, but the reality and coldness of the data reflects years of ineffective public policies and sadly also reflects that, like any other problem that persists, there is no genuine interest of those who with power and resources could solve it. First, trying to understand its causes and, later, making decisions and carrying out effective and consistent actions. We probably see poverty as something distant and alien to our close and daily reality.
What we probably do see clearly are the terrible decisions of this government of the self-styled 4T, who proclaims “the poor first” and in practice is the antithesis of Robin Hood. He does everything that affects those he claims to defend in the short and/or long term. The unfortunate sequence of bad decisions that deprives the most disadvantaged of what they have and “steals” their future prospects. There are many examples: Seguro Popular disappears and creates a system that does not work, forcing people to turn to private services; it dismantles a medicine supply system and leaves without sufficient supply; take away full-time schools. In short, a clear lack of interest in investing in what provides health and education for the future, giving priority to obtaining votes and achieving power at the expense of the poor.
And what can we entrepreneurs do? Undoubtedly express our rejection of the decisions and actions that negatively affect the main dimensions of poverty and demand their correction; however, it is not all that we can and must do. It is always easier to see the “speck in someone else’s eye than the beam in your own”. It is up to us first of all to check our own house; that is, the situation of poverty that our collaborators could have. Is there job poverty among our collaborators, that is, do they have a decent salary to cover their needs? Is there educational poverty? How many of our collaborators have not finished their basic studies? How many could have better preparation to access jobs? better paid? What can we do to support them? Do they have a decent home? How many have their own home? We might think that this is not up to us, that it’s up to the government or someone else to solve it. To date, the vast majority have not been interested in doing so. Do we really believe that someone will?
A few years ago at a meeting I heard someone say the trite phrase “the peoples have the government they deserve”, and a person with a better vision than the rest said: “no, the peoples have governments as they are, they are a reflection of themselves”. The poor elect poor governments with poor ideas, without education, lacking in science, full of ideologies and with great resentment. Sounds familiar? As never before, the harsh reality has caught up with us and we must transform that reality, which keeps us in a poor and divided Mexico.
It is clear that if there is something that entrepreneurs know how to do, it is to transform our reality. We face challenges and obstacles all the time, and we always find a way to get ahead. Today we have a huge major challenge, something that perhaps we had not faced before, the challenge of contributing to a better country by fighting poverty from our companies. Let’s make ours the true slogan of putting the poor first. That is the true social commitment of businessmen for a better Mexico where things go well for all of us, not just a few. #OpinionCoparmex
Editor’s note: This text belongs to our Opinion section and reflects only the author’s vision, not necessarily the High Level point of view.
*Luis Gerardo Pérez is CEO of Corporate Social Commitment of Coparmex Nacional
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