By David Simmonds
There is a small, remote village in Oaxaca, Santa Maria Ecatepec, that would seemingly have no connection to the fast-paced world of San Diego, Chicago or Atlanta. When you walk the dusty streets of this town of 4,000 of mostly farmers, it appears to be like many other hard-scrabble villages in Mexico, except here you see few men, and even fewer young men. They have bravely left their homes, traveling 2,000 or more dangerous, hostile miles to find work in the U.S. to send money back to their families for food, clothing, maybe an occasional trip to the coast or Oaxaca City. The people left behind, primarily women, try to keep the local fields working growing corn, peanuts, coffee…but prices have been falling as a result of short-sighted trade agreements and harmful “dumping” practices by the powerful, and the work is very hard. The money that arrives from the young men who left town is essential to the town’s survival…a culture’s survival.
Now the money that makes it way back to Mexico is in decline according to the Inter-American Development Bank, as reported by the New York Times. The workers are feeling less certain about their ability to stay in the U.S. and are considering a possible move back to the villages. The money supply is tightening in the U.S., homes are losing value, and there is less work available to employ the construction and agriculture workers, restaurant and hotel staff, the hard-labor jobs that are found on the street corners all over America. And the men say they are feeling less welcome in the U.S., the days of ugly racism resurfacing as their servitude is in less demand.
As hard as it is to watch, knowing that the suffering will be immense, perhaps the repatriation of Mexico’s hardest working class will spur the Mexican government to enact innovative, new policies that will address the needs of the majority. There is much to be done in their country, blessed with enormous resources. They need courageous Roosevelt-style leadership at the top to jump-start a New Deal…Mexico style.