Perkins 1Deanna PerkinsMrs. Monica TilleryAP LiteratureFall 2011 Behind Closed Borders “Illegal immigration reaches all time high” a headline reads, the face of a Hispanic malestaring through the border fence filling up the picture below. This story is often depicted, thoughwith slightly different details, in newspaper articles across the United States and throughout theworld. Illegal immigration is the hot topic of today, and the average American has strong viewsopposing it. But have many considered the reason why there are Hispanic men, women, andchildren risking their lives to find a new home? By barely skimming through numerous articlesand headlines, one can find the turmoil that causes thousands to flee their country. Drugs,poverty and violence, to name a few, are leading indicators of an impulse to “take flight” that isaffecting so many. Mexico lags behind the rest of the world due to its lack of contribution to globaleconomic trade. According to nber.org, “it appears that people living in areas with the leastexposure to globalization -- regions that are not attracting foreign investment and are lacking inindustries that serve international markets -- are lagging behind those residing in regions thathave felt its full force.” This quote perfectly describes the defining issue of Mexico’s crisis. Thecountry lacks exposure to the rest of the world because of a dwindling trade system. As a sideeffect of its weak economic growth, Mexico has become one of the foremost countries affected
Perkins 2by the recent global economic crisis. While poverty has risen almost 1.7% between 2008 and2010 for the entire world, a whopping 52 million people in Mexico, around 46% of thepopulation, now live in poverty, with 5.5 million living in extremely abject conditions(Chron.com). The poor man’s plight is often characterized by “limited access to basic services,productive natural resources, credit and education [that] perpetuate these conditions” (tph.org).Sadly, poverty is only an indication of more malignant and troublesome issues. By looking at education and health, it is easy to understand the divide between the richand poor. While the rich may attend better schools, including private schools in the U.S., thechances of those in rural areas having quality education is slim to none. According tonationsencyclopedia.com, “the quality of instruction is low, the bureaucracy is ineffective, andstudents do not stay in school (only 60% of Mexican children complete primary school).” Mostchildren in Mexico do not have a standard system that offers quality education. For them, it iseasier not to stay in school in order to work and support their family. Unlike Americans, whotraditionally have an 8 hour work day, the average Mexican man works 12-14 hours or more atwages that are below the U.S. minimum. They often take two or three jobs at a time. Even withthese intense work hours, a paycheck may not be enough to put food on the table or cover thecost of medical care. One of the leading factors of death in Mexico is preventable disease. In a study formedby Bupa examining the average Mexican lifestyle, Dr. Eddy Sollie, a medical director at Bupa,found that “healthy lifestyle choices among the surveyed are clearly missing, yet chronic diseaseis most prevalent among the general population… What is most concerning is that many of thesediseases are preventable, and we know that exercise and nutrition are effective lifestyle choices
Perkins 3to reduce the risk of developing long-term conditions” (republica.net). Such long-term conditionsinclude diabetes and heart disease, the two most deadly killers in North America. They are linkedto obesity, a condition involving excess body fat that affects heart health and the efficiency of thebody’s immune system. The physique of the average Hispanic person is often described as overweight. Wheninvestigated, this obesity reveals a lack of proper nutrition. The average Hispanic family lives ona traditional diet of corn, bread and beans. Many families cannot add leafy greens to their dietbecause they are not mass produced in Mexico due to its desert geography. These commoditiesmust be imported from around the world, which is often a costly option. Furthermore, the foodmay retain diseases that cannot be properly washed away due to polluted water in the pipelinesystem. Expense, disease, and pollution force Mexican families to choose “foods [that] are cheapand widely available” (foodbycountry.com), rather than foods that are healthy. However, there is another option to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Vigorous exercise is asubstitute. In the same study conducted by Bupa, the testers found that “nearly one-third (30%)of cardiovascular disease and more than one-fourth (27%) of diabetes could be avoided ifeveryone began to incorporate exercise to their daily routine” (republica.net). Just as with diet,proper exercise habits are difficult to achieve. Bupa added that “when asked to name theirbiggest barrier to making healthier lifestyle choices, one-third of those surveyed stated it waslack of time (33%), while almost one-fourth (23%) stated it was due to the expense”(republica.net). Not only is a healthy lifestyle more expensive, but the exercise component alsoconsumes time that can be used to support the family. Due to the poverty of most rural families,lifestyle choices may not even be an option.
Perkins 4 Mexico is still a developing country. Most of its resources and technology areconcentrated into government projects and large cities such as Mexico City and Puebla.Mexico’s main medical problem is that “despite much higher access to infrastructure and healthservices in urban areas, infectious diseases such as diarrhea and acute respiratory infections areequally common among urban and rural poor children. This suggests that water and sanitationsystems are of remarkably poor quality. While much attention is being paid to expandingcoverage, quality is not keeping up” (World Bank). The only way to live in such an atmosphereis to fight microorganisms through medical technological advances. Sadly, most of the urban andrural population are overcrowded and have limited access to a doctor. Those who live in isolatedareas may not have any medical help at all, allowing diseases such as Hepatitis A and rabies torun rampant. Children are exposed to millions of pathogens and infectious bacteria every day.Staying healthy is a feat that cannot be accomplished if a certain quality of life is not sustained. Furthermore, sufficient medical help comes with its own set of problems. Many commonmedical stimulants, such as Aderol and OxyContin, are coveted by drug addicts. Thesemedications are often abused to gain a temporary “high,” and a majority of their users live inCentral America. Naturally, these legal drugs are often stolen, sold, and abused by those in theunderground industry. Drugs are the biggest money makers on the black market, and havedangerous consequences when they are abused. The modern world has a larger base of drug users now more than ever before. Narcononconducted an Addiction Survey in 2008 and found that in Mexico alone “the number of peoplewho had used drugs increased by a million between 2002 and 2008 - from 3.5 million to 4.5million… for those between the ages of 12 and 25, 43% are exposed to drug use; half of those
Perkins 5experiment with drugs and 13% use drugs frequently. The number of those addicted to illegaldrugs increased 51% to nearly half a million” (narconon.org). This statistic is further supportedby the current drug war ravaging Mexico. In Mexico, drugs are almost completely accessible.The “power plants,” places where drugs are grown, are everywhere, making it a simple job topick the desired poison up from a local dealer. Drugs such as marijuana are known to thrive andgrow in many places – even someone’s backyard. That is what makes it so easy to produce anddistribute. Mexican authorities do not stress enough the danger of marijuana and other drugs. The“high” users experience is nothing compared to the serious mental side effects marijuana causes.“The natural chemical balance of the brain is disrupted, affecting the pleasure centers andregulatory systems…depression often occurs with marijuana usage, which feeds into the cycle ofmore drug use to treat the pain created by drug use” (marijuana-addiction.net). However, drugcartels and other dealers are not interested in their customers’ health. They are only interested inmaking a profit. Thousands of pounds of marijuana are shipped, flown, and smuggled around the worldevery year. What may shock some Americans is that the biggest market for Mexican drugscartels lies within the United States. According to dailycaller.com, “Mexican Drug TraffickingOrganizations (DTOs) maintain drug distribution networks or supply drugs to distributors in atleast 230 U.S. cities… [they] transport multi-ton quantities of drugs from Mexico into the UnitedStates annually using overland, maritime, and air conveyances.” The cartels actually controlparts of the Mexican border using methods such as bribery and threats. Anyone who stands intheir way is often cut down. DTOs generate a product many consumers are desperate and willing
Perkins 6to pay any price for, and will resort to violence in order to protect their industry. In 2007, “morethan a thousand people [had] been slain throughout the country in the first six months of [the]year in drug-related violence”(News America Media). Police officers and Special Forces workaround the clock to prevent drug cartels from making their profit, but drugs are not the onlyproblem. Other battles wage within Mexican cities. Murder, theft, and sexual abuse appear in suchoverwhelming numbers that authorities simply cannot keep up. Often, “Mexicos violence isspectacular and lurid [with] tales of street shootouts, decapitations and bomb blasts fillingMexicos news pages and airwaves” (mcclatchydc.com). Sadly, the media is telling the truth.Due to a massive collapse in the funding of police training, a lot of criminals involved inorganized crime are able to walk in the streets with their weaponry freely displayed. Sometimesthey even collaborate with corrupt police forces to commit their crimes (travel.state.gov).Internal corruption is the reason why Mexico and other countries all over the world are slowlycrumbling. In conclusion, the people of Mexico face many dilemmas. Due to food shortages, medicalcomplications, drug wars and violence, they are forced to consider escape routes. However, theremay be a solution. A simple first step to educating Mexican citizens about developing goodhabits would be to use medical coloring books, in order to show young children what a healthylifestyle looks like. Coloring books blend fun with learning new concepts. Pictures imprintthemselves in children’s minds, which is useful when trying to portray a topic that is oftendifficult to absorb through simply reading. Associating pictures with words provides a biggerimpact for people of all ages when trying to bring across a point. By instilling good habits early,
Perkins 7the next generation can develop into well-educated and informed young adults, ready to helpsolve their country’s problems. Works CitedAdvameg, Inc. “Food in Mexico-Mexican Food, Mexican Cuisine.” Food in Every Country. Advameg, Inc. , n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2011. <http://www.foodbycountry.com/Kazakhstan- to-South-Africa/Mexico.html>.ASSOCIATED PRESS. “Poverty in Mexico grows 1.7 percent in 2 years.” Chron. Hearst Communications Inc., 29 July 2011. Web. 23 Oct. 2011. <http://www.chron.com/ business/article/Poverty-in-Mexico-grows-1-7-percent-in-2-years-2081134.php>.Ballasy, Nicholas. “Mexican Drug Cartels - US Influence - Justice Department Report - The Daily Caller.” The Daily Caller. The Daily Caller, 30 Sept. 2011. Web. 23 Oct. 2011. <http://dailycaller.com/2011/09/30/drug-war-mexican-cartels-u-s-reach-expands-over- 400-percent-in-two-years/>.Davis, Matthew. “Globalization and Poverty in Mexico.” the National Bureau of Economic Research. National Bureau of Economic Research, n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2011. <http://www.nber.org/digest/apr05/w11027.html>.
Perkins 8EMarketed. “Marijuana Side Effects.” Marijuana Addiction. eMarketed, 2005. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. <http://www.marijuana-addiction.net/marijuana-side-effects.htm>.Encyclopedia of the Nations. “Mexico Poverty and wealth, Information about Poverty and wealth in Mexico.” Encyclopedia of the Nations. Advameg, Inc. , 2011. Web. 22 Oct. 2011. <http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/economies/Americas/Mexico-POVERTY- AND-WEALTH.html>.The Hunger Project. “Mexico.” The Hunger Project. The Hunger Project, n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2011. <http://www.thp.org/where_we_work/latin_america/mexico/ overview?gclid=CMXlpuj25asCFUnr7Qodqm5wKA>.Narconon International. “Mexico Drug Addiction - Mexican Drug Use.” Narconon. Narconon International, 2011. Web. 23 Oct. 2011. <http://www.narconon.org/drug-information/ mexico-drug-addiction.html>.New American Media. “American Weapons Flood Mexico, Fueling Violence - NAM.” New America Media. Pacific News Service, 11 July 2007. Web. 23 Oct. 2011. <http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/ view_article.html?article_id=ae0f349b5a2797fa94e4da7f5022104f>.Office of Inspector General. “Mexico.” Travel.State.gov. Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State, 23 Feb. 2011. Web. 23 Oct. 2011. <http://travel.state.gov/travel/ cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_970.html#crime>.
Perkins 9Republica. “Bupa Health Pulse Survey Reveals Mexicans Lead Unhealthy Lifestyles.” Republica. The Republica Building, 20 Dec. 2010. Web. 23 Oct. 2011. <http://republica.net/bupa- health-pulse-survey-reveals-mexicans-lead-unhealthy-lifestyles/>.Root, Jay. “Mexico crime continues to surge- McClatchy.” McCaltchy. McClatchy Washington Bereau, 22 Sept. 2007. Web. 23 Oct. 2011. <http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2007/09/22/ 19879/mexico-crime-continues-to-surge.html>.World Bank Group. “URBAN POVERTY IN MEXICO.” 23 Feb. 2006. PDF file.