In Mexico, phrases such as “Quarantine is a class privilege” or “Romanticizing quarantine is a privilege“Have gone viral, because mtos of 30 million people work in the informal sector, making it difficult to survive in times of quarantine by COVID-19. The government has taken economic measures that may be insufficient for this part of the population.
In Mexico, quarantining, doing a “home office,” constantly washing your hands is a class privilege.
In our country, more than 30 million Mexicans live a day. So the economy cannot be stopped because if they don't work, they don't eat.
– beu '(@ Beu2345) March 27, 2020
On March 31, 2020, the measures of partial and voluntary confinement to face the pandemic were announced. At the time of writing, there were 3,844 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 233 deaths, and 633 recovered in Mexico.
Since March 31 there has been a suspension of non-essential activities, compliance with sanitary measures such as congregations of a maximum of 50 people, recommendations to wash hands regularly and greetings without physical contact; and lastly, a month-long campaign for the protection or home quarantine, also popularized with the hashtag # QuédateEnCasa.
More than 30 million people work informally
In Mexico, according to official data published in 2019 by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), 30.8 million people work informally and 15 million of these work without constituting a company, that is, they work from informality with resources that come from their homes. These groups include domestic workers, agricultural groups, private teachers, micro-entrepreneurs, street vendors, and merchants.
According to a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), in 2014 almost 60% of Mexican workers have informal jobs. This means that the general recommendation of “Stay at home” becomes difficult or impossible for this sector.
The salary, if they continue working in times of pandemic, is not enough for the basic basket for half of Mexicans, according to data shared by Rogelio Gómez Hermosillo, coordinator of the Citizen Action Against Poverty project. 25% of workers employed by a company work without a stable contract.
Street vendors in Mexico who sell tacos, clothing, or juices, say riot police have been evacuating informal workers from their posts. Vendors Nora and Venancia told DW that “the riot police are at the end of the block (…) and when they come, we pack up and try to hide.”
Roger Gomis, an ILO economist emphasizes that a new report in which he participated “that it is very important to make specific programs for these workers, specifically making cash transfers to compensate for lost income, but also to ensure the provision of goods of first necesity”.
An economic plan?
The Mexican federal government, after weeks of uncertainty, has released an economic recovery plan on April 6. 25,000 pesos (a little over a thousand US dollars) will be allocated, in the form of credits, to one million small and medium-sized companies in the formal and informal sectors.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that the government is “going to look for a simple and quick mechanism for the delivery of resources,” by bank branches by the beginning of May, and that the only guarantee for loans is “the word”. After three months with the first loan, the million family businesses would receive 850 pesos each month for three years.
In fact, it will be a help to a million small formal and informal companies, when the population that depends on informal work exceeds 30 million.
“The selection to receive the benefit will be made through the registry that the Mexican government has, of five million applicants,” according to Infobae, and “small business owners who are authorized will receive a phone call” to go to a bank branch. . Before the economic plan was official, news outlet DW commented that government initiatives could be difficult for many workers in the informal sector to access. The economic plan received criticism for being, from the point of view of several business associations, “insufficient”.
The government also plans to continue its social welfare programs and the controversial construction of the Maya Train and other infrastructure to generate employment.
According to another InfoBae report, “an association of 5,000 street vendors in the historic center of Mexico City said in late March that it would give 6,000 pesos ($ 250) to each vendor to encourage them to stay home and criticized the government of the city for not offering more support. ”
For the time being, people in the informal sector are still working. “I can't stop,” Leonardo Meneses Prado, a hamburger vendor on a sidewalk in Mexico City, told the New York Times. “If I don't sell, I don't eat. That easy.”