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Elias Castillo from Mexico, who has spent his life as a journalist in the US, writes: "Alberto Aleman was obviously referring to Mexican and Mexican American families who rise economically, become technicians, go to college, become professionals, leave the farm fields and move up from working as janitors, stoop laborers, and gardeners. Not all Mexicans remain in manual labor, although unfortunately the statistics show they are not rising economically. The reason is that competition for jobs is fierce because of the almost continuous flow of illegal Mexican immigrants across the border. That flow prevents those already here from rising economically and makes it very difficult to form unions, especially in Texas. Employers habitually fire many of those who dare ask for a raise and bid them farewell as they easily pick from the droves of other immigrants desperate to work.

The fault is not with the immigrants, the blame is with the Mexican government which callously and cruelly ignored the plight of its poor for 71 years, denying them adequate schools and imposing a closed market economy that destroyed any incentive for business competition that would have created jobs. As long as Mexico does not export goods of its own, i.e. mass globally marketable products designed by Mexicans, manufactured by Mexicans and distributed by Mexicans, there will be no change for that country's poor. Mexico's vast reserves of oil and revenue from that source are not enough to improve the country's foreign debt. The flow of pesos is outward as the country purchases more foreign goods each year and the debt climbs ever higher". NAFTA produces, through maquiladoras, only jobs with low salaries that sadly provide just day to day survival. Education and encouraging incentive, enterprise and creativity in its universities, plus imposing strictly enforced tax laws are critical keys to improving the Mexican economy.

Unfortunately, the PRI cares little about that subject. Its main concern is getting back into power and its strategy is to callously and uniformly block all economic reforms proposed by President Vicente Fox as part of their effort to demonstrate that his administration has done little to help Mexico. Fox is stymied, the PRI has the majority in Congress, and with only three years left in his administration he is now pleading with the PRI to think of Mexico's citizens and reach compromises on those reform proposals. Something he should have done in the first three years".

I assume Elias Castillo has figures to support his statement about Mexico's increasing debt. I do not. There is another side to the story of Mexicans rising from manual labor to professional status. The US, indeed the world, is full of young people who want to go to university and then get a nice executive job which will give them a big salary. For many this will be an illusion. The once prestigious MBA no longer is a sesame. We may produce a society with many university graduates unemployed or holding jobs far below their hopes. Such a society could be explosive.

Ronald Hilton - 09.22.03