Javier is trying to grind out a living on the streets of Mexico City playing his harmonica for restaurant patrons for a few coins. It was tough enough to find work before the global economic crisis hammered Mexico, but now it is almost impossible.
He talks about trying to find construction work, which he has done before. "But it is difficult, real difficult," he says, "they say even the city government is firing their street cleaners and cutting their salaries." He talks about going north to try his luck in the United States. "But it's hard there too," he admits. As he thinks about his family, his eyes dart with the worry and desperation shared by many of his fellow Mexicans.
The crisis could finally push Mexico over the brink, into disaster. According to the country's weekly news magazine Proceso, "unemployment, increasingly costly public services, family debt, and desperation because of hunger" as a result of this crisis, "are causing increasingly violent reactions. The fed-up clamor in a wide array of the population, that is now becoming more evident, could soon become what, although some see it as far-fetched, many think is entirely possible: A social explosion." Premonitions of this social explosion are fed on a regular basis by well-publicized acts of violence, perceptions of a dramatic growth in criminal activity and, on a more hopeful note, the recognition that many political, social and labor activists are trying to organize this discontent to push for real changes in the structure of Mexico's economy, especially its core neoliberal policies that many on the left believe to be at the root of the crisis.
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