On April 4, Assistant Professor of Economics Karol Gil-Vasquez of Nichols College gave a talk on the issue of youth criminalization in Mexico. Gil-Vasquez is currently conducting research for a paper that deals with the relationship between macroeconomics and crime. She has linked the criminalization of the youth of Mexico with the financial capitalism of Mexico.
Currently, Mexico is ranked the 12th biggest economy in the world by the CIA World Factbook. However, the country also has one of the largest poverty rates. Gil-Vasquez associated this poverty rate with crime and the fact that corporations are dominating politics in the country.
Gil-Vasquez said there is a rise in crime amongst young people, which she believes is partly due to the Maquiladora Industry. According to Team NAFTA, the Maquiladora Industry is a company that produces products whose materials and equipment, under the United States and Mexican government, are able to enter the country completely duty-free.
With the Maquiladora Industry came an influx of job opportunities to Mexico. While this seemed like an advantage at the time, the lasting effect has been quite negative. The “informal sector” — that which is not taxed, monitored by the government or included in a country’s gross domestic product calculation — accounts for a significant amount of jobs of Mexico, but that also happens to be where the crime and trafficking jobs are found.
As more and more young people are quitting school to work, the crime rate is increasing.
As more youth enter the workforce without continuing their education, they often find themselves swept up in the crime of Mexico. One in five children do not attend any form of school and have no means of income.
The youth of Mexico make up 38 percent of the homicide victims and a vast majority of the crimes are committed by those between the ages of 18-25. Professor Gil-Vasquez’s research also showed that about 30,000 children have been involved in some type of criminal activity.
She believes that the “human rights crisis is related to income equality” and that the rise of the top one percent is leading to the decline in those who are part of the bottom 99 percent.
Gil-Vasquez said that in order to alleviate the issue of crime in Mexico, the root of the crisis needs to be found and some kind of economic explanation needs to be reached.
Mexico as a country is facing a human rights crisis with some of the largest percentages of missing persons, homicides, mistreatment and torture in the world.
“The government can argue that this is only because of the war on drugs,” Gil-Vasquez said.
Gil-Vasquez, however, does not agree with this conclusion. The argument of her paper is that conditions that were previously there and that had been in place for decades in Mexico lead to the youth being sucked into this drug war. Gil-Vasquez argued that instead of placing the urgency and attention on the drug war, there should be some time taken to look at the banks and the ramifications that have followed their rise in power.