A few weeks ago, the Legatum Institute’s released its global Prosperity Index—which I wrote about here—that took both macro-economic indicators and social well-being into consideration. In the Index, Mexico’s rankings were solidly mixed—landing in the bottom quarter in security but jumping to the upper tier in measures of its economy. In a longer piece I wrote for Legatum, titled “Mexico on the Brink,” I take a more in-depth look at Mexico’s varied performance, outlining where the country is doing well and where it needs some improvement. It begins:
At 8:30 in the morning, when Adrián Cadena picked us up on the Ciudad Juárez side of the Paso del Norte US–Mexico bridge, the temperature had already hit 90 degrees. We drove for half an hour to reach Villas de Salvárcar, the neighborhood where, in a case of mistaken identity, his son—an accomplished student and an avid football player—had been gunned down, along with 14 friends, while celebrating a birthday in one of their homes. Cadena took us first to the memorial for the young men, and then to the park next door—replete with basketball courts, football and soccer fields, and even an outdoor theater space—where he and others have poured their grief, energy and money to help improve the lives of the youths still living there.
Two things struck me that day. One was Cadena’s personal resilience and the surprising optimism he conveyed about his city’s future. The other was the road out to the neighborhood, where, despite the ravages of organized crime and gang violence, factory after factory had been built to produce everything from flat-screen TVs to wind turbines to beer. Speaking with the editor of a local paper, I learned that, even at the depths of the city’s security crisis, few factories left upped sticks. And now the death toll was declining, more still were arriving.