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Place of the Year 2018 nominee spotlight: Mexico

Mexico has had an eventful 2018, both on the national and international stage. With conversations centered on immigration, natural disasters, economic advancements, and political protests, the country and its people have been front and center.

On November 5, Mexico City received their first wave of migrants from a large group of people travelling through Mexico towards the United States. Approximately 450 people have taken temporary shelter in a stadium, as authorities in Mexico City have prepared food, shelter, medical and legal advisers, drinking water, and have had residents donate clothes and shoes for travelers. The group of about 5,000 people—known as a caravan—set off from Honduras. Many of the migrants plan to seek asylum in the United States, saying they are fleeing from persecution, poverty, and violence in their home countries. US President Donald Trump has said that he will use the military to completely shut the US-Mexico border if necessary, and has threatened to cut aid to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, three of the countries migrants are fleeing. The US president has even deployed troops to the border to keep the migrants out.

Mexican immigration has remained a popular talking point within United States political conversation during the 2018 election season, contributing to great polarization and tension. The number of family members arrested at the US-Mexico border rose to roughly 16,658 in September, a 31 percent increase over the previous month, and the most recorded in a single month since fiscal year 2012 when the Border Patrol started compiling records.

Mexico has also endured multiple natural disasters in 2018. One earthquake hit Mexico City right after the Mexican national soccer team defeated Germany in the World Cup, leading to initial speculation that the quake had been caused by jubilant fans. This was proven untrue shortly after, however—it was in fact an entirely natural earthquake. On the Pacific coast of Mexico, it has been a difficult hurricane season. At the beginning of November, Tropical Storm Xavier became the 22nd named tropical storm of the 2018 eastern Pacific hurricane season, making this year’s hurricane season the most active since 1992.

GIF by Nicole Piendel for Oxford University Press.

In economic news, Mexico, the United States, and Canada agreed on a revised trade deal to replace NAFTA in early October, called USMCA. It is expected to be signed by the end of November, and then will be sent to Congress for approval. Despite the cooperation, however, tensions remain high as immigration remains a talking point in both countries.

Mexican citizens are becoming more and more politically engaged in protest of their leadership’s decisions. In late October, Mexico’s President-elect López Obrador announced that he would respect the result of a referendum that rejected a partially built $13 billion airport for Mexico City. Following the announcement, Mexico’s peso declined more than 3 percent against the US dollar, with the interbank rate ending at 20.06 pesos to $1. Banco BASE said it was the biggest single-day drop since November 9, 2016, following Donald Trump’s election as US president. There has been a public backlash, with a protest of 5,500 people marching in Mexico City on November 11. The protesters questioned the constitutionality of the cancellation decision, and expressed their lack of trust in Obrador.

Do you want to learn more about Mexico and immigration? Try these titles: Mexico: What Everyone Needs to Know, Mexico: What Everyone Needs to Know Second Edition, Borders: A Very Short Introduction, and Citizenship: A Very Short Introduction.

You can also learn more about natural disasters such as those plaguing Mexico with these titles: Climate: A Very Short Introduction, and Weather: A Very Short Introduction.

Finally, if you’re interested in learning more about the culture of Mexico, listen to this recent episode of our podcast, the Oxford Comment. Culturally, societal changes in post-revolutionary Mexico of the 1920’s produced shifts in urban women’s activity and mobility that were reflected in their dress and appropriation of indigenous stylistic and symbolic traditions. Women today continue to use traditional forms, such as embroidered huipiles, as a means of expressing their identities and rights through fabric. Listen to William Beezley, Professor of History at the University of Arizona and Editor in Chief of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History, as he moderates a roundtable discussion with historians Stephanie Wood and Susie Porter about Mexican women’s self-expression through textiles and dress. For all Oxford Comment episodes, find us on Spotify.

Featured image credit: “ancient-architecture-backlit-building” by Rafael Guajardo. CC0 via Pexels.

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