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The Oxford Place of the Year 2018 is…

Our polls have officially closed, and while it was an exciting race, our Place of the Year for 2018 is Mexico. The country and its people proved their resilience this year by enduring natural disasters, navigating the heightened tensions over immigration and border control, engaging in civic action during an election year, and advancing in the economic sphere. The historic events in Mexico in 2018 have resonated with our followers.

Mexico withstood multiple natural disasters in 2018. Using a measurement called accumulated cyclone energy, which combines the number of storms and their intensity through their duration to indicate a measurement of tropical activity in a region, the 2018 hurricane season in the northeast Pacific is the most active on record. Including the most recent Hurricane Willa on the western coast of Mexico, there have been 10 major hurricanes in the area this year. Additionally, tropical Storm Xavier became the 22nd named tropical storm of the 2018 eastern Pacific hurricane season in early November. Mexico has also had multiple earthquakes, including one with a magnitude of 7.2 in southeastern Mexico, epicentered in the state of Oaxaca. Following a surprise victory over World Cup champions Germany in June, it was initially reported that the ferocity of the fans celebration caused earthquake detectors to go off. However, it was later discovered to be a naturally occurring earthquake, unrelated to the fans’ festivities.

Following almost a year of intense negotiations, in early October the United States, Mexico, and Canada agreed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with a significantly revised trade deal. The newly named “United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement” (USMCA) has replaced the 1994 pact that governed upwards of $1.2 trillion worth of trade between the three countries. While the comprehensive agreement is lengthy, there are significant changes on cars, new policies on labor and environmental standards, intellectual property protections, and provisions on digital trade.

The country and its people proved their resilience this year by enduring natural disasters, navigating the heightened tensions over immigration and border control, engaging in civic action during an election year, and advancing in the economic sphere.

Despite the cooperation in negotiating USMCA, there has been and continue to be intense clashes at the border of Mexico and the United States. Immigration and disputes over the border have dominated the political dialogue in both nations throughout 2018. This tension is best demonstrated by the 7,500 migrants arriving at the border in the past weeks, fleeing from the threat of violence in their home countries. These large groups, referred to as “caravans” by the media, plan on seeking asylum within the United States. US President Donald Trump is intent on preventing this from coming to fruition, and has sent troops to the border in order to prevent the migrants from crossing. Recent reports have shown the soldiers have thrown tear gas at some of the migrants as they attempt to enter the US.

Mexico also had a dramatic year in domestic politics, as general elections were held on 1 July 2018. After 18 years of establishment politics in office, leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected president in a landslide victory, securing more than half the vote. He campaigned on a development agenda that would increase spending on social programs, including increased pensions for the elderly, expanded educational opportunities for students, and stronger subsidies for farmers. He will begin his 6 year term in office on 1 December 2018. On the federal level, outside of the President, Mexicans elected 500 members of the Chamber of Deputies and 128 members to the Senate. Overall there were 3,000 positions up for election, making the 2018 election unprecedented in its impact upon the political sphere in Mexico.

Many of those in politics in Mexico work to make government more democratic for its citizens. Watch below to hear how Cecilia Soto González (a leading member of Congress and Mexico’s first female presidential candidate to receive nearly 1 million votes) explain how she incorporates that into her work.

In order to gain a firsthand perspective about life in Mexico, we asked our colleagues at Oxford University Press México to share what they love most about their country. We had an overwhelming number of responses about what Mexico has to offer the world. While we have many more to share with our followers later this week, we wanted you to see one of our favorites, from Luis Miguel González:

If I could sum up what Mexico is in just one word I would have to choose FAMILY.

Mexico, just like a family, is a microcosm of emotions and feelings, of smells and flavors, sights and wonders.

Our country is a place where sometimes you’ll encounter chaos but also the place where the word peace finds its meaning.

Mexico like our family is where the heart always returns. We return to its millenary traditions mixed with 21st century life style; to its vast variety of heartwarming food and drinks; to its beautiful narrow cobble stone streets and old churches, but also to its hectic and feverish cities. We return to the white sand beaches and to the mountains and volcanoes, to the rivers and the deserts, to the warmth of a coal-stove kitchen, to the melody of a mariachi-played song, to the loudness of a soccer match and to the quiet mayhem of our graveyards in Dia de Muertos.

But where everything comes together is in the heart and soul of the Mexican people. We are unique, we know how to bring a smile to our faces even in the most difficult of times. We are collaborative and giving. We love like no one else does, if you’re accepted and welcomed you become part of our families. We can party (and do it in style), but we’re also as hardworking as any.

Mexico is like family. We as a country are far from being perfect. We have many issues to tackle, but we wouldn’t change our country for the world. To me Mexico is the greatest place on earth.

Featured image credit: Close-up of Red, White, and Green Country Flag by Tim Mossholder. CC0 via Pexels.

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