I know you would probably prefer to see photos from the last two days of our adventures but I really have the need to share some thoughts about Mexico. I have been reading information disseminated by some Mexico blogs and forums and it is simply not true or misconstrued.
Why does this happen in the first place? Don't get me wrong and don't think I have anything up on anyone who lives or travels here. However, that being said, some rvers and ex-pats live in an isolated Mexico. That is to say they never travel, work or live in major cities of Mexico, pay no taxes, utilities, construct or remodel their homes on their own. This leaves a lot of information about Mexico hanging in the air and their misinformation based on their experiences.
Let's start with worker pay. I know I have written about this before but it is worth repeating. In Mexico we have a minimum wage structure. There are three minimum wages scales based on areas of the country where people live. No one in Mexico makes 64 pesos a day. Not true. Mexicans at all levels and positions are paid in multiples of minimum wages. For example, construction workers make four minimum wages a day or 1280 pesos a week. This is after tax. In fact, anyone who makes less than 5000 pesos a month pays no income tax. In addition to their pay, all Mexicans who are registered (social security number) are by law required to receive a Christmas bonus, Social Security pension, medical attention for themselves, spouse, children and any other family dependent living in their house, utilidades (profit sharing), despensa (food coupons based on their income), one time fixed rate home loan, a subsidy of 50,000 pesos for buying that home. There are more goodies that each employee receives.
Education: Primary education is free in Mexico. There is a quota that is charged by the PTA in each school to help maintain the building and the grounds. The government supplies the building, furniture, and teachers. The rest is left to the PTA. Electricity is provided free to all schools in Mexico public or private including high schools and universities. Scholarships are available in large numbers for all reasons including lack of resources to those students with special needs as well as those living with family members other than parents. High school runs around 14 dollars a month and state universities 230 dollars a semester. Uniforms and school supplies are subsidized by the state and federal government and books are provided at no cost to primary and secondary students.
Someone mentioned that cigarettes are 3 pesos a piece and workers only make 64 pesos a day. In Mexico, some small corner stores sell cigarros sueltos or individual cigarettes. Why? Some people like a smoke now and then and don't have the need to buy a whole pack. Why three pesos per cigarette? It is what the market will bear. In general though, if smoking is really important to you, some cigarettes can be had for as low as 20 pesos a pack.
Businesses and self-employed pay taxes monthly via internet only. No manual forms exist and payments are made in any bank at no charge.
Utilities, credit cards, money transfers can all be paid in banks, online, and in the case of Telmex and the CFE they also have ATM machines to make payments with cash and return change.
Tax deductions for gasoline can only be made if a credit or debit card is used for payment so many gas stations now accept credit cards. Trust me, truckers don't carry 10,000 pesos in cash with them to fill their tanks on their routes. Some say that Canadian cards don't work well in Mexico and that may well be true. We use Mexican and American without any issue. All Pemex stations are franchises and are not owned and operated by the government. That was an issue that went on in the forums in San Miguel de Allende for over two months before I could prove that the major gas station was owned by the guy in the big house behind it. National oil company that gives franchises to individual owners. That is why we now have convenience stores with gas stations.
Speaking of convenience stores, 7 Elevens located in 9 Mexican states, now accept bank deposits, pay utility bill payements, credit card payments, buy cell phone service, Mexican pay pal, send money transfers and purchase insurance for U.S. travel by buying a scratch card depending on the number of days you want from 1 day to 3 months. (all of which can be done in dollars as well as pesos)
ATMs in Mexico also dispense U.S. dollars. Banorte banks in Mexico have 4000 ATMS of which 1100 dispense U.S. dollars and Mexican pesos. Checking bank websites will show lists of ATM locations and which ones offer dollars.
There is so much to share and I hope this clears things up for some people. I also hope that no one is offended by this post but I felt it was important.