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It seems that the Mexicans of today, like those of yesterday, January 24, and very likely those of tomorrow, are condemned to face problems that the rulers of the past, present and very possibly the future did not know (or want), they know. (or want) nor will they know (or want) to solve.

The division between conservatives and liberals is one of them. A good example of this is given almost every day by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who accuses his “conservatives” of all the country’s ills.

As a journalist, I have had to comment or analyze various issues that, despite the passing of the years, still have no sign of a solution or that, although they seem to have been resolved, once again complicate our lives.

For example, in the first program I hosted on Radio Formula, on November 2, 1989, I analyzed with four guests what was then the growing problem of street vendors in Mexico City. One of them, who was a PRI deputy whose name I do not remember, insisted over and over again that the then head of the DF government, Manuel Camacho Solís, would solve it in a matter of months, which evidently did not happen. Thirty-three years later, informal commerce has taken over the streets, not only in CDMX, but in most of the country’s urban centers, which demonstrates the failure of federal and local governments to generate an economic system capable of create decent jobs for millions of people.

Inflation is a good example of a recurring problem that, when we thought it was under control, has made our lives difficult again.

Interestingly, how price increases hit us individually was the subject of the column with which I began my journalistic career, 40 years ago today.

Indeed, on Monday, January 25, 1982, my column appeared in the newspaper El Universal, the first of who knows how many that I have written since then, and in it I showed that, between December 1980 and December 1981, the prices of 25 products that a young professional, married with two children, probably bought in CDMX, had an average increase of 54.04%, almost double the 28.74% that the National Consumer Price Index of the Bank of Mexico had for that same period.

Some increases that I noted in that column: Box of 150 disposable tissues, from 6.80 to 21.80 pesos (+221%); a kilo of sangria grapefruit, from 1.80 to 4.50 pesos (+150%); a liter of NOVA gasoline, from 2.80 to 6.00 pesos (+114%); a jar of 800 g. of mayonnaise with lemon juice, from 42.90 to 67.50 pesos (+57%); filtered cigarettes, from 15.60 to 21.00 pesos (+35%). In just one year, the prices of a ham and cheese cake and a consultation with a pediatrician increased 67%, and a woman’s visit to a beauty salon increased 150%.

Today I celebrate 40 years of practicing my trade and rereading my first column reminds me of that catastrophic time when inflation wreaked havoc among Mexicans: it ruined lives, further impoverished the poor, made the middle class poor, diluted the wealth of many, and frustrated the future plans of many more. And all because of the crazy populist policies and the demagoguery of those who then badly governed the country, policies that the AMLO government is once again promoting.

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Eduardo Ruiz-Healy

Journalist and producer

guest column

Opinionist, columnist, lecturer, media trainer, 35 years of experience in the media, microentrepreneur.

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