According to Inegi, annual headline inflation until June 2021 was 5.88% Mario Jasso / Mario Jasso
Since February 2021, Jessica Alfaro and her partner stopped using the water heater in their apartment due to the impossibility of continuing to acquire a 20-kilo tank each month.
"Sometimes we don't heat it, but when it's cold we use an [electrical] resistance to spend less," says the 21-year-old.
Every day she tries to use the least amount of gas to cook for herself, her partner and her mother, and she does it with 100 pesos a day (less than five dollars).
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With an income level of just over 5,000 pesos (about $ 250) per month, Jessica and her family are not classified as poor according to the measurement made by the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval) in Mexico .
"I don't think we're poor, but I don't consider myself middle class either," explains Alfaro.
To be poor, monthly income must be less than 1,745 pesos a month, according to this institution.
Everyday goods such as LP gas and foods such as corn tortillas and tomatoes have triggered inflation in recent months.
According to Inegi, annual headline inflation until June 2021 was 5.88%, and has exceeded the inflation target estimated by the Bank of Mexico for this year, which placed it at up to 4% per year.
Around 80% of households in Mexico use LP gas for cooking and using the shower, so the sustained increase in this fuel has caused consumption habits to be changed in order to continue sustaining food.
To counteract this increase, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has recently proposed the creation of a new energy distribution company called Gas Bienestar, dependent on Pemex. The increase in liquefied gas above inflation has frustrated the government's promise to keep rates stable. The president has blamed this situation on the high concentration of the market on a handful of players. “There are five large companies that distribute almost 50% of the LP gas and they are getting very wide profit margins. Pemex sells them at a price and they sell to the consumer at a very high price ”, he declared.
Flor Reyes prefers to prepare foods that do not require much cooking, so she has stopped cooking beans from the pot and has chosen to cook pasta soup or cheaper proteins such as eggs. “I buy meat or chicken a couple of times a month, but I always buy what I am going to use during the day so that nothing goes to waste,” says the 48-year-old maid. Using green tomatoes instead of tomatoes, buying half a kilo of tortillas every day instead of one and a half for the week or ordering the exact amount of cheese or milk at the grocery store are some of the strategies Reyes uses to save some pesos at the time of purchasing food.
According to data from the Center for Multidisciplinary Analysis of the Faculty of Economics of the UNAM, the price of a Recommended Basic Basket has a cost of more than 1,000 pesos a day, and includes fruits, legumes, meat and does not include the price of energy or fuels for its preparation. “On average, 2.2 million employed workers have joined the ranks of extreme poverty, without a doubt that the figure is outrageous for a people mired in misery and is a clear sign of the continuity and worsening of the precariousness process. salary of Mexican workers ”, indicates David Lozano, economist at UNAM.
The last 20-kilo gas tank that Francisco Flores bought in the Azcapotzalco mayor's office cost him 560 pesos (about $ 28), little more than what he earns in three days of work.
"Now you do go vegan out of necessity, not out of taste," says the 38-year-old employee on the phone.
With temporary jobs, he and his family of five eat around 150 pesos a day, but he says they don't go hungry.
"As they say, where they eat two, they eat three and even five," he reflects.
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