A majority of Mexicans are Catholics, but the popular religious practice has elements of traditional religions, including ancestral and spiritual worship. Freedom of religion prevails according to the constitution and is respected by the authorities.
The National Saint Our wife of Guadalupe is considered a revelation of the Virgin Mary who also links to the religions of origin; according to legend, she must have spoken nahuatl when she revealed herself in 1531 to a man who belonged to the indigenous peoples.
The Catholic Church in Mexico historically had strong ties to the colonial power of Spain, which elicited anti-church sentiments during the Revolution (see Ancient History). Then the priesthood was persecuted and harsh restrictions on the church were introduced in the 1917 Constitution. These were first repealed in 1992, which meant, among other things, that priests were given the right to vote and the right to teach in schools.
In recent decades, other Christian communities have gained new followers. Among them are Pentecostals, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Mormon Church. It has created contradictions, especially in the south, where Catholics are accused of harassing other religious groups. In a 2010 census, about one tenth of Mexicans identified themselves as Christian but not Catholic.
There are also smaller groups of Jews and Muslims in the country.
The majority of Mexicans are mestizos, with those with Spanish inheritance predominating. The Indians as the second largest population group belong to about 40 still existing tribes. The Aztec, Maya, Otomi, Zapotec, Mixtec, and Totonac are the largest.
However, many Indians feel increasingly discriminated against by the state government and the socially dominant mestizos. The resulting ethnic tensions often escalate, as recently in the mountains of Chiapas. The Zapatistas have been fighting here for the interests of the Indian population since 1994.
Population development and distribution
After Brazil, Mexico is the most populous country in Latin America. With almost 2% annually, the country also has high population growth. A significant part of the population, especially in rural areas and in the rapidly growing slums on the outskirts of the overpopulated cities, can only be insufficiently supplied. Many poor Mexicans therefore try to emigrate, preferably to the USA. Most of them only cross the heavily secured border illegally or are arrested because the American government wants to limit immigration.
The population distribution is very uneven. More than half of all Mexicans live in the central region around the capital. The proportion of the urban population is also growing steadily and is now around 75%. Almost 20 million people live in the Mexico City metropolitan area alone.
- Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Mexico, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.
The USMCA trade agreement enters into force
The new United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement between Mexico, Canada and the United States, which replaces the 1994 Nafta agreement, will formally enter into force (see also December 2019). It includes, among other things, new agreements on intellectual property, digital commerce, financial services, labor law and the environment. It happens at a sensitive time, when the corona pandemic has hit hard on all three countries’ economies. In April, trade between countries was at the lowest level in a decade.
Relief in restrictions despite high infection
Factories reopened, albeit with strict hygiene rules, the day after travel restrictions were lifted. In their quarters, the hotel and restaurant business opens at least partially. The relief comes despite the spread of infection at a high rate. Over 150,000 confirmed cases of corona have been reported and about 17,500 people have been found dead in covid-19. The actual figures are assumed to be considerably higher.
More and more people are dying of homemade
More than 120 people are estimated to have died within a month of drinking homemade alcohol, as a result of the cessation of beer production during the corona pandemic. Deaths have been reported from several states. Manufacture of beer and spirits is down, as are other business activities that are deemed unnecessary. Criminal gangs have quickly taken advantage of the situation and started selling beverages that contain wood liquor or methanol, a type of alcohol that is toxic.
Deadly journalist murdered
Journalist Jorge Armenta is murdered in an armed attack in Ciudad Obregón in the north, despite being under police protection. One police officer is also killed and one injured in the attack. Jorge Armenta, the manager of Medio’s Obson, had received death threats. He became the third journalist of the year to be murdered in Mexico, which Reporters Without Borders calls the most dangerous in the world for journalists among countries not at war.
Imprisoned gang leader dead in covid-19
Los Zetas drug cartel leader Moisés Escamilla May is reported to have died in prison after falling ill in covid-19. According to the Ministry of Health, Escamilla had no known illnesses, but he suffered from respiratory distress and was taken to hospital where he died after a day. Escamilla was arrested in 2008 and sentenced to 37 years in prison for murder, organized crime and illegal weapons possession. In September, the Senate approved an amnesty for prisoners sentenced to less serious crimes, in an attempt to reduce the spread of the corona virus. In Mexico, nearly 3 500 people have now died in covid-19.
Oil countries are reducing production
The member countries of Opec and other oil-producing countries – including Mexico – agree on what is known as a “historic agreement” to reduce production to raise oil prices. It is at the lowest levels in almost two decades due to the ongoing corona pandemic and a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Mexico has long resisted such a significant reduction in its oil production, but ultimately agreed to reduce almost as much as was requested. In total, the reduction will correspond to almost a tenth of world production.
Criticism against the president for corona management
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is increasingly criticized for his handling of the corona crisis that sets footprints worldwide. Mexico is now one of the few countries in Latin America that has not closed borders or taken other hard restrictions. The president himself has toned down the effects of the virus and encouraged people to go out and socialize as usual. In Mexico City, however, the authorities will close all bars, clubs, cinemas, theaters and gyms as of March 23.
Strike against violence against women
Millions of women take part in a day-long strike in protest against the widespread violence against women. The day before, on International Women’s Day, about 80,000 attended a demonstration in Mexico City. Some unrest erupted and some 60 people were injured. During the strike day with the slogan “A day without us”, women stay home from work and school. The protest is widespread and visible in public settings where few women move during the day. Around ten women are killed every day in Mexico.
Ex-president Peña Nieto under investigation
Former President Enrique Peña Nieto is being investigated in connection with a scandal in the state oil company Pemex, the US Wall Street Journal reports. The investigation is linked to Petrobras former manager Emilio Lozoya, who was arrested in Spain last week and who is at risk of being extradited. He is accused of receiving millions in bribes in a scandal that also includes Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction giant who has admitted nearly a billion in bribes to politicians across Latin America.
30th of January
The economy shrank by 0.1 percent in 2019, reports the country’s statistics office. This is the first time since the global financial crisis in 2009 that growth has been negative. The task is troublesome for President López Obrador, who has promised 4 percent growth and claimed in December that the economy was good. According to analysts, investment has declined in Mexico due to uncertainty since left-wing President López Obrador took office just over a year ago.
Central American migrants are sent back
Migration authorities say that 2,300 Hondurans who had crossed the border from Guatemala the week before were now sent back. Almost half of them flew out while the rest were forced to return by road from the states of Chiapas and Tabasco. In all, around 3,500 people in what was called the “2020 caravan” had tried to cross a border where they were met by the Mexican National Guard. Riot broke out with tear gas and stone throwing. It was the first time Mexico forcibly prevented migrants from entering the country.
Ecuadorian opposition members are granted asylum
Mexico grants political asylum to four MEPs and seven other members of the opposition in Ecuador. The four MPs, who belong to ex-President Rafael Correa’s National Revolutionary Movement, have stayed at the Mexican embassy in Quito since the unrest in Ecuador in October, but have now flown to Mexico by regular flight.
Over 60,000 “disappeared”
The number of people who disappeared in Mexico during the war on drugs since 2006 amounts to over 60,000, according to new statistics. The figure is 50 percent higher than the 40,000 that have been estimated to have disappeared so far. Most of the victims are believed to have fallen victim to drug paraphernalia and organized crime, but security forces are also behind murders and disappearances. Around 53 percent of those missing were between 15 and 35 years old, and three out of four were men. Authorities estimate that 61,637 people have disappeared in Mexico since 1964, of which the absolute majority since then-President Felipe Calderón began the so-called war on drugs. In 2019 alone, more than 5,000 people disappeared.