Mexican President Commits to Full Employment for Youth, Invokes FDR Model

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is taking executive action to eradicate the devastating social problem of youth in the country. According to OECD figures, nearly 22% of Mexican youth are in the category labeled “NEET” — not in employment, education or training. These are the youth who are most often driven into the ranks of the drug cartel armies which have taken over much of Mexico, because they see no other option for survival.

Under one of the two programs announced, the government will provide 3,600 pesos a month (appr. 160 euros) for young people who work as apprentices, in workshops, factories, and businesses. The inspiration to do so, he explained, came from FDR:

“I have had this idea since I read how President Franklin Delano Roosevelt pulled the United States out of the 1930’s crisis. What did he do, in a tremendous economic crisis? He decided to put the whole U.S. people to work. And he decided to put young people to work, and he paid them a dollar a day, for every young person. But his idea was full employment. That is, a job for everyone. That idea stuck in my head, because Roosevelt lifted the United States out of the crisis, and for me he was therefore if not the best president, one of the best which the United States has had — Franklin Delano Roosevelt, by that action, by that decision. Now we are going to do something similar: All young people to work.”

One day later, on Jan. 2, López Obrador issued a call for tens of thousands of youth between the ages of 18 and 30 to join a new National Guard which his government is creating to help restore peace and public security in the country, which has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. This initiative aims to recruit young people into serving the nation, rather than being instrumentalized by the drug cartels. The program offers training, a stable job, a secure and decent salary, education and professional development, housing, food, clothing and equipment, vacations, transportation expenses, life insurance, and comprehensive medical care not only for themselves, but also for their parents and families.