THE CONTRERAS REPORT: A middle class makes Mexico different

The Mexican middle class turned its back on President Lopez Obrador on June 6, Election Day.

What is Mexico’s middle class? How large or small is it? Most Americans have no idea that Mexico has one of the highest middle-class populations outside the United States, Canada and Europe.

Most Americans have little idea how Mexico manages to buy over $250 billion worth of goods and services from the United States. They don’t know that Mexico buys 15 percent of all of America’s total exports and that Mexico is the second largest trading partner with the United States.

Mexico is the 10th largest country in the world, with more than 127 million people. Its economy is ranked 11th now and could be No. 5 in 10 years.

Mexico’s middle class is larger percentagewise than many countries, including some in Europe.

The middle class has become the target of thorough examinations in the political sphere since the June 6 elections. Why? Because wealthier parts of Mexico City voted for the opposition in nine of the city’s 16 boroughs.

But who exactly belongs to the social/economic middle class in Mexico?

The National Statistics Institute (INEGI) has conducted a study to define the middle class:

  • 42.2 percent of the nation’s households can be categorized as middle class, which amounts to 39.2 percent of Mexico’s population.
  • In urban areas, the middle class is a majority of households, at 50.1 percent, which covers 47 percent of the population.
  • 28.1 percent of households and 26 percent of the population in rural areas are middle class. It should be noted that Mexico’s population is 30 percent indigenous — Indian — that mostly lives in rural areas and speaks as many as 70 indigenous languages and rarely speaks Spanish. Mexico has the largest indigenous population of any Western Hemisphere nation.

The upper class (Mexican oligarchs?) is only 1.7 percent of the national population and 2.5 percent of households. They are usually labeled “peso billionaires.”

Some common characteristics were found by INEGI that can loosely define a middle-class family.

According to the study, a middle-class household is likely to have a computer, and a married couple in a four-person family.

It also has at least one credit card.

The head of the household is likely to have a high school education or some college or a four-year degree (Mexico’s public universities are tuition free), be a property owner or mortgage payer, and work in the private sector.

After the June 6 elections, the Mexican middle class was bitterly attacked by the president, a wealthy former PRI party hack governor of the state of Tabasco and mayor of Mexico City.

The middle class dumped Lopez Obrador’s party and switched Mexico City from rule by Lopez Obrador’s party to the opposition. President Lopez Obrador lost 15 points of middle-class votes that helped him win the presidential election in 2018.

After the election, the middle-class became a target of President López Obrador, who branded it “aspirational and selfish” and prepared “to succeed at all costs.” He also mistakenly declared that a manipulated middle class was what allowed Adolf Hitler’s fascism to grow in Germany and supported the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile.

Lopez Obrador is definitely not a qualified historian. German industrialists and oligarchs were the key to Hitler’s rise; his electoral history was about 30 percent of the popular vote before, with oligarch help, he instituted his Nazi regime.

He ignores the fact that the rest of Latin America has smaller middle-class populations than Mexico and are, because of that fact, poorer, less governable and usually are run by small groups of either extremist rightwing oligarchs — Guatemala, Brazil and Honduras —or leftists and communists — Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela.

Mexico is fortunate to have 40 percent or more of its people in the hemisphere’s largest middle-class south of the Rio Grande. Lopez Obrador should be grateful to that class despite its turn away from his party on June 6; it voted for him in 2018.

Lopez Obrador will be long gone in nine years when economists predict that Mexico “will surpass Germany by 2030” and will enjoy becoming the seventh largest economy in the world with a middle class that will be larger than it is today by 2050.

“Adios” minor leaguer Lopez Obrador; “bienvenidos” (welcome) Mexico to the big time.


Raoul Lowery Contreras is host of The Contreras Report, available at and

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