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Raising begging standards in Mexico

A bare-chested boy boards Mexico City’s Metro and throws a rag on the floor.

It clangs like cutlery as it hits the aisle – but it’s not knives and forks this 16-year-old hustler is selling.

Spread out on the dirty cotton are broken bottles and shattered glass.

The teenager propels himself backwards onto the shards below.

His young shoulders, already thick with scar tissue, are dripping with blood as he gets back to his feet.

“I’m forced to do this because there’s no other way I can make money,” he explains to everyone as he makes a whip ’round.

Judging by the yellowness of his skin, he’s already contracted hepatitis. It’s a big price for such small change.

The shock value seems lost among passengers on the capital’s Ruta 1.

Self-harm performances are not the kind of thing you expect on the Underground, but they’re not so unusual here. It was the second time in a day I witnessed such violent begging.

Off steps the bottle boy, rag in hand, and on comes a squat middle-aged Mexicana trying to flog the latest pirate CD.

Latin America’s answer to Perry Como costs only 20 pesos. Who could resist?

And so it goes on…tambourine men, guitarists, and people flogging everything from financial magazines to baldness cures.

At night, women and children are separated into different carriages for their own safety and police have mounted lookout posts on most platforms.

The transport system itself works well considering it serves a metropolis of more than 25 million people.

It’s cleaner, more efficient, cheaper and less crowded than the Tube could ever hope to be.

Take note London mayor Boris Johnson; you could learn a lot by spending a day on Mexico’s Metro.

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