October 18, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 10/18/2013
Congress’s lower house of Congress passed late Thursday a special tax on junk food that is seen as potentially the broadest of its kind, part of an ambitious Mexican government effort to contain runaway rates of obesity and diabetes.
The House passed the proposed measure to charge a 5% tax on packaged food that contains 275 calories or more per 100 grams, on grounds that such high-calorie items typically contain large amounts of salt and sugar and few essential nutrients.
The tax, which was proposed just this week, is sure to stir controversy among big Mexican and foreign food companies that operate here. It comes on top of another planned levy on sugary soft drinks of 1 peso (8 U.S. cents) per liter that was passed by the same committee, an effort that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg supported.
October 17, 2013
The Los Angeles Times, 10/16/2013
Irma Lopez, a Mazatec Indian, waited to receive attention at a medical clinic in Oaxaca, but her labor pains became overwhelming. Spurned by the nurses, she retreated outdoors — and abruptly gave birth to a baby boy on the hospital lawn.
A few days later, it was revealed that two other pregnant indigenous women had also been turned away from Oaxaca hospitals, one of whom also delivered on the lawn, and that a fourth woman had been forced to have her baby on the reception floor at a hospital in Puebla.
October 16, 2013
The New York Times, 10/14/2013
Mexican authorities say cholera has sickened 159 people, including one who died, and spread to four states and the capital. It is the first local spread of the disease since an outbreak that ended in 2001.
Health Secretary Mercedes Juan says one person died in the central state of Hidalgo, where 145 of the cases have been reported.
October 16, 2013
The New York Times, 10/16/2013
Rosa Isela Sandate kicked her drinking habit about six months ago and swears she will never go back.
She would down a Coke or a Boing!, a tooth-jangling sweet local drink, at every meal. Her belly grew so big that diners at her lunch stand thought she was pregnant and warned her against working too close to the grill. “They said, ‘Take very good care of the baby, the heat will hurt it,’ ” she said. It was hard banishing the sugary drinks, recalled Ms. Sandate, 31, nursing a large bottle of water, but the effort paid off. She has lost 13 pounds.
The government would like more Mexicans to follow Ms. Sandate’s example. In a bet against an epidemic of obesity and diabetes, President Enrique Peña Nieto has proposed a tax on sales of all sugary drinks. If it goes through, the tax will make Mexico a rare test case of a national soda tax directed at a severe obesity problem.
September 26, 2013
The Washington Post, 9/26/2013
For many, the first experience of Mexico City is a sprawling airport and an appalling stink. It wafts from the manholes and leaves the morning air smelling fresh as a septic tank. The odor problems are a result of poorly managed wastewater and trash in a sprawling metropolis whose population — 20 million by official count — outgrew its infrastructure decades ago. Authorities have sought for years to find a solution.
Now, it’s new Mayor Miguel Mancera’s turn to try to deodorize the city’s B.O. This month he announced plans to control the foul odors that waft from the city’s only compost plant at a landfill near the airport and to more aggressively recycle trash citywide. The ambitious $135 million plan calls for construction of three bio-gas plants to produce electricity from compost. It will include more recycling programs so that by the time it’s completed in 2018 all 12,500 tons of trash produced daily is recycled, Mancera said.
September 25, 2013
Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon is spearheading a study sponsored by seven countries into the economics of climate change, seeking to elucidate the financial benefits of reducing carbon emissions. Calderon’s panel will draw from the experiences of companies and governments around the world in fighting off the ravages of storms and droughts, and in cutting greenhouse gases. It also will use academic research to show the costs and risks associated with climate change and efforts to stem it, publishing a report next September to guide policy makers.
September 10, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 9/10/2013
The Mexican government proposed penalizing sugary beverages with a special tax in an effort to contain twin epidemics of obesity and Type 2 diabetes, attempting to join countries such as France and Hungary in taxing sweet drinks in the name of public health.
President Enrique Peña Nieto’s tax overhaul unveiled on Sunday targets all sugar-sweetened beverages, not just soda, in a country where seven of 10 adults are either overweight or obese. An estimated 15% of people over age 20 have adult-onset diabetes.
September 3, 2013
The Los Angeles Times, 9/3/2013
Former President Vicente Fox grew up on a farm here in rural Guanajuato, one of Mexico’s most conservative states. He is the kind of guy who wears big belt buckles, collects hand-tooled saddles and worships the free market.
Ask him about his experience with the drug culture and the big man with the cowboy-movie mustache exhibits a kind of straight-laced pique: Never smoked pot, he says. Hardly knew anyone who did.
But Fox has always fancied himself a policy maverick. And these days, the former standard-bearer of Mexico’s conservative National Action Party, or PAN, has emerged as one of Latin America’s most outspoken advocates of marijuana legalization.
August 29, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 8/28/2013
The public-health battle over sugary soft drinks, punctuated by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s failed attempt to ban big sodas, has spread to Mexico, long a stronghold of Coca-Cola Co.
This summer, a series of ads splashed across buses, billboards and along subway platforms here in the capital showed 12 heaping spoonfuls of sugar next to a roughly 20-ounce bottle of soda. The ads asked: “Would you eat 12 spoonfuls of sugar? Why do you drink soda?” The ad campaign has fueled a fledgling movement to rein in Mexico’s heavy soda consumption.
August 20, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 8/19/2013
Mexican industrialists defended the role that packaged food and beverage companies play in the national diet Monday amid rising concerns about belly fat.
Mexico’s latest national survey on health and nutrition showed in 2012 that seven out of 10 adults in the country are either overweight or obese, while diabetes and other chronic illnesses are on the rise, sparking debate among politicians about steps the government could take to address a growing public health crisis. Proposals on the table include a special 20% tax on sweet, fizzy soda–the beverage already carries sales tax–or extending the 16% sales tax to all processed food. Any such expansion in food taxes is expected to be folded into the federal government’s fiscal reform proposal, due for unveiling in September, as the oil-revenue reliant country seeks to expand its tax base.