Mexico City’s Plan Verde

April 22, 2014

environment - child hugging treeGreen Cities

Previously known as one of the world’s most polluted cities, Mexico City is cleaning up its act, starting with Plan Verde (Green Plan). This 15-year initiative began in 2007, and is backed by the United Nations and the World Bank. Plan Verde aims to set aside approximately 8% of the city’s annual budget for implementing extensive and ambitious initiatives to make the city more environmentally friendly. These initiatives cover many topics of sustainability, but the main focus is on improving air quality and reducing traffic. Environmental awareness has been expanding throughout Mexico as efforts are made to preserve water supply, increase renewable energy production, and protect endangered species. Mexico City is leading the country in its environmental endeavors.

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Mexico food labeling rules draw fire on sugar

April 22, 2014

Obese manThe Washington Post, 4/21/14

Mexico’s new food labeling rules were supposed to help fight an obesity epidemic, but activists and experts said Monday they may actually encourage the public to consume high levels of sugar. The debate over sugar has grown bitter, in a country with one of the highest obesity rates in the Western Hemisphere.

The new label rules unveiled last week list the amount of sugar and other contents as a percent of recommended daily intakes. The new labels will no longer list the weights of the ingredients, instead simply listing them as calories and percentages of recommended daily intake.

But the labels assume that an average acceptable daily consumption of sugar is about 360 calories, equivalent to about 90 grams of sugar. The World Health Organization has proposed a sugar intake of as little as 100 calories or about 25 grams per day.

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Mexico Honors a Colombian Writer Who Many Considered One of Their Own

April 22, 2014

Photo by Flickr user mansionwb

NY Times, 4/21/14

Every March, often with a yellow flower pinned to his lapel, Gabriel García Márquez stood on the stoop of his home here to greet well-wishers on his birthday.

He wrote his foremost work, “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” here in the mid-1960s after a flash of inspiration during a drive to the Pacific resort of Acapulco with his family.

And after Mr. García Márquez’s death on Thursday at his home, more than a few Mexican writers and admirers, who drank with him, danced with him and argued long into the night with him, laid claim to his soul despite his Colombian roots and works that found devotees far from Latin America.

“I always considered him a Mexican of Colombian origin,” said Homero Aridjis, one of Mexico’s most acclaimed poets, who met Mr. García Márquez in 1962, a year after he arrived. “Or a Colombian firmly rooted in Mexico.”

So it seemed fitting that the first public memorial service for Mr. García Márquez, who was 87, took place here on Monday, with thousands of people braving a hot sun — and later, rain — to file into the city’s most esteemed cultural hall, the Palace of Fine Arts, and pass his urn amid wreaths of yellow roses, his favorite.

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New NPR Series ‘Borderland: Dispatches From The U.S.-Mexico Boundary’

April 21, 2014

border2Reports on NPR Newsmagazines March 19-28

In an effort to discover how two nations influence each other, Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep and a team of NPR journalists traveled the 1,900-mile length of the U.S.-Mexico border to report on the people, goods and culture that cross the heavily-fortified boundary. NPR News presents the dispatches and related coverage as the multipart series “Borderland,” exploring major issues such as immigration, the drug trade, business and cultural change through the personal stories of people who live where the countries meet. “Borderland” begins airing today on Morning Edition,continuing daily until March 28 across the show as well as All Things Considered and Weekend Edition Saturday and Sunday, and are also available online at npr.org/borderland.

“Borderland” humanizes border issues, which are hotly-debated but not always well-illuminated. Inskeep and fellow journalists talk with migrants, refugees and law enforcement officials, and meet with writers, musicians and workers in Mexican factories known as maquiladoras. NPR’s John Burnett, Kelly McEvers, Carrie Kahn and Ted Robbins, as well as Monica Ortiz-Uribe and Jude Joffe-Block of public radio’s Fronteras Desk also offer complementary reports in the series.

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Mexican president to head homage to Garcia Marquez

April 21, 2014

Photo by Flickr user mansionwb

Associated Press, 4/21/14

The presidents of Mexico and Colombia are expected at a memorial ceremony for novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The homage to the late writer is being held Monday at Mexico City’s most prestigious cultural venue, the Bellas Artes theater.

Garcia Marquez had ties to both countries. Born in Colombia, he spent much of his adult life and wrote his greatest works in Mexico. Colombia’s ambassador to Mexico says it’s up to the family of the Nobel laureate who died Thursday in Mexico City. The family has not revealed its wishes.

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Mexico earthquake shakes Acapulco, surrounding area

April 21, 2014

acapulcoThe Christian Science Monitor, 4/18/14

A powerful earthquake shook Mexico on Friday, damaging more than 100 homes in the southwestern state of Guerrero and opening cracks in some buildings but there were no reports of deaths. Striking close to the popular beach resort of Acapulco, the 7.2 magnitude quake sent people scurrying out of homes and hotels, causing brief panic from the Pacific coast to states in central and eastern parts of Mexico.

At least 127, mostly adobe homes were damaged in Guerrero. In the state capital Chilpancingo, a tower of the cathedral suffered cracks along with a few other public buildings, a spokesman for local emergency services said. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said the earthquake’s epicenter was about 37 km (23 miles) north of the municipality of Tecpan de Galeana in Guerrero, and it struck at the relatively shallow depth of about 24 km (15 miles). Lasting more than a minute, the quake was felt as far away as the states Puebla and Tlaxcala in central eastern Mexico.

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Citigroup’s Banamex Says Alleged Bad Loans Will Hurt Profit

April 16, 2014

finance-market_dataThe Wall Street Journal, 4/14/14

Citigroup Inc.  ‘s Mexican unit, Grupo Financiero Banamex, said Monday that its first-quarter net profit will be reduced by $112 million due to reserves it has set aside to cover seemingly bad loans to Mexican oil services firms.

The cut comes on top of Citigroup’s move to reduce its fourth-quarter and full-year results by about $235 million after finding allegedly fraudulent billings at its Mexico unit.

Banamex said that the new charge is related to loans it extended to Oceanografía SA de CV, the company that Citigroup accused of fraud in February, as well as from loans to a second oil services firm that appears to have also engaged in fraud.

Citigroup disclosed earlier Monday that the second potential fraud it has uncovered involved less than $30 million in credit. The New York bank declined to reveal the name of the second company. Mexican authorities said Citigroup hasn’t yet filed charges against another oil services firm.

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Autoridades trasladan a Apatzingán a integrantes de autodefensas detenidos

April 16, 2014

prisonCNN Mexico, 4/15/14

La Secretaría de Seguridad Pública (SSP) de Michoacán trasladó este martes a 20 personas relacionadas con grupos de autodefensas al Centro de Readaptación Social (CERESO) de Apatzingán, procedentes de diferentes reclusorios del país.

En un comunicado, la dependencia estatal refirió que esta acción forma parte de los 11 puntos acordados el lunes entre autoridades y líderes de autodefensas de la región de Tierra Caliente, en la entidad michoacana.

Entre los acuerdos para darle una solución legal a la operación de los grupos de civiles armados en Michoacán, se estableció que a partir del 11 de mayo los integrantes de autodefensas que no se sujeten a los puntos pactados, podrán ser detenidos y consignados ante los tribunales.

Este martes, la SSP Michoacán detalló que las personas trasladadas desde diferentes centros federales de detención (en Veracruz, Estado de México y Tamaulipas) a Apatzingán, están recluidas junto con otras 35 personas relacionadas con grupos de autodefensa michoacanos.

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Are U.S. Companies More Willing To Play Along With Mexico’s Corruption Culture?

April 16, 2014

money laundering -- dollar billsReuters, 4/15/14

Citigroup (NYE:C) disclosed Monday that it had found another case of fraud in its accounts-receivable program at Banamex, its Mexican unit, involving a supplier to Mexico’s state oil monopoly Pemex. In a teleconference, the bank’s chief financial officer, John C. Gerspach, did not reveal the identity of the supplier, but citing Pemex sources, the Mexican press identified it as Evya, a Mexican oil service company.

Gerspach reported that the breach involved less than $30 million in costs to Citigroup. He added that the supplier was in the process of paying back Citigroup and the bank expected “full restitution.”

According to its website, Evya,  based in the southeastern state of Campeche, is a “100% Mexican company” that provides engineering and maintenance services. Between 2003 and 2014, Evya signed 84 contracts with Pemex. The Mexican press identified brothers Francisco Javier, Luis y Roberto Camargo Salinas as Evya’s owners.

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Vigilantes to disarm in Mexico’s Michoacan state

April 16, 2014

m16 gun closeupLA Times, 4/15/14

The Mexican government has set a date for the so-called self-defense militias in the troubled western state of Michoacan to dissolve and account for their weapons, a move that does not necessarily signal the end of the vigilante movement.

Alfredo Castillo, the administration’s point-man for Michoacan state, said in a series of interviews Tuesday that the militias had agreed to disband by May 10.

Those who want to continue patrolling the towns of Michoacan will have to become part of a new statewide rural police force, Castillo said. All current militia members, however, will be allowed to keep their weapons, regardless of whether they join the police force, as long as they register them with the army and keep them at home, he said.

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