Michoacán’s Self Defense Group, Edgar Tamayo’s Execution, and Davos – Weekly News Summary: January 24

January 24, 2014

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English language press had to say…

This week’s news centered on the vigilante groups present in the Mexican state of Michoacán. The Economist stated that an uneasy peace has settled on Apatzingán, a 99,000-strong city in western Mexico. The federal government this week sent in troops to disarm “self-defence” groups operating in Michoacán, Mexico’s most troubled state. The deployment came as these groups advanced on Apatzingán, the stronghold of a vicious gang called the Knights Templar, which controls drugs, extortion and other crime rackets. Michoacán represents the biggest challenge to President Enrique Peña Nieto’s claim that violent crime has waned since he took office late in 2012. In a speech on January 13th Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, the interior minister, described the state’s recent bloodshed as “unparalleled and unprecedented” and ordered forces to intervene. The self-defence groups say they are filling a void in law enforcement; Mr Osorio retorted that, if they wanted to protect their communities, they should join the local police instead. The Los Angeles Times

The New York Times featured a piece on Edgar Tamayo’s’ execution. The newspaper wrote that Despite opposition from the State Department, Mexican officials and Latino advocates, Texas executed Edgar Arias Tamayo on Wednesday night, putting to death a Mexican citizen whose case raised questions about the state’s duty to abide by international law.

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Energy Reform Approved, Border Infrastructure Spending, and Biden “Guarantees” Immigration Reform – Weekly News Summary: December 13

December 13, 2013

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English language press had to say…

This week’s news outlets centered in the Energy Reform approved by both the Mexican Senate and Chamber of Deputies. As expected, the law includes measures to open the oil and gas industry to private and foreign investment, through cash, profit-sharing and production contracts. What is new however, as a Forbes article explains, is the legal entity of the “license”. Although the legislation still explicitly prohibits the use of concessions in the hydrocarbons sector, the license will act in a very similar way, with the idea that it will be applied to unconventional projects like shale. The Economist noted that, as a consequence of the Reform, financial markets reacted with a burst of enthusiasm absent for most of the year, although it also claimed that the potential benefit from the reform will depend on the strength of secondary legislation that will specify what contracts will be offered for which type of oil or gas field, and what royalties and taxes the government will take. Finally, The Global Post noted that there were still political hurdles to overcome and that it will take a while before Mexico finally sees the investments and technology it needs to improve capacity and modernize Pemex.

On another topic, several news outlets highlighted stories concerning border issues. KPBS noted that U.S. and Mexico officials joined together on Tuesday in San Diego to signal construction crews to begin work on a $700 million border infrastructure project. The goal of the new freeway, and eventually a new port of entry, is to increase the $54 billion worth of goods that move across the Tijuana – San Diego Region by cutting border wait times that exceed two hours. The New York Times published a story describing how, even when agents do their jobs professionally and well, current immigration policy fosters insanity and menace in the Southern Border. It argues that when migrants have no hope of visas, the Border Patrol’s job is made harder while the drug lords get richer. On another note,  the San Diego Union Tribune published a piece stating that the unprecedented spending of the U.S. government on border security has led to a nearly nonstop stream of reports, audits and studies criticizing how some of that money has been spent. Customs and Border Protection has acknowledged errors but also insists the unprecedented boost in spending has made the border far more secure.

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Senate Passes Political Reform – Energy Reform Next, Stolen Radioactive Material, and Mexico´s Competitiveness vis-à-vis China – Weekly News Summary: December 6

December 6, 2013

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English language press had to say…

This week the Washington Post noted that Mexico’s Senate passed the most dramatic political reform attempt in decades which would allow re-election of federal legislators, create new election oversight and make the Attorney General’s office independent from the executive. It also highlighted that the Senate is moving on to energy reform, which is considered the most critical part of the reform package that President Enrique Peña Nieto is pushing to have passed before the end of this year. The Economist noted that it will be difficult for Mexico´s left to stop the Energy Reform after Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador suffered a heart attack on December 3rd. His absence weakened a blockade of the Senate that he had promised. Meanwhile, the Financial Post was not enthusiastic over the Energy Reform. In an article published this week, it argued that that even if the proposed reform is passed within a year, it could take up to 10 years for production to begin in the deep-sea reserves. Additionally, the profit-sharing contracts may not be as profitable as anticipated, as the terms under the proposal stipulate that foreign companies would receive a share of the revenues from the fields, rather than the oil and gas to sell themselves.

In another note, the BBC reported on Wednesday that a truck carrying medical radioactive material had been stolen near Mexico City. Mexico’s Nuclear Security Commission said that at the time of the theft, the cobalt-60 teletherapy source was “properly shielded”. Nonetheless, the Washington Post noted on Thursday, that the theft of the material sparked international concern over the possibility that the cobalt-60 could be used in a “dirty bomb.” By Wednesday afternoon, the same news outlet reported that authorities had found the stolen the radioactive material. The National Journal claimed that after the theft, a group of critics questioned if the International Atomic Energy Agency’s radiological security rules were enough for securing radioactive materials.

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Energy Reform Necessary to Maintain Mexico’s Moment, Michoacan’s Vigilante Groups and Mark Zuckerberg “Hacks” for Immigration Reform – Weekly News Summary: November 22

November 22, 2013

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English language press had to say…

This week’s press had interesting reports on the Mexican economy. The New York Times published an article describing how dozens of foreign companies are investing and filling in new industrial parks along central Mexico. As a result, middle-class housing is popping up and new universities are waving in classes of students eager to study engineering, aeronautics and biotechnology, signaling a growing confidence in Mexico’s economic future and what many see as the imported meritocracy of international business. On a similar note, the Wall Street Journal noted that even though Latin America has been a laggard among developing markets this year, some advisers are convinced the resource-rich region is poised for a turnaround. But instead of investing once again in Brazil, portfolio managers are finding smaller markets in Mexico and Chile as better bets to tap into Latin America’s long-term growth. Finally, the Economist claimed that to implement and to boost sustaining growth, a bold energy reform is needed. Without it, Mexico’s moment may prove to become fleeting one.

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John Boehner must act on immigration now – Op Ed

November 20, 2013

MEXICO CONGRESSThe Washington Post,  11/19/2013

Poor John Boehner. The beleaguered House speaker can’t even eat breakfast in peace. The other day, a pair of teenage girls, activists for immigration reform, accosted him at Pete’s Diner, his early-morning hangout, to ask how he’d like to be deported.

“How would you feel if you had to tell your kids at the age of 10 that you were never coming home?” 13-year-old Carmen Lima, of California, asked Mr. Boehner. “That wouldn’t be good,” allowed the speaker.

The House speaker wants to tackle immigration reform — just not the main part. He got that right. The rest of his remarks on immigration that day, not so much. Mr. Boehner, who pledged to press ahead with immigration reform a year ago following Mitt Romney’s dismal performance with Latino voters, now says the House will not negotiate with Democrats on the basis of the sweeping reform bill passed by the Senate in June with bipartisan support. Translation: Don’t hold your breath for immigration reform this year, and don’t get your hopes high for next year, either.

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Mexico is the New Export Hub for Nissan in the Americas, John Boehner and Immigration, and Why Security Costs are 15% of Mexico’s GDP– Weekly News Summary: November 15

November 15, 2013

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English language press had to say…

There were several news articles focusing on the Mexican economy this week. Reuters highlighted that Nissan Motor LTD is projecting to build 1 million cars in Mexico by 2016, which will help the Country position itself as the export hub in the Americas. The Chicago Tribune noted that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel took his first international trip to Mexico City to sign an agreement that commits the two cities to work together to build up exports, foreign investment, a skilled workforce and research endeavors. According to the article, Mexico City is the Chicago metro area’s second largest North American trade partner, after Toronto. The Wall Street Journal noted that the Mexican Congress has approved a fiscal deficit for next year equivalent to 3.5% of gross domestic product. With the additional spending, the government is trying to jump-start the economy and avoid another year of very low growth. Finally, Al Jazeera America published a piece stating that, despite claims of a growing middle class and increased jobs, poverty in Mexico is rising and the poor “don’t see any difference”.

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Latinos’ Role in Local Elections, Wave of Success for Mexican Filmmakers, and President Peña Nieto takes Boldest Security Step Yet– Weekly News Summary: November 8

November 8, 2013

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English language press had to say…

One of the main topics for this week’s news outlets was on the role Hispanics are playing in local elections. According to the New York Times, Republicans in Congress have seen two test cases for how the party should move on immigration. Exit polls showed that Gov. Chris Christie boosted to a blowout victory because he improved his standing among Latinos by 19 percentage points over his first run. In Virginia, it is estimated that Latinos accounted for 35,000 out of about 55,000 votes in Mr. McAuliffe’s slim margin victory. According to the Newspaper, House Republicans are becoming aware of the strategic importance of Latinos.

In a similar topic, Politico reported that the AFL-CIO is poised to launch a seven-figure television campaign assailing House Republicans for their inaction on immigration reform. These new commercials are aimed at raising the stakes for the whole Republican Party in the debate over immigration, said AFL-CIO strategist Tom Snyder.

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“Attacks on Mexican state energy firms, continuing energy and fiscal reform debate in Mexico, and is immigration reform in the US ‘undead’?”

November 1, 2013

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

 What the English language press had to say…

The week began with reports that in the state of Michoacán, an unspecified number of electricity substations and six gas stations were attacked and damaged early on Sunday. According to a report by Al Jazeera, local media said blackouts affected more than 400,000 people across the mountainous state of some 4.4 million. Parts of Michoacán “have fallen under the control of criminal gangs who are fighting among themselves and against authorities. It is not clear who may have been behind the attacks in Michoacán, where clashes between the powerful Knights Templar drug cartel and rival gangs have sparked much violence.”  As reported by The New York Times, there was also an incident involving an explosion in Ciudad Juarez. A Chihuahua state attorney general’s spokesman said that three people died from injuries in a candy factory explosion on Mexico’s border with the United States. Finally, The Washington Post reported that “a geyser of gasoline spewed into the sky from a state-owned pipeline in western Mexico, forcing officials to evacuate about 5,000 people Wednesday. Authorities blamed the accident on fuel thieves tapping into the pipe.

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NSA Spying Scandal, Immigration Reform, and Peña Nieto’s Need to Present a Law-Enforcement Strategy

October 25, 2013

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English language press had to say…

This week the press largely covered the NSA spying scandal of worldwide leaders. According to CNN, the National Security Agency “systematically” eavesdropped on the Mexican government. It hacked the public e-mail account of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, which was also used by Cabinet members. According to the news outlet, Mexico’s foreign ministry said in a statement “This practice is unacceptable, illegitimate and against Mexican and international law”.  The New York Times stated that Felipe Calderon declared that the spying was an affront to Mexican institutions that should be addressed by current Mexican authorities. Calderon also said he will closely follow the efforts by Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department to get an explanation from the United States. Nevertheless, the Los Angeles Times noted that although Mexico’s foreign and interior ministers held news conferences Tuesday to complain, many saw it as an expression of outrage carefully muted to ensure that Mexico didn’t do too much damage to its relationship with the U.S. The Newspaper concluded that the U.S. and Mexico are a pair of classic “frenemies” who can’t help offending each other yet can’t quite seem to quit each other either.

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Fiscal Reform and the Impact on the “Middle Class”, Violent Protests, and the US Saves Mexico in Soccer (for now!)

October 18, 2013

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English language press had to say…

Mexico’s tax reform, which was passed by the lower house late in the evening of October 17th, was one of the most prominently featured topics in the English language press this week. A New York Times article noted that Mexico’s lower chamber of representatives approved a revised government tax plan which aims to boost receipts by 3% of GDP by 2018. The bill raises the “top income tax rate on a sliding scale to 35 percent, imposes a 5 percent tax on junk food and rolls back plans to apply sales tax on rents, mortgages, property sales and school fees.”  According to the piece, Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said that the revisions will leave the government with a revenue shortfall of 55.7 billion pesos ($4.4 billion), which will be collected from the oil revenue forecasted. The bill must now be passed by the Senate before mid-November, as it is tied to the 2014 budget. A Wall Street Journal piece noted that the vote was 317-164 in favor of the bill, with the support of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party and the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution. Business groups and the conservative National Action Party strongly opposed the tax increases. Although the reform presented by the President didn’t include an extension of sales tax to food and medicines, it caused a storm among business because it raises taxes and eliminates dozens of deductions and corporate loopholes. The lower house also passed Mr. Peña Nieto’s proposed tax of one peso a liter on sugar-sweetened beverages, an increase in the sales tax to 16% from 11% in border states, and a 10% tax on capital gains also remained in the bill.

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