Op Ed: To fix Washington, Look to Mexico

October 18, 2013

Christian Science Monitor, 10/17/2013

By Carlos Heredia

President Obama visits Mexico President Enrique Pena NietoMexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto’s political grand bargain among rival parties has helped usher in long-needed reforms. The US has something to learn from Mexico’s willingness to put country ahead of party.

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How Mexico Became So Corrupt

June 27, 2013

cross my fingersThe Atlantic, 6/25/2013

Grupo Televisa, the world’s largest Spanish-language media company, is famous for its logo, a gold-colored eye gazing at the world through a television screen. According to The Guardian, this logo “captures the company’s success at controlling and dominating what Mexicans watch”. In a country where newspaper readership is tiny and the reach of the Internet and cable is still largely limited to the middle classes, Televisa — and its rival TV Azteca — exert a powerful influence over national politics. Through its scores of stations and repeater towers, the former accounts for roughly two-thirds of the nation’s free-to-air television; most of the rest belong to Azteca.

Accused for decades of politically slanted news coverage, Televisa represents another rarely spoken fact: modern Mexico has never functioned without corruption, and its current system would either collapse or change beyond recognition if it tried to do so. Just before the 2012 elections, Mexican news magazine Proceso and The Guardian released evidence of a series of shady deals struck between Televisa and the nation’s powerful Institutional Revolutionary Party (the “PRI”).

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Op-ed: Mexico’s Toughest Job (Spanish)

June 6, 2013

people with question marksBy Carlos Elizondo Mayer-Serra, Reforma,

¿Cuál es el trabajo más difícil para llevar a cabo en México? Imagínese ser policía de tránsito. Mal pagado, sin el mínimo respeto de la ciudadanía, respirando aire contaminado en medio del calor, sin siquiera lugar para ir al baño. O cualquiera de los trabajos físicamente extenuantes, desde cortar caña a mover bultos de cemento. Pero dentro de los trabajos directivos uno de los peores debe ser el de gobernador. Pensará el lector que me volví loco. El jefe de un Ejecutivo estatal cuenta con mucho dinero. Los recursos que manda la Federación no han hecho más que crecer. Si son insuficientes, se puede pedir prestado al final del sexenio y luego pasarle la cuenta al sucesor.

Todo este dinero se puede usar con enorme discrecionalidad. La mayoría de programas de gasto social en los estados, por ejemplo, no tiene manuales de procedimientos. Es un puesto desde el que se puede enriquecer a compadres y amigos y darle trabajo a quien se desee. El gobernador suele controlarlo todo, desde el Poder Judicial local, hasta el instituto electoral de la entidad. No importa si gobierna mal. Basta un buen gasto en medios de comunicación. Los locales suelen estar bien dispuestos a recibir recursos públicos e incluso sobran medios nacionales generosos con el “góber”, claro, con contrato de publicidad de por medio. Y cuando un problema se pone difícil, siempre está la Federación para resolverlo, como ahora en Michoacán, cuyo gobernador enfermo no pudo enfrentar al crimen organizado.

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Ferrari Head of North America: Mexico Is The Next China

June 6, 2013

iStock_000008876270MediumForbes, 6/5/2013

Forget the hype about China – Mexico is the next big thing for automakers. “Mexico is the next China,” Ferrari North America CEO Marco Mattiacci said during a panel discussion today about the future of luxury. He was joined by Burgess Yachts CEO Jonathan Beckett and Gotham Jets CEO Gianpaolo De Felice for the hour-long talk, which was held aboard the $40 million yacht KATYA berthed in the Hudson River off New York’s West Side Highway.

Mattiacci said the massive growth anticipated in revenue and manufacturing didn’t necessarily pertain to Ferrari but to a broader 13-year expansion in the auto industry due mainly to dramatic wealth creation, an increased appetite for industry and from considerable investments from abroad. “We see indicators that lot of manufacturing is moving back to Mexico,” Mattiacci said. “The quality of education is absolutely outstanding, and you have a proximity with the U.S. as well. Plus there has been a change of government.”

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Amnesty Int’l says disappearances in Mexico ‘a human rights crisis,’ urges government to act

June 5, 2013

mystery manAssociated Press, 6/5/2013

The number of unsolved disappearances in Mexico constitutes a national scandal and a human rights crisis, Amnesty International said Tuesday, citing what it called a systematic failure by police and prosecutors to investigate thousands of cases that have piled up since 2006. Rupert Knox, Amnesty’s Mexico investigator, said relatives are often forced to search for missing loved ones themselves, sometimes at considerable risk.

Adding insult to injury, Knox said police and prosecutors often don’t even bother to use the information that relatives dig up. Instead, police routinely assume that the missing are caught up in Mexico’s drug cartel conflicts. “They are stigmatized, they are treated with disdain, and the typical thing is to say the victims were members of criminal gangs,” Knox said. “That is a demonstration of the negligence that has allowed this problem to grow into a national scandal and a human rights crisis.”

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Mexico government downplays deadly violence

April 12, 2013

crime sceneThe Los Angeles Times, 4/11/13

The new government claimed the homicide rate in February was the lowest single monthly toll in 40 months. However, the number, 914, was about 5% lower than Reforma newspaper estimates and did not take into account the month’s fewer days in calculating the comparison. Peña Nieto and his officials have deliberately sought to refocus attention on Mexico’s still sluggish economy and issues other than violence in hopes of burnishing the government’s image and attracting investment that would in turn finance ambitious domestic programs.

In many ways, the government propaganda campaign has succeeded. From Washington think tanks to local Mexican newspapers, many of which have been attacked or threatened by criminal gangs, a rhetoric has emerged that ignores facts and promotes discussion of the economy over violence.

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NAFTA Works: A monthly newsletter on NAFTA and related issues

April 8, 2013

mexico-usa-flag-montageMexican Ministry of Economy, March 2013

The trade relationship between Mexico and the United States demonstrated another solid performance as products traded between both countries set a new record at $494 billion in 2012. This past year was also a success as bilateral trade saw an increase of 7.1%, one of the highest trade growth rates among the U.S.’ largest trading partners.

Over the 19 years of NAFTA, trade between Mexico and the U.S. has sextupled, growing 10% annually, a rate that exceeds that of the U.S. trade with the rest of the world (7%). The U.S.-Mexico trade is not only bigger than the GDP of Belgium, Poland or Taiwan, but is also highly integrated along a complex and dynamic supply chain that reflects the way products are traded in the 21st century.

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Corruption Network Found in Pemex (Spanish)

March 7, 2013

120px-PemexExcelsior, 3/7/2013

Authorities from the energy sector in the federal government  informed that  a network of corruption involving companies, contractors, employees, and officials at various levels operates in PEMEX.

Energy officials shared that information with federal legislators and felt that this network of corruption can present a challenge  to energy reform  scheduled for the second half of the year.

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Old Politics and New Government

January 24, 2013

120px-Flag_of_Mexico_(1)

Perspectives on the Americas, 1/23/2013

Mexico has a new government but not a new reality. Problems do not change just because a change in government has taken place. A new government, however, has the opportunity to make its own mark on national politics by exercising effective leadership to produce a change of attitude and, eventually, of reality.

Two characteristics of the new PRI are evident. The first consists of the presence of a team of politicians experienced in governmental functions. The second is the perception that the PRI activists know that the voters have granted them their last opportunity to vindicate themselves and if they fail to deliver satisfactory results, they will be voted out of power in the next election. Both traits suggest that there will be great activism and skill in the PRI’s management of public matters; however, nothing guarantees that they will do the things that are needed to achieve their objective.

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Mexico Plans Partial Shutdown to Reduce Spread of Swine Flu

April 30, 2009

Bloomberg, 4/30/2009

800px-swine_flu_masked_train_passengers_in_mexico_cityMexican officials said the federal government will suspend all non-essential services and urged businesses to close to reduce the risk of spreading swine flu.

“For many families, the measures taken have involved a sacrifice,” President Felipe Calderon said in a nationally televised address. “It is worth it if we can protect the health of our own.”

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