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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U.S., Mexico Officials Break Ground On San Diego Border Infrastructure Project

December 11, 2013

KPBS, 12/10/2013

Photo by Flikr user Rockin RobinU.S. and Mexico officials joined together on Tuesday near Otay Mesa Road and SR 125  to wave orange flags  and 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 cut border wait times and boost cross-border trade.

Read more….


Tijuana to use drones

December 9, 2013

Tijuana airportUT San Diego, 12/9/2013

Drones soon could help Tijuana authorities monitor traffic, evaluate accident scenes, detect landslides and control wildfires.

Mayor Jorge Astiazarán said this week that he’s preparing to buy several small, unmanned aircraft for the city, making Tijuana one of the first municipal governments in Mexico to use drones.

“The main idea is that they help with surveillance of the city,” Astiazarán said in an interview. “This won’t just be used for public safety, but to see how the city is growing, discover clandestine dumps … monitor any land movement in a remote area that has gone undetected.”

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After Mexican Theft, Critics Question if IAEA Radiological Security Rules Are Enough

December 6, 2013

National Journal, 12/5/2013

security_fingerprintInternational Atomic Energy Agency officials are considering developing legally binding rules aimed at securing radioactive materials like those stolen in Mexico this week, but nonproliferation advocates argue the effort is likely not enough to prevent incidents involving so-called “dirty bombs.”

The U.N. nuclear agency announced on Wednesday morning that thieves two days earlier had stolen a truck en route to Tijuana. The vehicle had been transporting cobalt-60, a radioactive substance commonly used in cancer treatments and at food-irradiation facilities. The stolen truck and the missing radioactive substances were recovered on Wednesday evening.

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Truck With Radioactive Load Is Recovered in Mexico

December 5, 2013

TruckThe New York Times, 12/4/2013

The theft of a truck carrying radioactive material, the kind used in hospitals but also potentially as a dirty bomb, unnerved Mexico and set off a two-day hunt before both the vehicle and its potentially lethal contents were found Wednesday at nightfall.

The truck had been transporting the material, cobalt 60, from an obsolete radiotherapy machine at a public hospital in Tijuana to a storage repository in central Mexico. It was in a sealed container on the bed of the truck when armed men hijacked it at a gas station on Monday.

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US-Mexico border no barrier to supply chain links

December 4, 2013

Financial Times, 12/2/2013

Photo by Flikr user Rockin RobinIt would be easy looking at the border between San Diego, in the US state of California, and Tijuana, in the Mexican state of Baja California, to conclude that the formidable fence was a barrier to all cross-border interactions. The fence and other defences against unauthorised border crossings have only grown since the September 11 2001 attacks on the United States sharply increased concerns about the US’s border security.

Yet it is a tribute to the power of the North American Free Trade Agreement that companies have continued in the years since 2001 to move goods freely across the heavily policed frontier.

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Medical radioactive material truck ‘stolen in Mexico’

December 4, 2013

BBC News, 12/4/2013

hospitalA truck carrying medical radioactive material has been stolen in Mexico, the UN’s nuclear watchdog says.

Mexico told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the truck was carrying a “dangerous radioactive source” used for cancer treatments when it was stolen on Monday. Mexico’s Nuclear Security Commission said that at the time of the theft, the cobalt-60 teletherapy source was “properly shielded”. But the commission warned it could be “extremely dangerous to a person if removed from the shielding, or if it was damaged”.

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More U.S. companies opening high-tech factories in Mexico

December 2, 2013

The Los Angeles Times, 11/29/2013

Expert TakeFaced with rising wages in China and high shipping costs, many businesses are finding manufacturing close to home more appealing. But despite its advantages, Mexico has problems.

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Mystery surrounds Tijuana border rush

November 27, 2013

San Diego Union Tribune, 11/26/2013

120px-Border_Mexico_USA Video footage, anonymous leaflets, and eyewitness accounts on Tuesday offered some insights into last weekend’s incident that saw more than 100 people rush a heavily patrolled stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border in broad daylight.

But the larger questions remained unanswered: Exactly who instigated the mass action on Sunday afternoon one quarter-mile west of the San Ysidro Port of Entry? And for what purpose?

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U.S. Border Patrol agents attacked by unruly crowd from Mexico

November 27, 2013

The Los Angeles Times, 11/26/2013

United_States_Border_Patrol_MexicoMore than 100 people pelted U.S. Border Patrol agents with rocks and bottles during a rowdy confrontation Sunday afternoon along the U.S.-Mexico border, federal authorities said.

Nobody was seriously injured and it’s not clear whether the crowd was trying to enter the U.S. illegally or hold a demonstration, but the sight of a large crowd surging beyond the border rattled nerves.

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