Headlines from Mexico

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  1. During the first round of NAFTA renegotiations this week in Washington DC, the US emphasized its desire to strengthen the rules of origin and include a substantial US content requirement for duty-free goods. These proposals are seen as part of the United States’ controversial insistence that reducing trade deficits be a major part of NAFTA modernization in an effort to revitalize US manufacturing. The Mexican minister of economy, Ildefonso Guajardo, stated that addressing trade deficits was not an appropriate economic objective, while reiterating he had a positive outlook regarding the ultimate outcome of the negotiations.  On Wednesday, there were marches in Mexico City in protest of NAFTA, with critics asserting it puts the interests of private companies ahead of workers’ rights.

Read more: El Economista, La Jornada, El Financiero, El Universal, Expansión, Reforma

  1. The former CEO of Pemex, Emilio Lozoya, denied charges that he hid bribe money from the construction firm, Odebracht SA, in the campaign fund of President Peña Nieto. He has stated that the bank accounts where the money was allegedly deposited were not his. The President’s office has also denied that any cash from Odebracht ended up in the campaign.

Read more: La Jornada, Milenio, Excelsior, El Universal, Animal Politico

  1. The mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Ángel Mancera Espinosa, announced his intention to step down from his post following his fifth report in September. As a member of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, he has stated he will decide shortly afterwards whether he will pursue the Mexican presidency the following year.

Read more: La Jornada, Milenio, Excelsior, El Financiero

  1. The former governor of Veracruz, Javier Duarte, who was extradited from Guatemala to Mexico on graft charges, will embark on a hunger strike to protest what he calls political persecution against him and former colleagues. This according to a letter that was read aloud on television on Thursday.  The Mexican Interior Ministry and Mexico City’s prisons department have provided no comment.

Read more: La Jornada, Milenio, El Financiero, El Universal

  1. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) approved of statute changes last Saturday to make it easier for party outsiders to run for office. Party member César Cavazos stated the reforms will also increase the number of younger candidates for offices, while stating 30 percent of all candidacies should belong to people below the age of 35.

Read more: El Economista, Milenio, El Universal

 

Water authority to fund conservation work in Mexico

8/18/2017 Las Vegas Review-Journal 

The Southern Nevada Water Authority plans to spend up to $7.5 million in Mexico over the next 10 years in exchange for more Colorado River water.

Authority board members unanimously approved the payments Thursday as they gave their blessing to a sweeping water-sharing agreement the U.S. and Mexico are expected to sign next month.

The new pact, known as Minute 323 to the Mexican Water Treaty of 1944, spells out how much Mexico would have to reduce its river use during a shortage on the Colorado and how much extra water the nation would get in a surplus.

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As Mexico debates giving the military more power, a judge asks why soldiers gunned down 22 people

8/17/2017 Los Angeles Times 

As Mexican lawmakers debate expanding the role of the military in the country’s drug war, a judge has ordered a new probe into whether army commanders ordered soldiers to shoot 22 people in a 2014 incident described by human rights advocates as an extrajudicial massacre.

The federal judge, whose July 31 ruling became public this week, said the federal attorney general’s office failed to fully investigate a military order issued before the killing that instructed soldiers to “shoot down criminals in hours of darkness.”

Initially, the army described the shooting deaths at a warehouse in Tlatlaya, about 100 miles southwest of Mexico City, as the result of a fierce gun battle with an armed gang. But news reports and the testimony of survivors later suggested that the army had executed at least a dozen people at point blank range, including several who had already surrendered to an army patrol or who lay wounded.

Read more… 

What you need to know about NAFTA as it goes through a quarter-life crisis

8/18/2017 The Washington Post

Clinton signing NAFTA

NAFTA: The trade pact has stirred debate and controversy for more than two decades.

President Trump used the North American Free Trade Agreement as a lightning rod during his election campaign last year. At his rallies, Trump called the trade pact — which eliminated almost all tariffs and other trade barriers between the United States, Mexico and Canada — a disaster, the worst trade deal in U.S. history. NAFTA, he said, had spurred the decline in the U.S. manufacturing industry and encouraged a wave of illegal immigration from Mexico. As president, he came ever so close to terminating the agreement in April.

Yet while NAFTA looms large in political rhetoric, most Americans probably couldn’t tell you who wrote the pact and why, what’s at stake in its renegotiation and how profoundly it has already influenced their lives.

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The North American Free-Trade Agreement renegotiation begins via @TheEconomist

8/17/2017 The Economist 

THE North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a 23-year-old trade deal between America, Mexico and Canada, is being revamped. On August 16th, after months of threats, taunts and tweets, the first round of talks started in Washington. The negotiators face a daunting challenge, straddling domestic and foreign policy. They must please their political masters while grappling with devilishly detailed policy problems. If they fail, it will not be for lack of experience. The professionals are in the room.

This negotiation will be more tense than most. Participation in trade talks is usually by mutual consent. In this one, President Donald Trump is trying to hold his trade partners hostage, by threatening to withdraw from the original deal if a better one cannot be agreed on. That such an outcome would also hurt America does not make the exercise any easier.

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Canada and Mexico play defence on Nafta’s future

8/18/2017 Financial Times 

There are many areas — tax cuts, infrastructure spending, healthcare — in which Donald Trump’s grandiose plans have come to nothing. Thus far, the same is true of one of the US president’s foremost obsessions, trade — and specifically, attempting to redress the US deficit with individual countries by changing the rules of trade. Mr Trump has failed to carry out threats to put currency tariffs on China, or to punish US companies that have created jobs overseas. And having made a great song and dance about taking on Beijing, this week’s vaunted announcement about China’s intellectual property violations turned out to be an investigation that is likely to stretch well into next year.

Read more… 

Jailed former Mexican governor starts hunger strike over ‘witch hunt’

08/17/2017 Reuters

DuarteMEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Former Mexican governor Javier Duarte, in jail awaiting trial on graft charges, has embarked on a hunger strike to protest the “witch hunt” against him, according to a letter he wrote that was published by local TV on Thursday.

Javier Duarte, who until last year governed the Gulf coast state of Veracruz for President Enrique Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), is suspected of siphoning off millions of dollars during his tenure.

Duarte, who was extradited last month from Guatemala where he had fled to, has denied any wrongdoing.

Read more…