Headlines from Mexico

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1. Mexico’s Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit announced that it is contemplating using resources from a $15.4 billion public income stabilization fund to pay a portion of Pemex’s debt obligations.

El Economista, El Financiero,  La Jornada,

2. The López Obrador administration announced that the consortiums Bechtel-Techint and Worley Parson-Jacobs, as well as the companies Technip and KBR would participate in the tender process to build an Oil Refinery in Dos Bocas, Tabasco, one of the administration’s flagship projects.

Milenio, El Financiero, Proceso

3. President López Obrador and Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to President Trump, held a closed-door meeting to discuss a development plan that seeks to promote the economic growth of Southern Mexico and Central America. Opposition leaders criticized that the meeting took place in the house of Bernardo Gómez, Vice President of Televisa, Mexico’ largest television network.

La Jornada, Milenio, El Universal,   

4. President López Obrador signed a pledge not to run for re-election at the end of his term in 2024, affirming that one six-year term is enough to “eradicate corruption and impunity.” This occurred after the Chamber of Deputies approved a constitutional amendment that allows for referendum on the President’s performance midway through the six-year term.

Forbes, La Jornada, El Economista,  

5. Mexico’s Secretariat of the Interior formally apologized to the families of two university students from the Tecnológico de Monterrey, who were shot to death by soldiers in 2010, and promised to take the necessary measures to avert similar killings in the future.

Excélsior, Milenio, El Heraldo de México

U.S. immigration arrests fall under Trump as resources shift to the border

3/22/2019 – Reuters

By Mica Rosenberg

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REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

(Reuters) – U.S. immigration arrests fell under President Donald Trump at the end of 2018 compared to the same period a year earlier, a drop authorities attributed to a growing need to deal with “alarming rates” of migrant families at the border.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said on Thursday that enforcement resources were stretched thin in the interior of the country as agents deal with an overflow of Central Americans seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Immigration authorities said the agency arrested 34,546 people living in the country illegally in October through December of last year – the first quarter of the 2019 fiscal year. That was a 12 percent drop from the 39,328 people arrested during the same period a year earlier.

“Our interior arrests have been affected because I have had to redirect” resources to address the “alarming rate” of arrivals at the border, said Nathalie Asher, executive associate director of ICE’s enforcement and removal operations, on a conference call with reporters.

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Leftist AMLO and Billionaire Hit It Off Over Love of Baseball

3/22/2019 – Bloomberg

20-02-2019-FOTO-14-SALON-DE-LA-FAMA-DEL-BEISBOL-MEXICANO-MTY-NL-1024x683.jpgBy Eric Martin

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador often calls business elites a corrupt mafia, but when it comes to promoting his favorite sport, he’s willing to play ball.

AMLO, as the leftist is known, on Saturday plans to adopt the century-old American tradition of throwing out the first pitch for a baseball game, helping inaugurate a 3.9 billion-peso ($207 million) stadium for Mexico City’s Diablos Rojos, or Red Devils. The Diablos, who will play an exhibition against San Diego Padres prospects, are owned by billionaire Alfredo Harp Helu. The former owner of Citigroup Inc.’s Mexico unit also holds a stake in the Padres

Lopez Obrador, who took office in December, has been a passionate fan since his small-town childhood. He fondly recalls playing center field, using a homemade ball and bat and listening to radio broadcasts of American games in Spanish. While he has rarely traveled outside Mexico, he made an exception for the 2016 All-Star Game in San Diego, taking his youngest son and snapping a photo with David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox.

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An uneasy tomato truce between Florida and Mexico is coming to a bitter end

3/22/2019 – The Washington Post

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(Daniel Becerril/Reuters)

By Laura Reiley

Florida tomato growers have no shortage of challenges these days. Development is encroaching on the best farmland. There are issues of climate change and access to fresh water; pest problems and soil problems; heat and humidity; and the threat of hurricanes. Labor costs are high.

But, according to growers, the biggest challenge isn’t in Florida at all.

It’s what the Florida Tomato Exchange, a trade organization, alleges is an effort by Mexican growers to dump artificially low-priced tomatoes on the American market. That, they claim, is undermining American farms.

The exchange will make the case in front of the U.S. Trade Commission on Thursday, arguing that the Department of Commerce should terminate a 22-year-old agreement that had attempted to maintain the peace between Florida and Mexican tomato growers.

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Cradling children, migrant families cross border in waves

3/22/2019 – The Washington Post

MCALLEN, Texas — A mother cradled a crying toddler as she waited in line with 20 other women to shower. Dozens of fathers quietly held their children’s hands in an enclosure made of chain-link fencing.

While these families were held at an overcrowded Border Patrol processing center, a fresh wave of migrants crossed the nearby river separating the U.S. and Mexico and waited for border agents to bring them to the same facility. One Honduran woman carried a feverish 7-month-old baby.

The cycle is repeated multiple times a day. Waves of desperate families are trying to cross the border almost hourly and entering an overtaxed government detention system.

The Border Patrol has become so overwhelmed in feeding and caring for the migrants that it announced plans this week to start releasing some families onto the street in the Rio Grande Valley to ease overcrowding in the processing center, providing the immigrants with a notice to appear at an upcoming court date.

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Mexico Could Pay Pemex Debt From $15 Billion Stabilization Fund

3/22/2019 – The New York Times

oil-monahans-texas-sunset-70362.jpegACAPULCO, Mexico — Mexico’s deputy finance minister said on Thursday the government was considering using part of a $15.4 billion public income stabilization fund to pay some debt obligations for heavily leveraged state oil company Pemex.

The finance ministry is working on a new design for the fund to make it counter cyclical, deputy minister Arturo Herrera said in an interview with TV network ADN40, during a banking conference in Acapulco.

Grappling with Pemex’s financial health has been a key challenge for President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office in December. The entity holds roughly $106 billion in financial debt, the highest amount of any state oil firm in Latin America.

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AMLO Risks His Own Fall as He Tries to Pull Pemex Back From the Brink

3/21/2019 – Bloomberg Politics

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By Eric Martin and Justin Villamil

Pemex is personal for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who grew up in Mexico’s oil heartland at a time when the state company was a source of national pride.

Now that he’s president, the leftist leader has made it a priority to pull Pemex out of a two-decade slump. Investors are worried that the opposite could happen, with the company dragging Lopez Obrador down instead, and the economy with him.

Petroleos Mexicanos, the company’s full name, is already the world’s most indebted oil major, owing about $108 billion. AMLO needs to cut that debt, while boosting investment and output. His solution? Slashing taxes on the company that has been a cash cow for the state for decades. The market concern is that he will fail to restore Pemex to profitability (it’s been in the red since 2012), while opening a black hole in the government budget.

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