PepsiCo, Coca-Cola still sparkle in Mexico after fizzy drinks tax

07/07/16 CNBC

Coca Cola BottlesFlat beverages are helping overall sales at Coca-Cola Co and PepsiCo Inc stay fizzy in Mexico despite a tax on sodas.

As Mexico moved toward implementing a soda tax to combat soaring rates of obesity and diabetes three years ago, the beverage industry fought back hard, warning that sales in the world’s No. 2 consumer of sugary drinks could take a hit.

But more than two years later, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have found ways to prosper in Mexico thanks to alternative beverages and resilient demand, a Reuters review of corporate filings and executive comments shows.

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Study: Mexico’s Junk-Food Tax Cut Purchases by 5.1 Percent

07/05/2016 The New York Times

chatarraMEXICO CITY — Mexico’s 8 percent tax on high-calorie snacks has been successful in reducing junk food purchases, but only by a small amount and only among poor and middle-class households, a study said Tuesday.

The report published in the online journal PLOS-Medicine showed an average reduction of 5.1 percent in purchases of items subject to the tax, which was implemented in 2014. The reduction equaled only about 25 grams (0.88 ounces) per month per person.

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How capturing rain could save Mexico City from a water crisis

07/06/16 The Guardian 

RainWaterAs is common in our world, those in Mexico with the least resources suffer the most. Low income and informal neighbourhoods have the least access to safe water, exposing them to high health risks, such as diarrhoea and parasitic and bacterial diseases. Many of them depend on pipas, or water trucks, which aren’t always reliable. The average Mexican family can spend up to 20% of its income on water.

More than 10 million Mexicans lack access to safe water and its capital, Mexico City, is ranked third on the list of cities facing an extreme water crisis. But this is not because of natural water scarcity. In fact, Mexico City receives roughly five months of rain a year and is notorious for flooding.

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Hundreds rescued from drug rehab center in western Mexico

5/19/16 CNN

Jalisco_in_Mexico_(location_map_scheme).svg(CNN)Hundreds of children, women and men who had been living at an overcrowded drug rehabilitation shelter in western Mexico were rescued in a police operation carried out Tuesday night, according to authorities.

Police found 271 people at the shelter, called “Spiritual Awakening, Alcoholics and Drug Addicts of the West,” in the city of Tonalá in the western state of Jalisco. The alleged victims were living in what authorities described as “inhumane conditions.” Police found 68 women, 91 men and 112 minors crammed into the facility.
“We’re still in the process of completing the operation. We found very serious conditions of overcrowding. We also found that people were being fed in a subhuman and inappropriate way,” Jalisco State’s Attorney Jesús Eduardo Almaguer said in a statement.
Almaguer said his office was alerted to the problem after a complaint from a woman who says she was beaten and kept from leaving the facility until she paid 1,500 Mexican pesos (U.S. $81.83) after she went there to visit a patient.

How corruption is hurting Mexico City’s efforts to tackle air pollution

5/5/2016 The Conversation 

AerialViewPhotochemicalSmogMexicoCity_2On March 15 this year, Mexico City encountered its worst environmental crisis of the last decade. A gray fog, comprising noxious air pollutants, cast a shadow over the sprawling metropolitan area for two days. Vehicles were ordered off the roads, and people were asked to remain indoors.

The solution sought to redress the city’s pollution problem was presented two weeks later and has already attracted considerable attention from the international media. Martín Gutiérrez, head of Mexico City’s environmental agency Comisión Ambiental de la Megalópolis, announced that the city’s residents who own private cars are going back to a program first instituted in 1989 called Hoy No Circula(One Day without a Car). The restrictions on vehicle mobility mean that all privately owned vehicles will be off the roads once a week and on one Saturday a month, from April 5 to June 30.

The government had previously abandoned the program due to its proven inefficiency, and, among the city’s residents, the readoption of Hoy No Circula has been viewed as an unpopular approach to manage Mexico City’s undeniable environmental issues.

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Mexico proposes raising limit on marijuana for personal use

4/22/16 CBS news

marijuanaMEXICO CITY — Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Thursday he will ask Congress to raise the limit on decriminalized marijuana for personal use to 28 grams, or about one ounce.

Previously, only possession of five grams, or less than a fifth of an ounce, were exempted from prosecution.

“This means that consumption would no longer be criminalized,” Pena Nieto said. Possession of larger amounts would be punishable under drug trafficking laws.

“We Mexicans know all too well the range and the defects of prohibitionist and punitive policies, and of the so-called war on drugs that has prevailed for 40 years,” Pena Nieto said. “Our country has suffered, as few have, the ill effects of organized crime tied to drug trafficking.”

“Fortunately, a new consensus is gradually emerging worldwide in favor of reforming drug policies,” he said. “A growing number of countries are strenuously combating criminals, but instead of criminalizing consumers, they offer them alternatives and opportunities.”

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U.S.-Mexico Teamwork Where the Rio Grande Is but a Ribbon

4/22/16 New York Times

Rio_grandeBIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, Tex. — There are places in the desert canyons of far West Texas where the border between the United States and Mexico amounts to an olive-green ribbon of water, so shallow that canoes scrape to a halt on the rocks. Here the Rio Grande — the border that has separated the two countries since 1848, with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo — narrows to a pinch. At times it is as wide as a school bus is long. At other times it is not even that wide. An owl can make the crossing with one or two flaps of its wings.

In these remote places in Big Bend National Park, the Rio Grande seems void of any power to divide. There are no boundary lines, no signs, no walls, no border agents on either side. To journey here to the vast, empty canyons of West Texas is to watch the border itself all but vanish as a physical and political space, an extraordinary feat in these times when the notion of the border often seems more a political construct than a geographic one.

Consider Los Diablos and the cane burns of the Rio Grande that played out this month. Los Diablos are a team of Mexican firefighters who are part of a group of Mexicans and Americans including firefighters, conservationists and park rangers. They travel along the most desolate stretches of the river not to put out fires, but to set them in a controlled burn meticulously planned to kill giant cane, a tall bamboo-style invasive grass that grows in dense patches on both sides of the river. The cane chokes and helps narrow the flow of the Rio Grande, which contributes to the frequency of flooding and to the burying of habitats for native plants and fish.

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