Mexico’s ruling party battles leftist nemesis in key state vote

5/24/2017 Reuters

voting mexicoNine decades of rule by President Enrique Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in Mexico’s most populous state are hanging in the balance in an election that could batter its hopes of keeping power nationally in 2018.

Polls show the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), the new party of veteran leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, could wrest control of the state of Mexico from the PRI by winning the governorship in the June 4 state election, a result that would ramp up the momentum for his bid to succeed Pena Nieto in 2018.

Headstrong and with more nationalist leanings than the centrist PRI, two-time presidential runner-up Lopez Obrador has led early opinion polls for next year’s contest.

Financial markets are closely watching Lopez Obrador’s progress. If he does win in 2018, it could stoke tensions with the United States after President Donald Trump’s populist broadsides against Mexico during his own election campaign.

Read more…

Mexican mob attacks Russian man in Cancun over insults

5/20/2017 Reuters

CancunA mob of angry Mexicans attacked a Russian man in the Caribbean resort of Cancun with sticks and rocks over his repeated insults against locals, and the 42-year-old man was accused of fatally stabbing a youth in the melee, authorities said on Saturday.

Police rescued the Russian, identified as Aleksei Makeev, after the crowd stormed his apartment on Friday night, said Guillermo Brahms, secretary general of Benito Juarez municipality, which encompasses Cancun.

Blurry footage of the attack circulated widely on Mexican media on Saturday. In one clip, assailants can be heard shouting “You’re going to die” and “I’m going to cut your head off” as they closed in on the Russian.

The incident began when a group of people confronted Makeev over his disparaging comments toward locals, many of which he videotaped and posted online.

Makeev stabbed a youth who got into his apartment, prompting the mob to grow and the violence to escalate, Brahms said.

Read more…

Mexican journalists mourn, protest after deadly day

5/17/2017 Reuters

hands holding candleMexican journalists covered news conferences wearing black on Tuesday, and brought pictures of slain colleagues to rallies to put pressure on authorities to act against an escalation of murderous attacks on their trade.

The mourning and protests followed a particularly deadly day for the media in Mexico, where warring drug cartels have made it one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist.

On Monday, veteran organized crime writer Javier Valdez was shot dead by unidentified assailants in the northwestern state of Sinaloa while gunmen in Jalisco state killed a reporter at a small weekly magazine and critically wounded his mother, an executive at the family-run publication.

Authorities have yet to announce arrests in the two new cases, feeding fears of impunity that have become disturbingly familiar to the profession in Mexico.

“We’ve been living in a giant simulation; they say they’re investigating and that freedom of expression is protected, but clearly it’s not,” Juan Carlos Aguilar of the collective Right to Inform said at a protest in Mexico City.

Read more…

Mexican consumers defy Trump with spending jump, retailers say

5/10/2017 Reuters

woman shopping for water in big box storeMexican retail sales grew in April at the fastest clip since Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president, industry data showed on Wednesday, as consumer demand rose despite high inflation, rising interest rates and economic headwinds.

Mexican retailers’ association ANTAD said sales at stores open at least a year rose 6.0 percent from April last year, the biggest jump since October 2016.

Trump’s surprise election in November raised the specter of recession in Mexico after his threats on the campaign trail to shred the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a lynchpin of Latin America’s second-largest economy.

ANTAD members include Wal-Mart de Mexico WALMEXV.MX, or Walmex, and Soriana (SORIANAB.MX). Total sales, which include stores opened during the last 12 months, grew 9.1 percent from April 2016, the group said.

Read more…

Mexico decides Trump isn’t so fierce after all

5/9/2017 Los Angeles Times

17028185388_8b61cf9e1f_kThe worst may be over — though it’s not quite time to celebrate.

That seems to be the guarded consensus here more than three months into the administration of President Trump, whose targeting of Mexico and Mexicans yielded profound economic, social and political disquiet throughout the country.

Not long ago, many feared Trump’s agenda could edge the nation toward economic ruin and even rip asunder the fabric of Mexican society. Trump appeared to have gotten into the collective Mexican psyche like no other U.S. leader in decades.

But the doomsday scenarios have receded as Trump has backed away from his signature threats against Mexico on trade and immigration policy.

Read more…

Mexican-Americans Torn About Cinco De Mayo in Trump Era

5/4/2017 New York Times

mexican-flag1For years, Yazmin Irazoqui Ruiz saw Cinco de Mayo as a reason to eat tacos and listen to Mexican music.

The 25-year-old Mexican-born medical student left Mexico for the U.S. as a child and celebrates the day to honor a homeland she hardly remembers.

But the Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident said she’s reluctant to take part in Cinco de Mayo festivities this year as President Donald Trump steps up federal immigration enforcement and supporters back his call for the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I mean, what is it about? You want to eat our food and listen to our music, but when we need you to defend us, where are you?” Irazoqui Ruiz asked about the wave of anti-immigrant sentiment in the country.

Read more…

How Mexico’s Unions Sell Out Autoworkers

5/5/2017 Bloomberg

ensamblajeAt a ceremony at Mexico’s Los Pinos presidential residence in July 2014, BMW Chief Executive Officer Harald Krüger pledged to spend $1 billion to build a factory in the northern state of San Luis Potosí that will employ 1,500 workers. To mark the occasion, he presented President Enrique Peña Nieto with a model of a silver BMW race car.

The German automaker had unwrapped its own gift two days earlier, a labor contract signed by a representative from the state chapter of the Confederación de Trabajadores de México (CTM), the country’s largest union confederation, and notarized by a Labor Ministry official. The document, which Bloomberg reviewed, sets a starting wage of about $1.10 per hour and a top wage of $2.53 for assembly-line workers. The starting rate is only a bit more than half the $2.04 an hour that is the average at Mexican auto plants, says Alex Covarrubias, a lecturer at the University of Sonora in Hermosillo.

The paperwork was filed two years before BMW broke ground on the new plant, which will turn out $45,000 3 Series sedans. When workers begin to stream into the factory sometime next year, there’s a good chance most won’t know they belong to a union.

Read more…