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

US immigration agents find ways around ‘sanctuary’ policies

3/14/2019 – The Washington Post

By Astrid Galvan

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(Russell Contreras/Associated Press)

PHOENIX — Two years after New Mexico’s largest county barred local law enforcement from cooperating with immigration authorities, its leaders learned that the policy was being subverted from within.

Staff members at the Bernalillo County jail in Albuquerque were still granting immigration authorities access to its database and, in some cases, tipping them off when a person of interest was being released.

“I was surprised and horrified,” said Maggie Hart Stebbins, chairwoman of the Bernalillo County Commission. “Individual employees do not have the freedom to pick and choose what they want to observe.”

The disclosure last month cast a spotlight on an often-overlooked way in which immigration officials around the U.S. may be getting around local “sanctuary” policies — through informal relationships with police and others willing to cooperate when they’re not supposed to. Immigration activists say they have seen it places like Philadelphia, Chicago and several communities in California, which has a statewide sanctuary law.

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Mexico Approves 60,000-Strong National Guard. Critics Call It More of the Same.

3/1/2019 – The New York Times

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Mario Guzman/EPA, via Shutterstock

By Kirk Semple and Paulina Villegas

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Congress on Thursday approved the creation of a 60,000-member National Guard to tackle the nation’s public security crisis, a force that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made a cornerstone of his plan to confront organized crime and curb soaring violence.

The vote capped months of legislative wrangling over the nature of the force and who would control it, with human-rights activists and civil society groups lobbying fiercely to limit the military’s influence on it and warning it could represent the further militarization of policing in Mexico.

In the end, Congress decided the National Guard would have an explicitly civilian, rather than military, character, with the new force lodged under the authority of the civilian Ministry of Security and Citizen Protection.

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Banks Fret in Cozy Market Where Bounced Check Eats Two Days’ Pay

2/27/2019 – Bloomberg

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Lujan Agusti/Bloomberg

“Mama, why did they take my money?’’

Tatiana Clouthier had put the peso equivalent of about $80 in a savings account for her daughter Maria a few months earlier. Then a statement arrived showing the new balance: zero. She recalls answering her ten-year-old’s plaintive question as best she could: “Because they charged you fees for I don’t even know what.’’

Mexican banks might have upset the wrong mother. Almost a decade later, Clouthier is among the most powerful lawmakers in President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s party. And she’s backing a campaign that’s spread jitters through financial markets, to make the banks charge less.

High fees are a problem for Mexico’s economy, as well as for individual customers. Because their flip-side is an unusually low level of lending to households and businesses -– the kind that finances growth.

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Cuaron’s ‘Roma’ gives Mexico 1st foreign language film Oscar

2/25/2019 – The Washington Post

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(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

LOS ANGELES — “Roma,” the touching black-and-white portrait of a domestic worker and the middle-class family she cares for in 1970s Mexico City, won the Oscar for best foreign language film Sunday, giving Mexico its long-sought first win in that category.

Director Alfonso Cuaron’s deeply personal film with dialogue in Spanish and Mixtec beat four other contenders that also told the stories of individuals and families facing tumultuous social and historical times. The Netflix-produced film ended the night with Oscars for Cuaron for best director and best cinematography.

“This award belongs to Mexico. It’s a Mexican film in every single front,” he told reporters after the ceremony. “It’s not that 95 percent of the crew was a Mexican crew, and the cast is 100 percent Mexican, but the thematic, the country, the landscape, everything is Mexico. This film doesn’t exist if it’s not for Mexico. I could not be here if it was not because of Mexico.”

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UPDATE 1-Mexico’s Televisa reports sharply lower fourth-quarter profit

2/22/2019 – Reuters

broadcast-broadcasting-camcorder-66134.jpgMEXICO CITY, Feb 21 (Reuters) – Mexican broadcaster Televisa reported on Thursday that its fourth-quarter net profit fell about 84 percent from the year-earlier quarter, hampered by weaker advertising revenue and a loss for its secondary businesses.

Grupo Televisa, Mexico’s largest broadcaster, posted net profit for the quarter ended Dec. 31 of 56.6 million pesos ($2.9 million), down from 343 million pesos a year before.

Net sales climbed slightly to 26.7 billion pesos ($1.36 billion) from 26 billion pesos in the prior-year period.

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Mexico pushes mobile payments to help unbanked consumers ditch cash

MEXICO CITY/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Mexico’s new leftist government is betting on financial technology to help lift people out of poverty.

The administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador recently announced measures aimed at making financial services more affordable in a nation where more than half the population is unbanked.

It is planning a digital payments system run and built by the central bank that will allow Mexicans to make and receive payments through their smartphones free of charge. A pilot roll-out for the platform, known as CoDi, is expected by March.