King invites Mexico to use “vast potential” of relations with Spain

June 30, 2015

06/30/15 Fox News Latino

spain mexicoKing Felipe invited Mexico on Monday to take advantage of “the vitality and vast potential” of its relations with Spain, in order to strengthen ties that go beyond the spheres of politics and trade.

Felipe VI delivered that message to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on the first day of his state visit to Mexico, together with Queen Letizia.

Peña Nieto, accompanied by first lady Angelica Rivera, welcomed them at a very solemn event.

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Mexico Media Round-Up: Another Violent Month

June 30, 2015

06/60/15 Forbes

crime and drugsDuring June, 2015 Mexico’s went to the polls for mid-term elections and also witnessed a number of grisly organized crime related attacks. In May 2015 Mexico saw a month on month increase in murders for the first time in over three years, a sign that president Enrique Peña Nieto’s security strategy may not be working as smoothly as expected.

On June 1 I tweeted this article I wrote for Americas Quarterly. In the article I explain, that as organized crime groups have threatened and killed political candidates and radical protest groups promised to disrupt the election, the southwestern state of Guerrero presented unique challenges for Mexico’s June 7 mid-term election. “Security problems are certainly not isolated to Guerrero, but Guerrero does present a unique profile of challenges. The state is home to a mix of drug trafficking groups, their offshoots and affiliated street gangs, as well as militant teachers groups and armed leftist guerrilla groups,” I explained.

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Mexico’s Justice System At A Crossroads

June 29, 2015

06/29/15 Forbes

Aflag StarrGazrs an emerging market, Mexico has tremendous appeal. Its huge volume of trade with the United States, combined recent reforms in the telecommunications and energy sectors, means opportunities abound for savvy investors. But severe challenges remain. Pervasive corruption adds layers of risk to any business venture. Corruption has also hamstrung the nation’s justice system—and which many observers blame for Mexico’s intractable security challenges.

To date, reform efforts have languished. A series of constitutional and legislative reforms passed in 2008 sought to overhaul the justice system and root out corruption, but they have yet to be fully implemented. The 2008 reforms set a 2016 deadline for defining new criminal procedures and new duties for law enforcement and public agencies. Last year the government cleared an important hurdle with the passage of a unified criminal code, but much more work remains. With little less than a year to go, the fate of justice reform in Mexico appears quite uncertain.

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Water Scarcity Could Deter Energy Developers From Crossing Border Into Northern Mexico

June 26, 2015

Day 3 of our on-going article excerpts. Check out the blog again on Monday for more, or head straight to our website for the remainder of the article.

Water Scarcity Could Deter Energy Developers From Crossing Border Into Northern Mexico

by Keith Schneider

Coahuila Says It’s Ready

Whether the shale gas fields of Coahuila and its neighboring states are included in the offering, though, is not certain. The national government has expressed concern about low gas and oil prices, and about security. Northern Mexico is the base of operations of “Los Zetas,” the most technologically advanced, sophisticated, and dangerous Mexican gang, which has infiltrated the state’s coal sector and terrorized several energy exploration teams.

The Governor of Coahuila, Rubén Moreira Valdéz, among the industry’s biggest boosters, is not intimidated. Moreira is pressing the national government to open bidding for development rights in his state to keep a promising oil industry job boom going. Earlier this year, during a shale development conference in Mexico City, Governor Moreira told attendees that “the economic development of shale oil and gas, and related investments, has generated more than 800 shale gas and shale oil jobs” in Coahuila.

The Duñas de Yeso are unique in Mexico and are often compared to the White Sands national monument in New Mexico. The dunes were formed over thousands of years by sand grains moved by the wind from deposits left on the banks of the Laguna Churince during its periodic ebb and flow. Since surface water on the lake has disappeared completely in the past few years, conservationists fear that this process has now been interrupted, with unpredictable consequences for this natural wonder and its unique bio system.

The Duñas de Yeso are unique in Mexico and are often compared to the White Sands national monument in New Mexico. The dunes were formed over thousands of years by sand grains moved by the wind from deposits left on the banks of the Laguna Churince during its periodic ebb and flow. Since surface water on the lake has disappeared completely in the past few years, conservationists fear that this process has now been interrupted, with unpredictable consequences for this natural wonder and its unique bio system.

 

Executives of Pemex, Mexico’s national oil company, join administrators in Mexico’s Ministry of Energy in projecting much larger returns. Two years ago the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated that northern Mexico reserves held 13 billion barrels of shale oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, ranking the region as one of most potentially productive shale energy zones on the planet.

Pemex anticipates that the oil and gas producing basins of Coahuila and neighboring Nuevo Leon could attract over $US 100 billion in investment to drill 8,000 to 10,000 oil and gas wells. Coahuila state authorities added that they expected $US 64 billion of that total to be invested in their state, and that 240,000 jobs would result. Earlier this year a report by the University of Texas at San Antonio, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Asociacion de Empresarios Mexicanos, and the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute was similarly enthusiastic. The report asserted that Mexico is in an ideal situation to reap the benefits of unconventional extraction techniques.

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Mexico’s Extreme Inequality: 1% Owns Half of Country’s Wealth

June 26, 2015

6/25/15 teleSUR

Photo by Flickr user Aleiex

Photo by Flickr user Aleiex

Extreme inequality has increased in Mexico while the economy has stagnated, concentrating almost half of the country’s wealth in the hands of its elite 1 percent, according to a new Oxfam report. According to the report, the wealth of the Mexico’s 16 billionaires multiplies five fold each year, while the country’s GDP increases by less than 1 percent annually. Mexico is among the top 14 richest countries in the world by GDP, yet over half its population, or 53 million people, live in poverty.

The report states that one of the most serious aspects of inequality is unbalanced income distribution, which is becoming more pronounced. Mexico’s telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim is the second richest person in the world. His estimated 5 percent return on wealth alone could cover the cost of some 2 million low wage workers at the minimum wage rate of US$4.50 per day. The wealth of Slim and just three fellow Mexican billionaires account for 9 percent of the country’s GDP, equivalent to the income of nearly 20 million Mexicans on the other side of the inequality equation.

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Cuba, Mexico Talk on Immigration Issues

June 26, 2015

6/24/15 Prensa Latina

cubaMexico and Cuba held here the Tenth Meeting of the Working Group on Immigration and Consular Affairs, a note from the Cuban embassy in this capital reported today here.

During the meeting, the behavior of the migratory flow between the two countries was analyzed, and an assessment of the implementation of the migration agreement between the parties was carried out.

The negotiations to update the memorandum signed in 2008, as of the existing new immigration regulations in both countries, also concluded.

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Water Scarcity Could Deter Energy Developers From Crossing Border Into Northern Mexico (Part 2/8)

June 25, 2015

Day 2 of our on-going article excerpts. Stay tuned for more!

Water Scarcity Could Deter Energy Developers From Crossing Border Into Northern Mexico 

by Keith Schneider

A Confrontation in Approaches

Such issues anchor the momentous and era-changing choices that the desert Mexican state of nearly 3 million residents faces. In large measure shale oil and gas drilling is a 20th century construct, a readily recognizable strategy to mass potentially enormous energy resources, intensive industrial infrastructure, and huge sums of financial capital to achieve heightened economic development. In short, drilling a lot of oil and gas wells, and building a transport and processing infrastructure, is a familiar formula for growth.

But is the plan for mammoth oil and gas development potentially reckless? How much of what’s envisioned in Coahuila is really possible in the challenging demographic, resource-scarce, and drying conditions of the 21st century? In other words, Coahuila closely resembles southern Mongolia, northern China, the American West, Australia, and southern Africa, where growing cities, agriculture, and energy development fiercely compete for resources, especially diminishing supplies of fresh water.

Giant sprinkler machines called ‘Pivote Central’ bring water to alfalfa fields in the Valle Hundido near Cuatro Cienegas. The wheels pivot around a center, connected to a well that supplies its water. The level of the aquifer that feeds these fields has dropped so much in the past decade that the surface water on the nearby lake Laguna Churince has completely disappeared. Residents are unsure which companies are behind the large alfalfa fields, but they speculate that they are related to large dairy farms near Torreón that use the alfalfa to feed their livestock. Officials estimate that there are more than 30 of these pivotes in the area.

Giant sprinkler machines called ‘Pivote Central’ bring water to alfalfa fields in the Valle Hundido near Cuatro Cienegas. The wheels pivot around a center, connected to a well that supplies its water. The level of the aquifer that feeds these fields has dropped so much in the past decade that the surface water on the nearby lake Laguna Churince has completely disappeared. Residents are unsure which companies are behind the large alfalfa fields, but they speculate that they are related to large dairy farms near Torreón that use the alfalfa to feed their livestock. Officials estimate that there are more than 30 of these pivotes in the area.

The confrontation is so fraught with ecological urgency and climatic change that decades of entrenched regional economic policy and resource practices are shifting. Australia rewrote its water use statutes and spent billions of dollars to rebuild its irrigation network in the Murray-Darling Basin following a vicious 12-year drought. China shifted its major grain producing region to the wet Northeast and launched the world’s largest solar and wind energy sector to reduce water consumption in the drying Yellow River Basin. In the United States, a four-year drought prompted California to issue the first mandatory water restrictions in its history. The state also is much more closely overseeing water use and wastewater disposal in its oil industry, the nation’s third largest.

For the time being, the mega energy development paradigm prevails in Coahuila. Sometime later this year, or early in 2016, oil and gas companies could provide more insight into what they think is possible in the desert when Mexico opens bidding for oil and gas development rights to foreign companies. The new market is due to a change in Mexico’s Constitution in 2013, and new regulations in 2014, that made foreign investment possible in the country’s oil and gas sector.

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