By RICARDO CASTILLO
AMLO-Trump: The Art of the Deal
The smoke screen left behind on Thursday, Dec 5, by the noisy visit of U.S. Attorney General William Barr cleared rapidly over the next three days as U.S. President Donald Trump and his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) practiced both the art of the deal and quid pro quo political exchanges.
The conspicuous silence Washington had kept over the political asylum granted to now-former Bolivian President Evo Morales last Nov. 13 was seemingly broken in the AMLO-Barr meet. Definitely, Evo’s presence in Mexico was discomforting for the United States – and Trump – as Morales held many interviews in which he said that the power behind the coup d’état that toppled him was none other than the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia. He repeated this on a daily bases throughout his stay in Mexico.
AMLO granted Morales political asylum not for political reasons, but out of an act of humanity because AMLO believed that when Morales fled and if he was not rescued, he’d be killed.
On Friday, Dec. 6, a day after the AMLO-Barr encounter, two things happened: Trump called off his threat to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorists and, out of the blue, Morales needed hospitalization and was almost silently flown to Cuba on a commercial flight, AMLO’s style.
Evo’s eviction – pardon me, hospitalization in Cuba — was a pretty good quid pro quo since that same day Trump tweeted the news to his followers, saying that “at the request of a man who I like and respect, and has worked so well with us, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador … I will temporarily hold off this designation and step up our joint efforts to deal decisively with these vicious and ever-growing organizations!” That’s the way of the art of the deal.
But wait. That’s not all. AMLO got a second scoop on his political cone on Sunday, Dec. 8, when Trump sent a request to the U.S. House of Representatives majority leader, Nancy Pelosi, to vote “quickly” on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). If she doesn’t comply, Trump said, the “U.S. economy will collapse.” Oh, oh.
With Morales out of Mexico and Trump relenting – momentarily, of course – on the terrorism designation for Mexican drug cartels now a done deal, it seems we have — pardon the cliché – a quid pro quo.
Plus, we may have the UMSCA approved this very year of 2019. Maybe now, AMLO will write his own version of “The Art of the Deal.”
Humongous Oil Cache
Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) Director Octavio Romero Oropeza took a deep breath in the state of Tabasco on, Friday, Dec. 6, before proudly announcing to AMLO:
“We can confirm, Mr. President, the existence of a giant deposit in the Quesqui (pronounce Kesky) oil field, with reserves of up to 700 million barrels of crude oil of the 3P category.”
The 3P oil category refers to an international system to define proven, probable and possible reserves.
1P refers to certain and in-hand reserves. Probable reserves are categorized as 2P, and possible reserves are categorized as 3P.
3P reserves exist, but it is far from certain that an oil company will ever fully discover, develop and produce them.
The impromptu announcement was music to AMLO’s ears. It confirmed that in his onslaughts against former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s attempts to “privatize” Pemex, the government stopped explorations. This was one of AMLO’s key arguments to get the popular vote.
Romero Oropeza outlined that once the 11 wells in Quesqui are operating in 2020, the field will yield 59,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude and up to 300 million cubic feet of gas.
The outlook for the field, Romero Oropeza said, is bright, and if all goes as expected, the field could produce 110,000 barrels a day, as well as 410 million cubic feet of gas.
Private Investment continued on the skids in Mexico, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), which registered an annual contraction in investment of 6.48 percent during the course of 2019.
The INEGI analysis gauges a variety of components of the country’s gross fixed investment.
An INEGI reports said that all components of fixed investment went down, demonstrating perhaps a reflection of manufacturing companies’ distrust of AMLO’s economic policies.
The last month with registered investment growth was last January, when investment showed a 0.96 rise.
In particular, the study said that investment dropped by 7.8 percent in the purchase of equipment and machinery.
Housing construction as a whole fell by 1.44 percent on a yearly rate for a third consecutive quarter.
Peso-Dollar Equity Remains Stable
The Mexican peso last week held steady against the U.S. dollar to reach its best trading price since Nov. 15, closing at 19.21 pesos per dollar.
The Mexican currency had an appreciation of 5.80 centavos as compared to its previous stance at 19.353 pesos per dollar.
New Wage Law
The Chamber of Deputies will vote on Tuesday, Dec. 10, on a new wage law for public employees.
The law will bring to an end the yearlong controversy between AMLO and the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice (SCJN).
When he was sworn into office, AMLO, complained about the high salaries SCJN judges receive (about 600,000 pesos per month, on average, for each of the 11 judges).
The bill will also redefine the president’s salary (established by AMLO at 108,000 pesos a month) and will set up limits as to how much government employees can earn.
The bill was sent to Congress by the SCJN which set a time limit to vote on until next Thursday, Dec. 12.
Sports: Ruiz Loses World Titles
A basic premise of boxing claims that the best defense comes with a powerful offense.
That’s what was lacking in the fight between defending champion Andy Ruiz of Mexico and Anthony Joshua of England. At stake were the WBO, WBF and IBF heavyweight titles.
In 12 rounds of non-boxing, both fighters managed to raise little excitement and neither Ruiz nor Joshua made the grade for what even could be deemed a good fight. It was stiff boring boxing.
Now, new champion Joshua devoted the entire 12 rounds to running away from Ruiz and Ruiz, at 278 pounds, couldn’t even drag his feet to move forward and chase Joshua.
It was the rabbit and the turtle tale. But this time the turtle lost.