By RICARDO CASTILLO
Additional Tag-ons to the USMCA
No sooner had U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to the House of Representatives for a vote on Friday, Dec. 13, than Democratic Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MA) introduced initiative HR5430, which tags five U.S. inspectors to oversee union elections in private companies in Mexico.
Immediately, Mexico’s USMCA negotiator and Foreign Relations Undersecretary for North America Jesús Seade not only cried foul and sought an urgent meeting with U.S. Ambassador Christopher Landau since the five inspectors would be added to his embassy’s personnel as “attachés.” Landau, press reports said, did not respond because he was out taco-hunting somewhere in Mexico.
Seade said that during the signing of the final protocol of the USMCA, all parties had agreed that union conflicts would be dealt with through panels. Now Congressman Hoyer has flapped the tortilla around.
Seade will be in Washington on Monday, Dec. 16, hoping to be received by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to explain what this is all about since hopes were high that the USMCA would be approved by the House on Tuesday, Dec. 17.
No doubt, Seade will be serenading Lighthizer with that old 90s song by “4 non blondes” singer Linda Perry: “What’s going on?”
The Usual Suspects
After former Mexican Public Security Secretary Genaro García Luna was arrested in Dallas on a myriad of drug-related chargers, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) said that there will be “a revision of who in the current government participated with Garcia Luna and who went on into the (Enrique) Peña Nieto administration and arrived with us, if there are any.”
Immediately, the new anchor and head of AMLO’s media fusillade squad, Ciro Gómez Leyva, came up with four names of people who allegedly worked with García Luna. Heading the list was National Guard Commander-in-Chief Luis Rodríguez Bucio, who responded by tweeting the following:
“I would be extremely grateful for Ciro Gómez Leyva to verify the information he issued last night in his TV news program. Never in my days of service (40 years) have I had to report on my work to Mr. García Luna.”
Other official “suspects” that have answered Gomez Leyva’s denouncement are Vidal Díaz Leal Ochoa, head of the Federal Police, Felipe de Jesús Gallo Gutiérrez, head of the coordination of Criminal Investigation Methods Department of the General Fiscal of the Republic Office, and the head of the Mexico City Public Security Police Department, Omar García Harfuch.
Now the investigation is in the hands of Citizens’ Protection and Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo.
Will heads roll after Gomez Leyva thus-far partially fake news accusation?
Party Budget Cuts? Never
All the minority parties in the Mexican Congress ganged up against the majority National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party and the proposed a bill to cut the budget allotted by constitutional law to political parties in half, but the vote failed to meet the two-thirds majority requirement to pass.
Uniting against Morena were the second-fiddle in Congress, the National Action Party (PAN), the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and the Citizens’ Movement, whose vote against the budget cut came as no surprise.
A surprise vote against came from the Morena ally and now the radical left movement Labor Party, as well as the wishywashy Green Party, which flipflops constantly between sides according to what is convenient at the time.
This way, Morena may have lost a political battle, but in the end will come out a cash winner, since its leader, Yeidckol Polevnsky, was calling for a two-thirds cut of the allotted 1.5-plus billion pesos for its 2020 budget.
This is surely, sweet suffering for the ruling party.
Still resounding in the cold walls of the Santa Martha Acatitla Penitentiary are the words of former President Enrique Peña Nieto back in 2013, when then-Social Development Secretary Rosario Robles Berlanga launched a program called the National Crusade Against Hunger, through which many a billion peso just disappeared and now is part of the Master Fraud investigation which landed her in the women’s prison.
Peña Nieto said diligently then: “Don’t worry, Rosario,” showing clear sympathy for the woman now considered Peña Nieto’s scapegoat on corruption charges.
Rosario is bitter (how else can it be?) that the fiscal attorneys filing charges against her consider her a real culprit.
She claims she doesn’t understand her political role in her trial.
She’s asking if she is “the trophy for exhibiting an alleged combat against corruption by the government or (is she under arrest) just … for being a woman.”
Either way, she’s in the slammer.
Huge Lithium Cache, But…
Last week, Mexican Environment and Natural Resources Secretary (Semarnat) Victor Manuel Toleda announced that there is an enormous lithium deposit along the Sonora-Chihuahua borderline, right where the recent assassination of nine member of the Mormon LeBaron family was carried out on Nov. 4.
But the news from Toledo, delivered Thursday, Dec. 12, during AMLO’s daily press conference, was not all that welcome, even if was good news.
The memory of the crime lingers on, overshadowing the potentials the lithium cache holds, perhaps as the largest in the world, allegedly surpassing in potential production Chilean and Bolivian deposits.
There are currently 12 companies doing strip mining on the land, among them Chinese giant Gangfeng Lithium de Mexico, and Canadian enterprise Bacanora Lithium, the most relevant operation in the area.
All operating companies are now in initial investment stage, but economic forecasts indicate that they will become profitable by 2022.
In an area infested with loose criminal gangs, like the one that assassinated the LeBaron family members, organized crime groups are surely already wringing their hands at the prospect of the upcoming millionaire exploit of lithium, which Toledo labeled “the new petroleum of Mexico.”
Sports: Monterrey Advances in Clubs’ World Cup
The Mexican champion Monterrey Striped Gang (Pandilla Rayada) advanced to the semi-finals in the FIFA Champion Teams World Cup, now being played in Qatar.
Los Rayados played against the Qatari champion Al-Sadd, with a 3-2 victory in a match that during the first half looked like a rollover.
But in the second half, the Al-Sadd players perked up and managed to score their two goals, much to the joy of the local crowd, which had greater expectations.
Now Monterrey advances to compete against UEFA Champions and British Premier League champion Liverpool.
The will be aired in Mexico at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 16.