By RICARDO CASTILLO
Mexico at Odds with Bolivia
Diplomatic relations between Bolivia and Mexico are heading toward higher tensions as La Paz demands that Mexico deliver four out of nine people who have sought and been granted asylum in the Mexican Embassy in Bolivia.
Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard announces in early morning of Thursday, Dec. 26, that he would be filing a “juridical instrument” before the International Court of Justice against the de facto Bolivian government for violation of diplomatic law.
Ebrard also said that the Mexican Foreign Relations Secretariat was rapidly moving at the United Nations with filing suit demanding respect both for the Geneva Convention as well as the more recent Bogota Pact.
Ebrard said that the Mexican Embassy in La Paz had normally been surveilled by six Bolivian guards, but, as of Monday, Dec. 23, the number of “watchmen” went up to nearly 100 armed men, both police and military, with some dressed in black, who remain unidentified by the Mexican government.
The new Bolivian government’s chancellor, Karen Longaric Rodríguez, announced that the increase in guards was due to warranted information regarding an alleged attack by anti-Evo Morales radicals. But at the same time, she demanded the handing over of four of those in asylum.
Ebrard added he was appealing to international organizations, demanding that “embassy facilities and those who are inside be respected.”
Thus far, Ebrard said, 29 nations had expressed their solidarity with Mexico in defense of the integrity of its diplomatic mission in Bolivia.
In spite of the increase of guards, Longaric has discarded any proposal of intervention within the Mexican Embassy.
But at the same time, she has accused Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) of forming an alliance with deposed former Presideny Evo Morales to interfere in the internal affairs Bolivia’s de facto government, which is in the process of organizing new elections.
AMLO has denied any involvement in the internal affairs of Bolivia, other than having granted asylum to former members of Morales’ aDministration who have sought Mexican protection.
The Mexican Treasury Secretariat (Hacienda) published in the Official Gazette on Thursday, Dec. 25, a new increase of the Special Tax on Production and Services, popularly known as the IEPS, on fuels, cigarrettes and soft drinks as of Jan.1.
The announcement came in tandem with AMLO’s claim that there would be no new tax increases in the year to come.
According to the Hacienda announcement, the IEPS on magna gas with less than 91 octanes will be hiked from 4.57 to 4.95 pesos per liter.
The IEPS on gasoline with higher octane content or Magna will raise at from 4.06 to 4.18 pesos a liter.
Diesel will go up from 4.65 to 5.44 pesos per liter, while propane, butane, turbine and others will have a flat cost of 7.48, 9.58 and 5.67 pesos per liter, respectively.
The increase on tobacco will be 0.4944 per cigarrete while soft drinks go from 1.17 to 1.2616 per liter.
UN Contradicted on Maya Train
While showing concern over the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights opinion on the poll carried out among Maya communities in the Yucatan peninsula claiming it did not meet international standards of democratic process, the Mexican government has decided to go ahead next week with negotiations with contractors who will revamp the old railway and build new double-track facilities, particularly between Cancun and Mérida.
Regarding the UN opinion, the AMLO administration claimed that the communities approved the Maya Train construction.
On Dec. 19, the UN said that the information presented to voters only made reference to possible benefits of the train and not to the negative impacts it may have, both on the environment and their native way of life.
The government, both through the presidency and the Interior Secretariat, issued a statement that the UN’s opinion was unfounded and lacked objectivity, as the communities were notified through local meetings and in four different Mayan dialects over what would be rolling their way in the year previous to the poll.
AMLO Unveils TEO
AMLO unveiled the new giant sewage system known as the Eastern Emissions Tunnel (TEO), on Monday, Dec. 23, which had been under construction for the past 11 years.
The 62.4-kilometer-long facility was inaugurated at the township of Huehuetoca, in the State of Mexico, delivering part of Mexico City’s sewage to treatment plants in the State of Hidalgo.