By RICARDO CASTILLO
2020 News Forecasts
An old adage used to say that someday news would travel so fast that we would know the facts about a news item even before it happened.
I’ve got news for you; that’s no longer an adage.
Hence, here’s a vague glimpse of the shape of news to come in Mexico during 2020, which will surely be the theme of newspapers in the year ahead.
Just remember, news is, by definition, unscripted, so we will remain open to whatever happens that’s new, even if not necessarily fit to print.
Here’s an incomplete list of issues that will, no doubt, grab headlines over the course of the next 12 months.
Security happens to be the Number One priority of the Andrés Manel López Obrador (AMLO) administration. Otherwise the creation last June of Mexico’s National Guard (GN) would not have been warranted.
The Guardia Nacional set out on the wrong foot since it had to be deployed to meet U.S. President Donald Trump’s demand that the truly awesome number (both for Mexico and the United States) of people migrating from Central America and threatening the North American economies be stopped or else he would levy excruciating taxes on Mexican exports.
López Obrador responded on the double, and both the flood of migrants and the economic war was stopped cold on their tracks.
Now; the GN will continue on its natural course of development according to programming, progressing the way it was conceived to do, one step at a time.
Most people – particularly AMLO’s political adversaries, who were already proclaiming the GN as a failure – expected the Guardia Nacional to take the nation by storm.
But as a newly founded institution, it is still in the process of building its own housing facilities before its members take to the streets.
Regardless, the number of guards – equally men and women – is now at 100,000 members, who are still doing very little police work, but have set the stage and are ready to — what else? — bring peace to a society that demands it and most certainly deserves it.
García Luna Affair
On Friday, Jan. 3, former Mexican National Security Secretary Genaro García Luna pleaded “not guilty” to charges brought against him by the U.S. Attorney General at a Brooklyn Federal Court.
Although he is legally considered “innocent until proven guilty,” García Luna’s trial – if it comes at all – is anxiously being awaited by Mexicans.
AMLO has said that the fact that García Luna was arrested – even if he has pled innocent – suggests that drug lords corrupted the political system all the way up to the presidency.
García Luna’s next appearance in court is slated for Jan. 21, when most expectations suggest that he will not stand trial and be shielded under the United States’ “protected witness” program.
Morena Struggles to Survive
The political party founded by AMLO, the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), is undergoing an internal struggle that promises to produce lots of news.
Four candidates are vying for the presidency at a time when Morena’s founding father has vowed to “ stay out of electoral politics,” including those of the party that led him to power.
In the eyes of many an observer, the internal splinter is so grave that they are predicting that Morena may not survive past the 2021 elections.
El Tren Maya
At the start of the new year last week, members of the native Zapatista guerrilla movement swore that they would fight to the death against the reconstruction of the Maya Train, one of AMLO’s electoral promises to his supporters.
AMLO said he will go ahead with it anyway, and called the guerrillas’ threat political “propaganda” because the train barely touches on the fringes of Zapatista territory in the state of Chiapas.
In any case, the threat stands and the young indigenous Maya want attention.
On a related topic, AMLO just promised he’d reshape the route of the fuel ducts that go from the Gulf of Mexico to Tula, just north of Mexico City.
Mexico’s indigenous Otomi communities claim the original pipeline crosses over land they consider sacred.
This is one problem AMLO can just work around.
INE Logistics for 2021 Midterms
The laborious task of setting the stage for the federal midterm elections will be silently underway throughout 2021.
By December 2020, candidates will be throwing their hats into the ring, just as the National Electoral Institute (INE) makes logistics arrangements for the June 5, 2021, elections.
USMCA Final Approval
Though it is being taken for granted that the Republican-dominated U.S. Senate will give the green light to the already-negotiated and House-approved United State-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), there is as yet no date for the voting process.
Some, like AMLO, are hoping for a January vote – the sooner the better – while others, taking into consideration the Senate’s busy agenda, believe that the vote will be in April.
Whenever is fine, since there’s always NAFTA to fall back on.
Air travel tourism between Mexico and the United States dropped by 1 percent during the first 10 months of 2019.
That may not seem like much, but in gross passenger numbers it represents 283,324 less ticket-, hotel- and meal-paying visitors traveling to Mexico, according to Mexico’s Federal Agency of Civilian Aviation.
The main person worried by the statistics is Tourism Secretary Miguel Torruco Márques because the negative figure may be proof that his critics are right, and he’s taking the wrong approach to luring more, not less tourism from the United States.
The much-publicized murders last year of members the binational LeBarón family close to the U.S. border and the slaying of a 14-year-old American boy on holiday with his family on Monday, Jan. 6, just south of Texas have not helped the situation.
The big question is: Can Torruco reverse the trend?
In short, he needs to shape up or ship out.
When it comes to the economic future of Mexico, the AMLO administration is betting on two pluses from 2019: a stable peso-dollar parity and low inflation, below 3 percent.
Nevertheless, global economists are demanding GDP growth – a segment in which AMLO is floundering – as well as lots of new jobs.
AMLO has said that he foresees an economic miracle when the USMCA actually goes into effect.
But there is no patience on this one; people want GDP growth now.
This is some of what we can expect to see in Mexico in 2020.
We are omitting the police blotter and health news not for lack of importance, but rather because of limited space.
Notwithstanding, they are at the end of our 2020 glasses news crosshairs and will certainly play a role in the shape of things to come for the next 12 months.
In the meantime, we recommend that you live the moment, and we wish you a great 2020.