By RICARDO CASTILLO
Mexico’s Economy Shielded
In one of the multiple events of the four-day-long 31st Reunion of Ambassadors and Consuls 2020 organized by the Foreign Relations Secretariat (SRE) from Jan. 7 to Jan. 10, Treasury Secretary Arturo Herrera took the forum as an opportunity to claim that Mexico – one year after Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) advent to power – has a shielded economy from potential international financial turmoil such as the recent U.S.-Iran conflict that sent oil prices reeling upwards.
Herrera said that the nation’s international reserves had increased during 2019 from $173 billion to $180 billion. This represents a reverse trend from that seen in the past administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto, when reserves went down from $199 to nearly $172 billion, a hefty decline of over 15 percent from what Peña Nieto received from his predecesor, Felipe Calderón in 2012.
Besides the savings, Herrera told the nation’s ambassadors and consuls that Mexico enjoys a flexible line of credit from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as an extra contingency shielding credit of $9 billion from the U.S. Treasury Department.
In reality, the figures are not yet back up to where they should be, but they are a lot better than what the reserves were doing in the previous administration.
Maya Train “Profitable”
A cost-profits feasibility study released by the National Fund to Foster Tourism (Fonatur) said that the slated 139.1 billion pesos investment in the revamping of the old Maya Train railway is profitable as it will increase the net present value of the Yucatan Peninsula facility up to 206.6 billion pesos.
The reconstructed railway is expected to start operations by 2023, and 75 percent of the financing will come from public federal funding.
The design, construction, maintenance and rolling vehicles (30 engines and 180 passenger cars) is finally expected to have regional economic benefits of up to 356 billion pesos, out of which 46 percent will come from transportation income and the rest from the financial impact it will pump into the region.
The Maya Train will connect the main cities and tourist sites in the states of Yucatán, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Campeche and Chiapas with a total extension of 1,440 kilometers and will have a cruising speed of 130 kilometers an hour in single track extensions (the majority of it) while it will cruise at 160 kilometers an hour in double track regions, specifically between Cancun and Mérida.
García Luna (Fake?) News
The next court appearance of former Mexican Public Security Secretary Genaro García Luna, slated for Jan 21, is definitely the topic of the gossip of the day.
There’s a lot of gossip going around regarding “what the man knows” and who will he actually implicate in terms of former or current government officials involved with the powerful drug cartels operating in the nation.
At least one reliable source is Brooklyn federal court beat reporter for the New York Times Alan Feuer, who off the record but in his Twitter account said on Monday, Jan. 6: “Court papers filed today in the case of Genaro Garcia Luna, Mexico’s former top cop charged w/taking millions from the Sinaloa Drug Cartel, confirm that he is engaged in plea negotiations to settle his case with federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.”
On Friday, Jan. 3, García Luna pleaded not guilty, but, will he make a 180-degree turnaround in his statement?
We will all find out on Jan. 21, not before.
But whatever’s out in the (possibly fake) news makes for great gossip since García Luna is the prisoner of the day, and in Mexico, he’s already been deemed guiltier than sin by the majority of the general public.
AMLO’s Popularity Up
El Financiero daily newspaper — owned by Bloomberg News –- is full of opinion “leaders” who hate AMLO’s guts – the list is longer than the space for this item.
But the fact is that the editorial board carries out several polls a year, and the bad news for the AMLO-bashers is that the president finished 2019 — according to the newspaper’s latest 2019 poll — with a 72 percent popularity rating, 4 points higher than El Financiero’s November poll.
Disapproval of AMLO’s both political and economic performance dropped from 30 percent last May to 27 percent in December.
In short, the prophets whose crystal ball used to say that AMLO would lead Mexico into the boondocks is contradicted by a majority, and the worst news for the is that it is conservative El Financiero saying so.
The Walkway of the Heroines
During 2020, a new trend will be established by several historical societies which will be erecting statues to 12 women who stood out in Mexican history.
The first statue will be dedicated to Leona Vicario, who participated in the first years of rebellion of the initial Mexican independence movement from Spain in 1810, supplying viceroyalty information to the rebels.
One of the first women journalists and a wealthy heiress, she helped finance the movement. She married founding father Andrés Quintana Roo (pronounce the two os as o, not as u) and is considered as the “Sweet Mother of the Nation.”
The list is longer and put together by the Mexico City Culture Secretariat and includes top independence leaders such as Josefa Ortiz, and poet emeritus Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.
Other heroines in the “Paseo de las Heroínas” are Gertrudis Bocanegra, Margarita Maza, Mariana Rodríguez del Toro, Carmen Serdán, Matilde Montoya, Sara Perez Romero, Dolores Jiménez, Hermila Galindo and Elvia Carrillo Puerto, each with a long nationalist resumé in their own right.