By RICARDO CASTILLO
U.S. Senate Approves USMCA
While all the hoopla right now in the U.S. Senate is about President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, in Mexico, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is celebrating the approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
“This brings to an end an important stage because (the treaty) has been now approved by the U.S. government, both by the House of Representatives and the Senate,” AMLO said on Thursday, Jan. 16
The USMCA was voted on at the Senate on Thursday morning with an overwhelming approval of 89 votes in favor and only 10 against.
AMLO said in a special nationwide broadcast that he would expect the Canadian Parliament to soon follow suit, approving the negotiated trade pact.
“I predict that there will be no problem,” AMLO said.
The USMCA had a larger U.S. government approval than the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was voted on during an evening session back on Nov. 27, 1993, with no political sidetracking issues. But NAFTA barely passed, with 61 votes in favor and 38 against. Not surprisingly, in both voting sessions, those voting against were Democrats.
Now all that’s needed in Washington is for Trump to sign it into law.
Health Care for All Mexicans?
Upon announcing on Thursday, Jan. 16, the revamping of what will be the Institute for Health and Wellbeing (Insabi), AMLO predicted that “at the latest,” the newly integrated Insabi will be “fully integrated” and operational, by Dec. 1, with a 40 billion peso budget.
The Insabi has faced ferocious opposition, particularly from National Action Party (PAN) governors, who claim that the new institute is a “political ploy” by AMLO to erase the Popular Security health system that has serviced the poorest Mexicans.
AMLO retorted that he went ahead with Insabi because the Popular Security hospitals were “full of corruption.”
The people who are not covered by the Social Security “will be able to count on free medical attention and drugs,” he said, adding “we hope it becomes a reality by Dec. 1.”
AMLO said that the Insabi “is a commitment that has to be kept.”
”Many can say that it is not feasible, that it is utopia,” he said, “but that dream is going to become a reality and the utopia is what makes us trek toward those ideals.”
The best part of Insabi, AMLO said, “is that we have the money for it.”
They Will Not Pass
A new Central American migrant caravan began their trek north at dawn Wednesday, Jan 15, with some 2,000 marchers heading from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, toward Guatemala.
Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard immediately issued a warning to the caravan that the Mexican government will use “all means at hands” to impede their crossing through Mexico toward the U.S. border.
Ebrard issued the warning after meeting with new Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammatei, with whom he shared his rejection of a new migrant trend.
Interior (SeGob) Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero also warned that Mexico will not issue safe-passage visas to “foreigners attempting to reach the United States,” but will grant special visas to documented persons either seeking asylum in Mexico or applying for work permits to stay in the nation. “Persons seeking refuge are welcome,” she said, “even visitors due to humanitarian reasons, but we will not issue safe passage visas.”
Notwithstanding, the caravan was in Guatemala Thursday and moving north. Mexico’s National Guard is on an alert to stop the migrants from entering the country.
During 2019, 109,185 Hondurans were returned home, about 64,000 from Mexico and over 40,000 from the UNited States.
At present, 27,000 Hondurans have asylum permits, the majority of them are now living in Mexico-U.S. border towns.
Fuel Prices Up in 2019
Official figures from the Energy Regulation Commission (CRE) show that fuel prices went up during 2019 slightly above the 2.76 national inflation rate.
Regular gasoline, which 85 percent of consumers use, averaged 19.44 pesos per liter (77.76 pesos a gallon), with a yearly increase of 1.8 percent.
Premium gasoline cost were an average of 20.78 per liter, representing a total increase of 4.52 percent over the year.
Diesel had the highest hike, closing in December at 21.16 pesos per liter for an annual increase of 8.61 percent.