By RICARDO CASTILLO
69 New Barracks for National Guardsmen
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) spent the weekend inaugurating new barracks for the National Guard in the states of Jalisco, Michoacán and Guanajuato, the latter two known for a high presence of organized criminal gangs.
Mexican Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval said each barrack will house somewhere between 120 and 150 National Guardsmen.
Thus far, the government has built 18 barracks in Guanajuato, 22 in Michoacán and 29 in Jalisco.
Cresencio Sandoval said that, by the end of this year, there will be 76 more quarters for guardsmen.
The National Guard has continued to expand since it began operations last July, with the immediate deployment of 27,000 men and women to border states to help curb the flow of migrants from Central America to the United States.
The final objective is to build 266 National Guard headquarters nationwide.
With that, AMLO said, speaking in the municipality of Tepatitlan, Jalisco, “we’re going to advance in the objective of pacifying the nation.”
The National Guard is thus far deployed in 150 municipalities, many still without formal quarters.
Very Expensive Tamales
More than 200 Mexican tycoons attended a thick hot chocolate and tamales dinner in the National Palace where AMLO passed around sheets of paper to all the attendees, calling on them to sign a commitment to buy lottery tickets for a raffle on Sept. 15 to be called the “Presidential Plane Raffle.”
López Obrador announced the next day, Thursday, Feb. 13, that 75 moguls had vowed to buy half the available three million tickets bringing in cash commitments for 1.5 billion pesos.
Cartoonists the next day had a heyday drawing two businessmen complaining: “These have got to be the most expensive tamales in the world. Let’s go register a complaint at the Consumer Protection Agency.”
No Bail for Lozoya
Spanish Judge Ismael Moreno ordered former Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) Director Emilio Lozoya Austin jailed without bail in a Marbella prison, in the southern province of Málaga.
After being arrested, Lozoya identified himself with a fake driver’s licence issued in Mexico City.
The arresting officers, however, notified him that they had already identified perfectly who he was.
Meanwhile in Mexico, the Lozoya arrest is sending shivers up the spines of many politicians. (Read more on this issue in an article to be published in Pulse News Mexico on Tuesday, Feb. 18.)
Mexican Economy Secretary Graciela Márquez, when asked about the now-15-month-long downward trend of the nation’s industrial output and the 27-percent decrease in the rate of formal employment, had no choice but to answer.
“I have to admit that, in fact, there is an important deceleration,” she said.
”But we’re trying to turn the situation around, hopefully this very year, through prompt public and private investment in infrastructure.”
Interest Rates Lowered
The Central Bank of Mexico dropped the interest rate from 7.25 to 7 percent on Thursday, Feb. 13.
The five members of the Central Bank board voted in favor of diminishing the rate — which is still one of the highest in the world — one more time, despite complaints from some sectors.
The rate has been reduced by .25 percent four times since last August, with the hope that lower interest rates by commercial banks would spike up consumer spending.
Sports: Julio César, Mr. Amigo but…
Former world boxing champion Julio César was awarded the annual recognition of Mr. Amigo, issued in tandem by the border cities of Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros, Tamaulipas.
But there was a problem.
Chávez was not familiar with the award and when he was offered the chance to accept it, he turned it down, according to Mr. Amigo Association president Artemio Alvarez.
“I told him no right away,” Chávez said in Mexico City.
Álvarez explained that the award went to people with a noteworthy career in sports, and that now-deceased World Boxing Council president José Sulaimán was honored to accept the recognition.
“We talked for about an hour until I took pity on the guy and finally accepted” on condition that Sulaimán’s son, Mauricio and current World Boxing Council president, accompany him, Álvarez said.
Álvarez said yes right away.
Both cities celebrate in May the Cowboy and Charro Fiesta, and it’ll be during that period that JUlio César will be recognized.