By RICARDO CASTILLO
Due to the imminent threat of a Covid-19 contagion, Mexico’s Public Education Secretariat (SEP) opted for stopping classes altogether for two weeks as of Friday, March 20. The two weeks will link up with the upcoming two week Easter vacation, slated to start on April 4. Classes will restart on April 20, providing for a 30-day vacation.
This “good news” for 36.6 million Mexican elementary, high school and university students in 265,000 public schools will also go for the 2.1 million teachers in the SEP’s budget.
Education Secretary Esteban Moctezuma Barragán said the class’s suspension is a well-weighed measure and that from Tuesday, March 17, through Friday, March 20, classes would involve information on the nature of the coronavirus worldwide pandemic and the impact it could have in Mexico if contact as usual among students and others continues.
Also, there will be informative courses for parents of elementary school children to explain the nature of the recess and suggest that the time at home be spend on hygiene education-oriented activities.
Parents should also oversee children washing their hands and check they don’t have fever, dry cough or a headache, the initial symptoms of Covid-19.
This program will be titled “Keeping a Healthy Distance” as part of an overall effort to prevent coronavirus contagion.
Moctezuma Barragán added that, in the meantime, the SEP will figure out how to replace the lost 10 days of classes, which will be made up for, perhaps, at the end of the school year.
AMLO, Bankers in the Same Boat
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) delivered the closing speech of the 83rd National Banking Convention in Acapulco on Friday, March 13, promising the often mistrusting bankers that his administration will continue with economic stability by not increasing government debt through loans “no matter what.”
AMLO said that his administration will sustain a low-expenditure financial discipline by respecting the Central Bank of Mexico’s (Banxico) autonomy.
AMLO likewise promised there would not be “any changes in the rules of the game” pertaining to economic policies, and added that if there are any, they will not come from him, but from the Bank of Mexico.
Bankers, on the other hand, through Mexican Bank Association president Luis Niño de Rivera, pleaded to keep an environment “of confidence as we comply with the tasks of certitude to investors in transforming Mexico.”
” We offer you to work together,” Niño de Riveras said, “the banking system and your administration, to bring about those surroundings of trust.”
Niño De Rivera underlined that what is stopping investment and development in Mexioc at this time are “the high levels of violence, the lack of a transparent, efficient and expedite juridical system and the need and consistency in investment rules for infrastructure projects.”
The Bank Association president concluded by telling AMLO: “Let’s remember that capital and investors go to places where they see opportunities and stay where they feel confident.”
Canada Approves the USMCA
Canada’s House of Commons unanimously approved the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on Friday, March 13, after bringing to an end a long period of discussions of specific issues regarding the treaty.
Canada’s approval was the missing link on giving a greenlight to the UMSCA.
Now the treaty will go for signing by Governor General Julie Payette and then on to be approved by the Senate, where Mexican UMSCA Representative Jesús Seade feels “it is a done deal.”
Immediately after the approval of the USMCA, the House of Commons went into a period of sessions recess due to Covid-19.
Covid-19 Hurts Business
National Council of the Maquiladora and Manufacturing Industries for Export president Luis Aguirre forecast that as much as $2 billion in Mexican exports would be stalled during March for lack of input coming from China because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Mexican Stock Exchange announced that its president, Jaime Ruiz Sacristan, tested positive for the coronavirus syndrome.
He’s now in quarantine for an unspecified period of time.
Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) President Alejandro “Alito” Camacho announced the suspension of all “mass meetings as to not affect Mexican families by potentially exposing them to the coronavirus infection.”
Pundits immediately told “Alito” to go ahead and hold the PRI meetings because “nobody shows up for them anyway.”
El Marro’s Father Tanked
Rodolfo Yepes, the father of José Antonio Yepes, aka El Marro, the ominous leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, which has the state of Guanajuato in a state of constant fear, was arraigned for trial in the city of Celaya late last week.
The elder Yepes was charged with driving a stolen vehicle on March 5, when he was asked to stop, but instead his body guards fired at police.
This initiated a chase, after which Yepes lost control and crashed against a tree.
After a six-hour hearing at the Penal Oral Courts of the State of Guanajuato’s Judicial Court, headed by Judge José de Jesús Delgado, Rodolfo “N” (Mexican law bans media giving out last names of persons on trial, but given the prominence of this particular arrest, we use it) put Yepes under arrest for a two-month period to bring investigations to an end.
During this period, both the defense and prosecutors can gather data for and against the father of Guanajuato state’s most-wanted criminal.
Should he be found guilty of stealing a vehicle, Rodolfo “N” will spend three years in jail.
Rodolfo lied several times to the court about his address and his marital status.
El Marro has already answered with a series of attacks against police patrols, murdering one Celaya city police officer, and wreaking havoc along the Celaya-Salamanca road.
Given these attacks, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico has issued a statement saying “the employees of the United States government must not travel over the area located south of and on Road 450 covering Celaya, Salamanca and Irapuato.”
The embassy statement gives no reasons for not traveling on Road 450, but there is no doubt that El Marro has declared war on police and public officials, and his heavily armed thugs operate mostly along this Guanajuato state road.
Mexican Banner at the State Dept.
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau tweeted that after much “intense maneuvering” with bureaucracy, a new, “dignified” and heavily embroidered Mexican flag is hanging along with other flags at the State Department.
He did not say how the previous Mexican flag looked.
Sports: Empty Stadia
Over the past weekend, the professional Mexican Soccer League decided to proceed with its programmed roster of matches so as not to interrupt the season underway.
The one difference is that people who follow the nation’s most popular sport are not allowed into the stadia due to the official Covid-19-provoked ban on public gatherings.
The Mexican Soccer Federation also announced that the revenue losses will be considerable, for which it will reconsider the plan to play without an audience, though all of the matches are duly televised by ESPN and Fox Sports, as well as Mexican open television TVAzteca.
The owners of the league’s teams will convene on Thursday, March 19, at the Mexico City Federation offices to decide how to proceed for the rest of the season.
Given the emptiness at stadia, the only sound audible in the broadcasts was the players usual trash talk nobody can hear anyway when there are people screaming on the stands.