Mexico News Roundup
By RICARDO CASTILLO
Corona “Beerus” Brewery Nixed at Border
A poll carried out by Mexico’s Interior Secretariat (SeGob) over the past weekend (Saturday, March 21, and Sunday, March 22) resulted in an overwhelming vote against the establishment of Corona beer manufacturer Constellation Brands mega-brewery in the Mexican border city of Mexicali, on the Mexican side of Calexico and Imperial Valley, California, near the Colorado River basin that drains into the Gulf of California.
Interior Undersecretary Diana Álvaro Maury aired the results as having a total participation of 36,781 registered voters, with 76.1 percent voting against the brewery and 23 percent in favor.
The issue at hand was that the brewery could possibly leave both Mexicali and surrounding farming communities with stiff water shortages.
Local folks punned the brewery was the Corona beerus maker (beer-us sounds a lot like the Mexican word for virus).
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) commented that “when there is a result like this one, it is evident there is no agreement. If less people had participated or had there been a more even result (there could be a negotiation of the matter), but we have to rule with the popular mandate.”
Local Mexicali business organizations such as the Business Coordination Council (CCE) called the poll “unconstitutional and illegal,” but the government’s response was: “The National Water Commission (Conga) will no longer extend the corresponding permits for the operation of the plant. The administration will get in touch with the company to compensate the damages.”
Constellation Brands has already invested $900 million in the facility.
AMLO said that he is willing to meet with the company’s management to explain the situation and broker a compensation agreement.
“I will talk, if necessary, to the owners,” he said.
“Of course, we care about foreign investment in Mexico and job creation, but we also have to look after the people’s opinion and our national resources. Growth must come not just for the sake of growth, but growth with wellbeing.”
(Note: A more detailed narration of the years-long international Mexico-U.S. conflict over Colorado River water rights, in which the Mexicali Valley and river basin gets badly shortchanged in terms of water allowances, will run in Pulse News Mexico on Thursday, March 26. The bottom line is water shortages for Mexicali residents. There’s more than meets the eye beyond the resistance to host a brewery project, which was previously rejected by California and Arizona for the very same reasons that Mexicali does not want to do so now.)
Landau Vs Calderón
A diplomatic spat arose out of a tweet launched by former Mexican President Felipe Calderón showing a quote from Democratic presidential pre-candidate Joe Biden saying: “In times of crisis, a president must calm and comfort people and show the way with a firm hand, and provide a lighthouse of hope to the American people. Donald Trump is incapable of doing that.”
To hear this coming from Biden is no surprise. He has certainly said worse about The Don.
And as a Mexican, I interpret this as a tirade from Calderón referring to his top political foe, AMLO. But apparently it didn’t come across that way, at least for U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau.
Landau, in a Spanish tweet, responded to Calderón saying: “In times of crisis, a former president does not have to butt into the domestic politics of another nation. Now, more than ever, we have to work together, let us not politicize this by the grace of God.”
Calderón did not respond.
Fuel Prices Drop
If you filled up your gas tank last week in order to hoard some gas for the near future, then you just made a bad mistake, paying 20 pesos per liter.
The price of green (regular) gasoline has gone down to as low as 15.24 pesos per liter in some places in Mexico, with an average cost now of 17 pesos.
The Federal Consumer Protection Agency (Profeco) reported that the highest price for gas, in some stations, was 18.99 per liter.
The agency’s recommended sales price is of 17 pesos, but in Mexico’s free market, each filling station can charge the price it deems profitable.
However, on Tuesday, March 24, AMLO Tuesday suggested that the top price should stay at 17.
In a personal video aired over the past weekend, AMLO maintained that his administration had made the decision to lower the prices, diesel included.
Pundits claim that nobody believed AMLO immediately because there still lingers the memory of former President Enrique Peña Nieto, and other past presidents, who every time they took to the air waves to make an announcement on gasoline, it was for a hike. Not this time.
Still, when compared to fuel prices in the United States and Canada, Mexico’s gas prices are higher, even if they have been lowered.
Bolsa Breathes After Battering
The Mexican Stock Exchange breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday, March 24, and moved up slightly to close with a 4.42 percent gain after a five-day streak of losses.
The Bolsa closed at a low, but still improved, 34,422.53 points, way down from two years ago, when it was flying at over 52,000 points.
The Mexican peso also gained against the dollar dropping from 25.135 to the U.S. dollar down to 25.0135 pesos per dollar, showing a 12.15-centavo recovery.
Sports: Padilla Applauds Olympiad Postponement
Mexican Olympic Committee President Carlos Padilla Becerra agreed with Japanese Prime Minister and leading Olympic Games organizer Shinzo Abe that the best route to take in these times of viral uncertainty is to postpone the game until next year.
“I see carrying out the games as planned as a very complicated venture. Besides, we have to protect the health of sports competitors,” Padilla said in a phone interview with sports daily Esto as he, like millions of Mexicans, is staying home as a protective measure against coronavirus contagion.
“What’s not on the agenda is cancellation. It is not because it would solve anything nor benefit anyone. What International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has instructed is the creation of a high-level work group with a member from the World Health Organization, a member of these games organizing committee, a Japanese government representative and someone from the Tokyo metropolitan area to give us as much information as possible and keep us updated as to how things progress for next year,”