By RICARDO CASTILLO
Private Hospital Expropriations
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) published an executive order on Friday, March 27, awarding the federal government the right to “make use of all medical sectors, public, social and private, in the regions affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.” In short, private hospitals may be privatized for pandemic use only.
The decree, published in Mexico’s Official Gazette, and also signed by Mexican Public Health Secretary Jorge Carlos Alcocer Varela, spells out the “extraordinary actions” leading to the legal and constitutional basis to proceed with such an action, if necessary.
The executive order was the result of a meeting of the National Hygiene Council on March 19, in which the pandemic was acknowledged as a grave threatening disease.
In an unusual ad aired on Friday night, AMLO once again called upon the Mexican population to stay home and keep a “healthy distance” from physical contacts.
“Otherwise,” he said, “there will not be enough beds and not even hospitals. even though we’re prepared to take care of thousands.”
The Anti-Brewery Villain
On Saturday, March 28, AMLO visited the border city Mexicali to reassure the people there that their vote — right or wrong — counts and the Constellation Brands brewery that was about to set up shop in their arid community – Mexico’s hottest point in the summer, too, with 110 temperatures – can keep its aquifers for their consumption.
At the same time, the national leader of the Mexican Business Coordination Council (CCE), Carlos Salazar Lomelín, vehemently denied that the CCE has a bone to pick with AMLO’s administration over the brewery water permits’ cancellation.
However, there’s a villain in this story, and it’s no other than Mexican Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) Víctor Toledo, who greenlighted last February the carrying out of the voter consultation to determine whether Constellation stayed or went.
Toledo is being touted as “the villain” in this tale that’s costing Constellation Brands a $1.4 billion in already-committed investment money.
Not only did the referendum go ahead, but Toledo, king of left field in this ball game, called businessmen belonging to the CCE and the Mexican Employers Confederation (Coparmex), who’s president, Gustavo de Hoyos has established himself as AMLO’s top foe from the right, as “the real virus attacking the nation.”
In any case, CCE’s Salazar Lomelín called on AMLO “to rectify” the situation and AMLO announced that he will definitely talk to the Constellation Brands management.
The date is set for the afternoon of Tuesday, March 31, at the National Palace in Mexico City.
Banks Support Borrowers
The great majority of Mexican banks have softened debt collection practices for the upcoming months, given the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Banks announced that all customers who were up to date in their payments through Feb. 28 will get a four- to six-month payment moratorium.
And banks will not issue added interests to the regular debt.
Interests will be paid, but deferred according to each debtor’s record and type of credit.
Banorte, BBVA and Santander were the first to announce the measure, but it is expected that the rest of the banking brands operating in Mexico will join the bandwagon.
Production Up, Prices Down
Mexico’s National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH) announced that during February the total Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) oil production was 1.722 million barrels per day (bpd), slightly lower than that of January, which was 1.724 million bpd.
The top producing wells were in the Campeche Sound, which produced 53 percent of the total output.
The international price of crude oil dropped during February, by 9 percent from $55.29 to 50.30 per barrel, while export volume went down 7.3 percent.
In March, however, the CNH report is bound to look entirely different, since world prices collapsed and Mexican crude was being quoted, as of last report, at lower than $14 dollars per barrel.
Bolsa, Peso Plunge
The Mexican Stock Exchange (BMV or Bolsa) broke four consecutive days of hellish losses to rebound a meager 0.48 percent on Friday, March 27, to close at a nearly rock bottom figure of 35,706 units.
The Mexican peso also showed a slight gain after having traded at around 25 pesos per dollar during the week to close at 23.18 on Friday, according to central Banco de Mexico figures.
At banks, however, it closed selling at 23.65 with a gain of 66 centavos, according to Citibanamex.
The state governors of Hidalgo and Tabasco, Omar Fayad and Adan Augusto López, respectively, were reported as having tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday, March 29.
Through their Twitter accounts, both governors have promised that they will operate out of a virtual office from home as both will keep a tentative two.week quarantine. hoping to heal from the disease.