By RICARDO CASTILLO
Partial National Shutdown
As of Monday, March 30, Mexico officially entered into a month-long economic standstill to prevent close contact among citizens in order to avoid the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
The announcement of the partial national shutdown, which will last through April 30, was made by members of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) cabinet, but primarily by the official Covid-19 control man in charge of the matter, Public Health undersecretary Hugo López-Gatell.
López-Gatell outlined a number of commercial and humanitarian sectors that will continue to operate in order to keep Mexicansociety supplied with basic needs.
Financial sectors and tax collection services, namely, the Taxation Management Administration of the Treasury Secretariat;
Companies involved in the sale and distribution of fuels, that is, filling stations and liquid gas suppliers;
Companies involved in the generation and distribution of potable water, normally managed by municipal governments;
Food and nonalcoholic beverages industries manufacturers and distributors, as well as supermarkets, convenience stores, grocery stores and those involved in the sale of prepared foods;
Cargo and passenger transportation services;
Agricultural production, fishing, fowl, meats, agribusiness and chemical industries;
Companies involved in producing cleaning products, hardware stores, messenger services, private guards in security duties;
Daycare centers (to support working women and men in essential sectors);
Senior nursing homes, homeless refuges and support centers for women victims of violence as well as for their children.;
Telecommunications and information services;
Private emergency services (ambulances), as well as funeral homes and cemeteries;
Companies involved in storage and cold supply chain of essential supplies;
Those involved in the logistics including airports, ports and railroads.
Additionally, the Education Secretariat announced that its intended return to classes on Monday, April 19, has been moved up, in line with the Health Secretariat announcement, until April 30.
There will be no curfews in the nation’s towns and cities, López-Gatell said, but the idea behind this is for everyone else not supplying these services to stay at home.
“This is the only way we can beat the upward growing curve of this pandemic that is affecting Mexico,” he said. “There is no other way.”
Joining epidemiologist. López-Gatell were the secretaries of Interior, Defense, Navy, Foreign Relation and his direct boss, Public Health Secretary Jorge Alcocer.
Peso, Oil Stabilize
The peso-dollar exchange on Tuesday, March 31, remained stable thanks to a massive injection of dollars carried out by both the U.S. Fed and the Central Bank of Mexico through a previously $60 billion swaps program.
The peso sold on the average at 24.15 per dollar and was purchased at around 23.13 in BBVA Bancomer and Citibanamex.
The Mexican oil mix, on the other hand, remained stable at $10.73 after plummeting on Monday, March 30, by a hefty 20.29 percent, sending the state-run oil producer Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) into a maximum emergence management.
Though Mexico holds an insurance-protected price of $49 dollars per barrel, the current rock bottom prices are sending shivers up the spine of the Mexican economic system.
The good news is for consumers, who are now paying an average of 13 pesos per liter of gas at the pump.
AMLO announced during his early morning daily press conference Tuesday, March 31, that on Sunday, April 5, he would announce “a new economic plan to lift up the nation’s economy.”
Foreign investors – those infamous fly-by-night carry traders – had sold 321.388 billion pesos in government bonds as of Feb. 27, when the first case of coronavirus was detected in Mexico.
That amount, according to the Central Bank of Mexico (Banxico), represents 8.5 percent of the gross domestic product.
The head of Mexico’s Institute of International Finances of the International Monetary Fund Jonathan Fortun Vargas said that this type of capital flight is not affecting Mexico alone, but is hitting hard in most emerging economies, and has by now surpassed the levels of the financial crisis that affected the world in the 2008-2009 quagmire.
At that time, Mexico was at the center of the AH1N1 pandemic.
Also now being affected by carry trade capital flight are Russia, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and Chile.
According to the Bank of Mexico’s area manager Johnathan Heath, many investors pulling out of Mexico also took a beating as they had to buy dollars at over 25 pesos, markedly decreasing their profits.
No Bail for García Luna
Brooklyn Federal Judge Ramón Reyes on Tuesday, March 31, rejected the bail request made by former Mexican Public Security Secretary Genaro García Luna, who will be tried for aiding, abetting and protecting drug cartels during his six years in that post and for allegedly taking millions of dollars in bribes.
García Luna´s defense lawyer, Cesar de Castro, also pleaded for mercy on behalf of his “very scared” client, who is now spending time at the Federal New York Metropolitan Detention Center, threatened with Covid-19 contagion.
Judge Reyes also denied bail on these grounds.
Third Coronavirus Positive Governor
Queretaro State Governor Francisco Domínguez announced on Monday, March 30, that he had tested positive for coronavirus, and that he was going into self-imposed quarantine immediately.
Domínguez joins Hidalgo and Tabasco state governors Omar Fayad and Adán Augusto López Hernández, respectively, who last week made their own announcements.
The virus has hit all of them indiscriminately, not mattering that Domínguez is from the National Action Party, Fayad from the Institutional Revolutionary Party and López Hernández from the National Regeneration Movement (Morena.)
For sure, this virus has no respect for ideological differences!
Sports: Total Blackout
The total sports blackout is bound to continue for the rest of the month of April, during which, by decree, there can be no gatherings in Mexico of more than 50 people at a single event.