Mexico News Roundup
By RICARDO CASTILLO
The full containment of the Covid-19 pandemic in Mexico will require much time than originally planned, so the stay-home period may have to be extended from the original April 30 to May 30, said Public Health Undersecretary Hugo López-Gatell, who is in charge of monitoring the spread of the disease.
The announcement was made during President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s /AMLO) daily press conference at the National Palace on Thursday, April 16.
“We are being successful at flattening the pandemic growth curve earlier than anticipated,” López-Gatell said, adding that authorities are taking a wait-and-see attitude before declaring in effect Phase 3 measures, when the contagion and massive breakout will foreseeably peak around May 8 or May 10, and then start to phase out.
Measures in effect will continue to be maintaining safe distances between individuals, secure sanitary implementation, restricting the pandemic regionally in terms of intensity and extending limitations on unnecessary travel within the nation.
Coronavirus-free regions will be opened up first, possibly starting on May 17.
Business to Coordinate with AMLO Government
After a noisy rift with AMLO, the president of one of the most important entrepreneurial organizations, the Business Coordination Council (CCE), Carlos Salazar Lomelín, promised “to be in touch with authorities” to coordinate actions leading to economic recovery once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
Speaking to several thousand CCE members nationwide in a web linkup, Salazar Lomelín pleaded with CCE member to do their best and keep helping employees during the rest of the epidemic period.
The National Association of Self-Service and Department Stores, which has 62,000 members, reported that sales in those installations that had been in business for more than one year had an inter-annual sales variation of 1.1 percent in March, down from 7.5 in February.
Department stores, most of which are operating only on line due to the Covid-19 pandemic financial crisis, saw their sales drop by 18.9 percent with online purchases keeping them afloat.
Pemex Sales Remain Steady
Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) Director Octavio Romero Oropeza said that the state-run oil company’s crude oil sales are keeping steady, even if the international market is flooded with supply and fuel consumption has dropped markedly within Mexico.
Romero said that Pemex has a storage capacity of 11 million barrels, which has been sufficient to meet refining and export needs.
Romero Oropeza added that Pemex is expecting to receive around $313 million this year from its oil insurance coverage.
Fitch Lowers Mexico’s Rating
As expected, the international agency Fitch lowered Mexico’s debt international rating from BBB to BBB-, with a perfective of economic stability but closer to junk bond status.
The drop came as a result of the economic standstill the nation is undergoing as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Fitch rating had an immediate effect on the peso-dollar exchange rate which on Thursday, April 16, bounce back to 24.21 pesos per greenback. up from the official closing of 23.98 the day before.
Nine state governors belonging to the opposition National Action Party (PAN) sent a letter to AMLO with seven proposals aiming at giving “fiscal stimuli” to the private sector and providing financing to small businesses to be able to meet headon the crisis provoked by the coronavirus pandemic.
The most important of their proposals was: “to defer tax payments and lower the profit taxes, as well as exempt the business sector from payments to the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), the housing institute Infonavit and retirement fund Afores for three months. These measures would help the business sector as a whole to keep jobs alive.”
The letter was signed by the state governors of Aguascalientes, Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajuato, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, Tamaulipas and Yucatán.
The letter specified recovery plans for most affected sectors.
There was no response as of yet from the National Palace.
The director of the General Hygiene Council of Mexico’s Public Health Secretariat, Ignacio Santos Preciado, said that all the scandal made following the presentation of the Bioethics Guide for the Allotment of Resources to Critical Medicine was much ado about nothing since the 13-page guide is just a rough draft of how to treat Covid-19 patients in intensive care.
The guide was opposed by National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) Dean Enrique Graue Wiechers, a well-known ophthalmologist, who opposed the guide for giving priority to young patients over older patients in cases in which, for instance, ventilators are scarce.
The publication of the guide’s rough draft also led to a flood of fake news by Mexican journalists (see my article “Press Unleashes Wrath against AMLO”).
Sports: Sports Tycoons
Mexican Forbes’ list tycoons are known not only because of their profitable businesses, but also for participating in the sponsorship of sports teams.
Heading the list of sports teams financers are television moguls Emilio Azcárraga Jean of Televisa and Ricardo Salinas Pliego of Grupo Salinas, who own the popular soccer teams América and Morelia, respectively.
Also under the spotlight is Mexico City Diablos Rojos AAA baseball team owner Alfredo Harp Helú, who besides being a banker (he used to own Banamex) is an avid baseball fan and even scholar.
He wrote a history on Mexican baseball while being held as a prisoner of kidnappers who let him have baseball literature to spend time waiting for the ransom, which was eventually paid.
Also, last year Harp Helú played catcher in the opening game of the regular Mexican baseball season, catching the initial pitch from AMLO.
Almost at the top of the Forbes list is Alberto Bailleres, who besides owning the Peñoles mining and smelting concern, has a ranch where bulls for bullfighting are bred.
He´s also known as a taurine impresario in a nation where bullfighting still thrives.
In soccer, Bailleres is a partner in the Santos Laguna first division and former champion team.
The one missing in sports is world-famous Carlos Slim, who tops the Forbes list, but does not own or sponsor any sports teams other than being slightly involved both with minor financing of the Pumas and Santos.