By RICARDO CASTILLO
Unemployment: Mexico’s New Nightmare
Over 555,000 Mexican workers lost their jobs in April alone.
Those who lost jobs in May are not yet counted in a report issued on Tuesday, May 12, by the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS).
The bulk of the lost jobs, according to the IMSS, was in manufacturing, including high-employment maquiladoras, auto industries and construction, which garnered 54 percent of the layoffs.
That is the official figure, but it only includes workers registered with the IMSS.
There is, however, a larger, unofficial figure, this time gauged by the Latin American Association of Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Industries (Alampyme), headed by Alejandro Saucedo.
The Alampyme measurement of furloughed and dismissed personnel in Mexico puts the figure way above 1.1 million people, and growing by the day.
The real problem, Salcedo said, is that a sizeable amount of companies shuttered by the covid-19 pandemic policies will be bankrupt by the time they can open up again, hence they may not ever able to open up for business again.
“Our calculation (not an official figure) is that more than 1.1 million jobs have been lost, and over 150 (registered Alampyme members) will not reopen for business again,” he said.
That is the nongovernment report by one small business organization, which only adds further cause for despair to the already-gloomy panorama of the Mexican economy.
No doubt about it, the unemployment panic button has been hit!
A major potential corruption scandal that’s been in the news lately has been eliminated by the IMSS.
The Hidalgo unit of the IMSS purchased 20 ventilators for covid-19 intubated patients for its specialty clinic, allegedly at 1.5 million pesos per unit.
Perhaps the purchase would have gone unnoticed had not one of the partners of the ventilator manufacturing company, called Ciber Robotics Solutions León, been Manuel Bartlett Álvarez, the son of Federal Electricity Commission Director Manuel Bartlett Díaz.
In a press release, the IMSS stated: “As a result of a technical revision of the equipment (ventilators), it was determined that they don’t meet either the requirements or the technical characteristics agreed upon in the contract. The equipment has been returned to the supplier.”
The question is whether the Bartlett family is twisting arms within the Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) administration to sell its wares.
Sure, by returning the faulty ventilators – which had already been purchased – the issue was partially nullified, but now there is the issue of potential influence peddling.
It’s a moral issue. So much so that on Wednesday, May 1, the Mexican government legal watchdog , the Public Function Secretariat head Irma Eréndira Sandoval tweeted: “There will be no impunity in the case of the 20 ventilators at the IMSS Hidalgo. Our investigations are advancing and those responsible for the purchase will be sanctioned. We will not fail to our historic responsibility with the Fourth Transformation (in its fight against corruption).”
Cyber Crime on Rise
The Mexican National Guard cyber security department’s top cop, Radamés Hernández Alemán, who participated in a virtual video roundtable coordinated by the nongovernmental organization Common Cause, said that during the current pandemic (March, April and May) cyber crimes have increased by 14 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
Hernández Alemán said that the top five crimes are:
Phishing, in which crooks offer help with alleged social government programs. They request donations in advance to get the victims loans.
Smishing, in which users are cheated with offers of free services, reloads and subscription to entertainment platforms.
Car sales, in which the scammers offer – but do not deliver – cars at prices way below market prices.
Malware and spam diffusion, as well as the spread of fake news on the ongoing coronavirus contingency.
Zoombombing, which is a form of cyber harassment that’s been denounced by users of Zoom.
Hernández Alemán said that complaints can be filed by calling the National Guard 088 phone number.
Puebla Governor Miguel Barbosa warned Wednesday, May 13, that the potential reactivation of the Puebla auto industry could “topple” all security measures taken over the past two months to keep the covid-19 contagion at bay.
“Reactivating the car industry on May 18 could wipe out all sanitary and healthy distancing measures we’ve taken up until now,” Barbosa said.
“For Puebla, it means the return of 15,000 workers to the Volkswagen and Audi plants and at least 15,000 to other assembly and manufacturing plants. All this comes in the midst of most critical moment of the pandemic. Of course, in all this, the productive sector is putting pressure on companies to reopen, but there could be a contagion rebound that might get out of control.”
Anchored Cruise Ships
The Puerto Vallarta Marina offered its docking facilities to three cruise ships that had repeatedly been rejected at other ports.
The anchored ships are the Star Princess, with 201 personnel crewmen on board, the Grand Princess and Koningsdam, with 276 and 1,086 crews on board, respectively.
No passengers were reported aboard any of the cruisers.
Vallarta Marina authority’s reported that one of the ships docked ,while the other two are anchored in Banderas Bay, and all are waiting to transfer their multinational personnel to their places of origin.
No covid-19 contagions have been reported yet, but Jalisco state authorities are keeping a close watch on the ships’ staff.
The marina will be offering basic servicing to the three ships.
Sports: Let’s Play Political Ball
The Mexican Pacific League (LMP) AAA baseball team, the Mazatlán Deer (Venados de Mazatlán) has received a stiff warning from the Caribbean Baseball Confederation that it may withdraw the already-awarded right to carry out the Caribbean Series Championship in February 2021.
The Venados management has been undergoing a crisis since last April 7, when the Mazatlán municipality took away its the right to use the city-owned Teodoro Mariscal Baseball Stadium.
Caribbean Confederation President Juan Francisco Puello Herrera issued a press release pointing out that one thing is the Mazatlán Venados’ LMP participation and something else is the Caribbean Series, which is being threatened by the municipal suspension to use the stadium.
Puello Herrera demanded that the Mazatlán Venados management show, in writing, permission to use the stadium from municipal authorities, as well as the authorization to carry out the Caribbean Series as planned by the six participating nations in the weeklong tourney.
Mazatlán Municipal Mayor Luis Guillermo Benitez Torres said that he will give the Caribeean Series Confederation all the facilities to carry out the tournament, but so far, he has not released the written permission to the Venados management to carry out the winter Pacific baseball season.
As a last resort, the Caribbean Confederation plans to meet in Mazatlán in June – coronavirus travel permits withstanding – to decide the future of the 2021 Caribbean Series, touted in the baseball world as “The Little World Series.”
A more relevant question remains: Will the Mazatlán Venados team will participate in the regular 10-team professional Mexican Pacific League season, slated to be played from October to January.
It will, politics permitting, of course.
…May 15, 2020