By RICARDO CASTILLO
Jiménez Espriú Resigns
After accepting the resignation of Communications and Transportation Secretary (SCT) Javier Jiménez Espriú, Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) announced this week that the new secretary will be Jorge Arganis Díaz Leal.
Jiménez Espriú turned in his resignation last week after AMLO announced that all customs houses were going to be managed by the Army and all seaports by the Navy.
Jiménez Espriú was reportedly “furious” with the president because his view was not taken into consideration in the decision-making process. (For more background on the matter, see my article “Radical Moves at Customs.“)
Díaz Leal is a civil engineer with a long career in government, including as director general of public works for the Mexico City administration.
He is also an active organizer of civil engineer organizations of former National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) graduates and an honorary member of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers and an emeritus member of the Mexican Civil Engineers College.
Pensions Improved, a Fence Mended
A new bill to improve the amount retirees receive at the end of their working life has been welcome by all, even though, like all bills, it is not perfect.
On Wednesday, July 22, AMLO said that the bill, presented in tandem with Business Coordinating Council (CCE) President Carlos Salazar Lomelín and Mexican Workers Confederation (CTM) labor leader Carlos Aceves del Olmo, brings back the potential of workers having a “dignified retirement pension,” which most Mexican wage-earners currently do not enjoy.
AMLO awarded “a little star” to Salazar Lomelín for leading the negotiations along with Aceves del Olmo.
Besides the good news for workers, AMLO hinted that he has mended fences with Salazar Lomelín, who for a while was tucked away into the National Palace’s political freezer.
The worst punishment for Salazar Lomelín was not being invited to the recent White House summit with U.S. President Donald Trump to celebrate the launching of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a trade pact in which the CCE was a top negotiator.
As soon as the bill is approved by both houses of Congress, Mexican workers will have to pay into the system for only 15 years, as opposed to 25 now, to be able to retire with 40 percent of their wages.
INE Councilors Elected
It was a rare sight at Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies to watch ever warrying political parties join in to vote in the four new National Electoral Institute (INE) councilors.
The final vote was 399 votes in favor, five against and five abstentions.
The new INE councilors are Norma de la Cruz Magaña, Carla Humphrey Jordán, José Martín Fernando Faz Mora and Uuk-Kib Espadas Ancona.
The key feature for them being selected from 390 candidates was that none of them have political party affiliations.
They will serve at the INE until 2029.
Presidential Plane Returns
The controversial presidential transport (TP-01) plane that was rejected by AMLO and put on the block for sale finally returned to Mexico after 19 months of maintenance and repairs in California.
The Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner was flown by Mexican Air Force personnel and placed on the airport tarmac at the presidential hangar.
AMLO said that on Monday, July 27, he will hold his daily press conference at the hangar, where he will offer details about a bid to buy the place for $120 million.
The plane originally cost $230 million when acquired 10 years ago by former President Felipe Calderón, but was used mostly by his successor, President Enrique Peña Nieto, for international outings.
Court Nixes Ancira Amparo
The Mexican Supreme Court of Justice turned down for analysis a request for habeas corpus (amparo) filed in Mexico by the lawyers of steel tycoon Alonso Ancira Elizondo.
None of the 11 judges admitted the case related to the allegedly fraudulent purchase of the fertilizer plant Agro Nitrogenados from Ancira Elizondo by the state-run oil interest Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex).
Ancira Elizondo is currently in Spain awaiting extradition and is slated to be tried in Mexico along with former Pemex Director Emilio Lozoya, who allegedly rigged the purchase that cost Pemex over $200 million in cash.
Lozoya Undergoes Surgery
Meanwhile, Emilio Lozoya is “spending time” at the plush Hospital Ángeles in southern Mexico City, where he allegedly underwent a stomach surgery.
Lozoya’s case is still the focus of major attention in the Mexican press regarding his alleged involvement in a corruption case with Brazilian construction company Odebrecht and his alleged participation in the receipt of $10 million.
AMLO said that once Lozoya is actually imprisoned, he will start confessing, with particular emphasis on the Enrique Peña Nieto administration, which allegedly paid bribes to congressional representatives to vote in favor of the now-nearly dismantled Energy Reform.
“He’s going to make clear whether the energy reform vote was bought,” AMLO said.
The Fiscal General of the Republic (FGR) has designated Lozoya as a “protected collaborator or witness.”
Water Conflict Eases
Chihuahua Governor Javier Corral Jurado announced a possible solution at the El Granero Dam conflict.
The damn was-slated to pump water into the Conchos and Grande Rivers to be used by Texas farmers in agreement in the binational Rio Grande water use accord.
Corral said his administration managed to mediate for the federal government with the Association of Irrigation Water Users of Chihuahua, convincing them authorize a release 16 cubic meters per second of water, instead of the 22 agreed upon under the bilateral accord.
There was, however, politics involved since the governor’s “arrangement” did not come until after the Federal Water Commission accused him of using farmers as “cannon fodder” to protest against the alleged imposition from the federal government.
The farmers were pitched against National Guard officers, who shot tear gas and rubber bullets at them to impede an invasion of the dam’s gates.
Covid-19 Traffic Light Discussed
Mexican Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero held a video-meeting with members of the National Governors’ Conference (Conago) to mediate discussions over the federal traffic light developed by the Health Secretariat to be used in opening or closing economic activities across Mexico’s 32 states.
The video-conference began at 1 p.m. on Thursday, July 23, with the participation of Health Secretary Jorge Carlos Alcocer Varela and several other cabinet members involved in the issue.
Conflicting opinions have arisen lately between the governors and Mexican covid-19 czar and epidemiologist Hugo López-Gatell as to how to go about opening the economy in each of the states.
López-Gatell also participated in the video gathering.
…July 24, 2020