By RICARDO CASTILLO
Salina Cruz Pier Expanded
Notwithstanding a myriad of problems still left to be resolved in the construction of the Inter-Oceanic Train Corridor at the Tehuantepec Isthmus, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) inaugurated the first leg of the project, constituting an extension of the docking pier at the Salina Cruz port.
AMLO said the dock would allow for the movement of cargo containers coming from Asia into the corridor, which, when completed, will end at the Gulf of Mexico Coatzacoalcos port, 300 kilometers away overland.
“Take into consideration that all our economic and trade with the United States and Mexico is coming from the northern border and we still do not have good transportation communication with the Pacific,” AMLO said during the opening of the now-123-meter-long pier.
The plan includes the construction of 10 industrial parks along the corridor, which are still being negotiated since many of them are in communal ejido lands with all the legal problems that renting them implies.
The Salina Cruz dock expansion is the first of AMLO’s promised projects “delivered on time.”
Covid-19 and the Economy
Mexico’s economic activity dropped by 21.6 percent in May, according to the latest annual study carried out by the Global Economic Activity Indicator (IGAE), a branch of the National Institute for Statistics and Geography (Inegi.)
This was the steepest drop in Mexican productivity for the 13th month in a row.
According to the indicator, the common commerce and trade services dropped by 29.7 percent.
In contrast, key activities, such as agribusiness, maintained a steady growth steady on 2.5 percent, showing no change since May 2019.
The study illustrated that the main problem was the nearly total lockdown of economic activities due to the covid-19 pandemic.
The closure of bars, gyms and popular entertainment centers had a high impact on the drop in economic activity.
New Maritime Chief
Changes at Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT) continued unabated last week as AMLO named Mexico City Government secretary Rosa Icela Rodríguez Velázquez as the new head of the SCT Coordination of Ports and Merchant Marine.
The change is the second after SCT Secretary Javier Jiménez Espriú turned in his resignation to AMLO in disagreement over what he labeled as the “militarization of ports.”
Rodríguez Velázquez replaces Héctor López Ortega at the ports coordination administration office as Navy officials will undertake this responsibility starting next week as the major ports of Manzanillo and Lázaro Cárdenas on the Pacific, sites which are believed to be a major source of drug trafficking from Asia.
Outrage within the National Action Party (PAN)
Mexico’s conservative National Action Party (PAN) issued a long press release on Friday, July 24, denying allegations made in a publication in various newspapers of accusations made by former Pemex Director Emilio Lozoya Austin, who is now under house arrest Emilio Lozoya Austin.
Lozoya Austin allegedly said that he gave kickbacks to PAN members in 2013, when the party was in control of the Chamber of Deputies.
“Whoever makes accusations of this kind have the obligation to prove them,” the PAN press release said.
“Up until now these (accusations) are the claims of an alleged criminal who is accusing adversaries of the federal government in order to save his own skin.”
According to information published by the conservative, often pro-PAN daily Reforma, and echoed by the leftwing newspaper La Jornada, former Treasury Secretary Luis Videgaray – then Lozoya’s boss – allegedly paid bribes to then-PAN Deputy Whip Luis Alberto Villarreal García (now San Miguel de Allende municipal mayor) and former presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya as political kickbacks to vote for former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Energy Reform.
“Whatever is being said by Lozoya is a distraction and smoke screen for the failure of the López Obrador administration in Mexico’s economy, with the growing unemployment, the dismal performance before the covid-19 and the deaths that could have been prevented, as well as its failure in combatting insecurity,” the press release said.
Regardless of the outraged PAN reactions, Lozoya Austin remains hospitalized under government guard and has as yet made no public accusation.
But what does the PAN have to fear if the allegations are just newspaper gossip?
PT After PRI
Even during the pandemic, Mexican politics keep on moving.
This past week, Social Encounter Party and National Regeneration Movement (Morena) Deputies María Rosete and Samuel Calderón Medina made their respective moves to join the radical left Labor Party (PT), which now boasts 43 deputies.
The move comes at a time when the third-place Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), with 46 member deputies, is gearing up to take over the presidency of the Chamber of Deputies come September.
The PT has increased its number of deputies from 36 to 43 in just two months and is now stepping on PRI heels to become the third political force in Congress.
Even with a one-vote loss, Morena is still in the majority with a 252 deputies.
—July 27, 2020