Mexico News Roundup
By RICARDO CASTILLO
Legal “Drug Cartel” Busted
One day after a fast track bill altering a federal government law was approved by the Senate, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Friday, July 31, oversaw the signing between the United Nations Office for Projects and Services (UNOPS) and the Public Health Secretariat of a $6.5 billion contract for the purchase of medicines, medical equipment and vaccines.
Mexican Health Secretary Jorge Alcocer said the contract allows for a consolidated purchase of pharmaceuticals for the country. The UNOPS will now be the international acquisitions agent for Mexico’s several public health institutions.
The document is considered by many Mexicans as representing an end to a feud between the AMLO administration and the pharmaceuticals manufacturing sector, represented mainly by alleged monopolies within the Mexican Association of Pharmaceuticals Laboratories (AMLF) and the National Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (Carnifarma), which controlled most drug supplies to government-operated hospitals.
Alcocer said that out of the 3,643 medications used by the national health system, now operated under the National Institute for Social Wellbeing (Insabi), nearly 2,000 can be acquired on international markets.
Mexican labs can continue to bid, but have to meet with “high quality levels and the honesty we demand,” Alcocer said.
In the bidding for government medication contracts, there is a list of delinquent companies, also known as “the oligopoly,” that controlled manufacturing and supplies in the past and are now forbidden to participate
UNOPS Mexico Director Fernando Cotrim Barbieri explained that the contract includes the first consolidated purchase for 2021, which will continue on a yearly basis.
“Mexico can now acquire pharmaceuticals from all over the world with good quality, low prices and no corruption,” AMLO said.
On Monday, July 27, AMLO displayed the presidential plane as a “pharaonic” $230 million presidential white elephant purchased by former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who later tweeted in response to López Obrador’s criticism of the posh 787 Boeing Dreamliner.
“Calderón bought it so that that (his successor, former President) Enrique Peña Nieto could use it,” AMLO said.
“The problem was that there were no news about this pharaonic purchase except for inevitable information on the issue. It bothered him (Calderón) that we exhibited the plane.”
A Clockwork Orange for CDMX
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheimbaun announced on Friday, July 31, that the city would remain under the preventive color orange for economic activities.
After the relaxing of the pandemic shutdown from red to orange, the number of covid-19 inflections in Mexico City increased dramatically, so there will be no further relaxation this coming week, she said.
Remember, the traffic lights are red, orange, yellow and green.
Governors at War with López Gatell
Nine opposition governors belonging to the Federalist Alliance demanded that Mexican Health Undersecretary Hugo López-Gatell, who has been the government’s point person on managing the covid-19 pandemic, “leave his post immediately.”
The governors blamed him for the nearly 47,000 deaths caused by the pandemic, which has catapulted the country into the dubious position of the third-largest death toll worldwide, right behind the United States and Brazil.
The governors said the “prescription” López.Gatell designed has wrought “terrible consequences” for the nation.
They also said that because of him, the crisis keeps growing instead of diminishing, and that the federal government has tried to scapegoat the state governments for noncompliance of the nonmandatory guidelines outlined by López-Gatell.
AMLO, who appointed López-Gatell as Mexico”s covid-19 czar, said he was happy with his performance.
INE on Elections
The new General Council of the National Electoral Institute (INE) approved the pending elections in the states of Coahuila and Hidalgo to be held on Oct. 18. The elections are to be held in compliance with health authorities’ recommendations.
Both state elections were programmed for last June 7, but were temporarily postponed due to the pandemic.
In Hidalgo, there will be a renewal of 84 municipal mayors, while in Coahuila the state assembly will hold elections for 16 deputies of relative majority and nine of proportional representation.
Given the high degree on crime-related events in the Mexican news, here’s a brief recount of some of the latest arrests and court proceedings:
In a raid led by the Mexican Army on Sunday, Aug. 2, notorious Guanajuato gangster José Antonio Yepes, nicknamed “El Marro” (“The Sledgehammer”), was arrested along with five of his henchmen. Arresting officers belonging to the state government’s Citizen Protection Office said they also rescued a woman from the Apaseo El Grande municipality who had been kidnapped by El Marro’s gang, the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel.
National Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo announced that El Marro and his cohorts will be transferred to the high security prison Altiplano located in Almoloya, in the State of Mexico.
Meanwhile, two former top federal cops, Luis Cárdenas Palomino and Ramón Eduardo Pequeño García, were charged in a federal court in Brooklyn, along with now-indictee and former national top security officer Genaro García Luna, with selling protection to the Sinaloa Drug Cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who has already been found guilty and imprisoned for life.
Proceedings for their extradition to the United States have not begun.
Former Chihuahua Governor César Duarte, how being held in Miami awaiting extradition, presented transcripts of conversations in which an unidentified member of the cabinet of current Governor Javier Corral acknowledges Corral is presently protecting drug runners.
Duarte presented this as “evidence” supporting as to why he should not be extradited to Mexico, where he said he faces a witch hunt from Corral.
Duarte was denied bail because he is considered a flight risk.
And Former Pemex Director Emilio Lozoya Austin was released from the Hospital Ángeles in Mexico City on Saturday, Aug. 1, after spending two weeks there for anemia and pharynx ailments.
Lozoya, now wearing an electronic tracking bracelet, is officially a prisoner of the Fiscal General of the Republic. He will face trial without being arrested under an arrangement in which he is a protected “contributing” witness.
On the same Saturday, Lozoya reported to “jail” via the internet.