Mexico News Roundup
By RICARDO CASTILLO
AMLO and Governors Powwow
Mexico’s 32 governors are giddying up to meet on Wednesday, Aug. 19, with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) in San Luis Potosí.
Previous to the in-person summit, a group of 10 governors known as the Federalist Alliance video conferenced on Saturday, Aug. 15, to outline a plan of discussion with the president.
The bottom line problem beleaguering the Federalist Alliance representatives is the fact that the pandemic caught everyone off guard and states, up until now, have had to use their own budgets to finance the rash of unexpected public health expenditures caused by covid-10, which has dramatically increased poverty nationwide.
To date, Mexico’s poor have borne the brunt of the nation’s ever-surging covid-19 pandemic.
Low income earners not only make up the highest share of virus-related deaths in Mexico, but also suffer a lack of funds to stay afloat as the pandemic continues to plunge the country deeper into recession.
State governments have struggled to respond to the crisis in providing medical services and other financial assistance to the growing hordes of poor.
Since the pandemic began in Mexico in March, soup kitchens have reported serving about 20 percent, according to the country’s National Social Inclusion and Welfare Agency.
The meeting with AMLO is strategically slated to take place before the upcoming congressional budget meet.
The governors in the pre-meet represented the states of Guanajuato, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, Michoacán, Colima, Jalisco, Aguascalientes, Chihuahua, Durango and Coahuila.
At one point, these 10 behaved with great adamancy toward AMLO, but, seemingly, now they are willing to negotiate in tandem and not in opposition against the president.
In their initial agreement, they decided to work to strengthen the 32 state health systems with federal funds, and come to terms on a national agreement for a fast and secure economic reactivation, with equitable funds distribution.
AMLO is expected to bring his entire cabinet to the national summit in order to have his secretaries help define a course of action to follow for the nation next year.
During his daily press conference on Friday, Aug. 14, in Acapulco, AMLO said that he hoped to use his good relationship with national mining union leader Senator Napoleón Gómez Urrutia to solve the 13-year old strike in the Taxco, Guerrero, silver mine.
AMLO said that he wants to get Gómez Urrutia in touch with Group México mine owner Germán Larrea.
Gómez Urrutia even went further than the president to suggest that once he meets with Larrea, he would also like to mediate a solution at the Canine copper mine and the gold and silver mine in Sombrerete, Zacatecas.
A key issue, lest we forget, is the fact that these two fellows have been at each other’s throats for most of the 20th century.
In fact, in the past, Gómez Urrutia had to flee the country to Canada to escape being jailed on an alleged $55 million dollar swindle of union funds, while Larrea relentlessly carried out a legal persecution against him.
Will AMLO actually be able to bring these two bitter enemies to the negotiating table
Police Chief Wanted
Mexico City underwent a minor crisis two weeks ago when Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum literally ordered Chief of Police Jesús Orta Martínez to turn in his resignation after the Fiscal General of the Republic (FGR) notified him that he was under criminal investigation.
Orta Martínez had no choice but to resign.
Orta now has an arrest warrant pending against him for the alleged embezzlement of 2.5 billion pesos during the time he worked for the now-defunct Federal Police.
The FGR also issued arrest warrants for 19 more former Federal Police officials.
The investigation of the swindle was by the Federal Comptroller who in turn issued results of an audit to the FGR.
An irony in the Orta Martínez case is that he filed for a habeas corpus (amparo) protection under federal law, but the district judge in the case said he could not issue one because the request did not specify which one of many charges he has been slapped with.
In addition, Sheinbaum has ordered an audit of resources at the Mexico City Citizens Security Secretariat, where Orta Martínez was once budget manager.
Junk Food Feud
After the state of Oaxaca recently approved a bill banning the sale of junk food and sugar-laden beverages to minors, the industry went mum.
In the meantime, half a dozen other state governments and Mexico City are considering similar bills to prevent child obesity and even diabetes.
About the only voice from the business community censoring the anti-junk food bills is that of National Agribusiness Council president Bosco de la Vega Valladolid.
De la Vega said that the bill and ensuing ones constitute laws against individual liberties because they tell you what to eat and what to not eat, posing a blunt attack on personal freedoms on business because “people are going to buy less and that will hurt profits.”
Meanwhile, the issue on product labeling of junk food is stalled in Congress, probably until next December.
Billions for Political Parties
The National Electoral Institute (INE) announced a budget for political parties worth 5.239 billion pesos.
The budget is allotted based on results of membership registration, and heading the list of recipients is the majority National Regeneration Movement (Morena), which will receive 1.71 billion pesos, followed by the National Action Party (PAN), slated to get 1.239 billion pesos.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) will receive 888 million pesos, the Labor Party (PT) will get 384 million pesos, the Green Environmentalist Party (PVEM) will receive 418 million pesos and the Citizens Movement will receive 403 million pesos.
Finally, the Party of the Democratic Revolution will get 438 million.
San Miguel Goes Orange
Tourists began to trickle back into the central Mexican colonial town of San Miguel de Allende as municipal authorities lifted the covid-19 pandemic lockdown alert from red to orange.
Municipal authorities demand that everyone – locals and visitors – wear a mouth cover while transiting the streets, and restaurants and hotels are limited to 30 percent of their normal capacities.
This is the first time since March 20, when the entire city went in lockdown, that people can flow freely on the cobble-stoned streets.
…Aug. 17, 2020