By RICARDO CASTILLO
Cienfuegos, Talk of the Town
The release last week of former Mexican Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos from an imminent trial in the United States by U.S. Attorney General William Barr continues to be the talk of the day in Mexico.
The fact is is that nobody has the hard facts needed to have a sound opinion on the case.
Some claim the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents who put the case together screwed up and the U.S. Justice Department had to throw the case out.
Others claim that Barr and Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard struck a deal to release Cienfuegos in exchange for a promise to arrest a top crime kingpin. The question is that with an overabundance of kingpins in Mexico, which one would it be? The list is long.
One name that has been tossed around as a potential trade-off for Cienfuegos is that of Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) leader Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera Cervantes, since the CJNG is considered to be the most powerful drug cartel in the country.
But at this point, it is all speculation.
Behind it all is the 1992 bilateral agreement that specified that the United States would notify Mexico of sensitive investigations carried out, particularly by the DEA in Mexico.
The Cienfuegos arrest came suddenly while the former general, now a civilian, was on his way to take his grandchildren to Disneyland.
Another rumor about Cienfuegos’ release is that the Mexican Army (Sedena) threatened to stop all collaboration with the 30 or so DEA agents operating out of the U.S. Embassy and regional stations investigating drug trafficking.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has flatly denied that this is the case.
As for Mexico using DEA evidence against Cienfuegos in a trial, forget it, Mexican law bans evidence acquired illegally by foreign agents.
Once again, the DEA probably screwed up, but not because they are bad investigators, but because after decades of operating in Mexico, they still show no respect for Mexican legal institutions.
Arrogance killed this cat.
Marijuana Bill Questioned
Expectations were high that the marijuana legalization bill passed by the Senate on Thursday, Nov. 19, and currently on it way for approval by the Chamber of Deputies would be questioned mostly by conservative political parties. That is not the case.
As it turns out, the many pro-grass organizations that originally promoted the passage of the bill at the Senate staged a demonstration to protest the bill, which they claim does not meet with the verdict issued by the Supreme Court ordering legislation on the 100-year-old (from 1920) law declaring marijuana illegal.
Though in agreement with legalization, these plaintiffs claim that the proposed Senate bill is more of a tax-garnering program than a legalization scheme.
Moreover, they say, the bill does not include what users have demanded, which is the decriminalization of recreational marijuana use.
The bill must be approved no later than Dec. 15 and go into effect on Jan. 1.
On Private Investment
Once again, private investors in Mexico claimed they have the billions, but are not investing because they do not trust the “uncertainty” created under the López Obrador administration to secure a gainful path to profits.
At last week’s 17th Annual Convention of the Mexican Institute of Finance Executives, the president’s chief-of-staff, Alfonso Romo, said: “Private investors need to plan on the medium and long range, and for that. they need certainty. We may change the rules of the game, but once changed they have to remain and be transparent.”
Romo said that, under current economics, private investment represents 87 percent of the money circulating in Mexico, but backed the investors’ stance that they are withholding investments because they do not trust the administration.
Romo criticized the president’s handling of the economy, claiming, “We cannot manage a nation that is operating at a minus 9 percent of the gross domestic product as if it were growing at 9 percent.”
Observers claimed that Romo just signed his resignation letter from his post as presidential chief-of-staff.
Nevertheless, attending entrepreneurs stated the money to invest is there, particularly now, when new opportunities created by the pandemic are arisings, but they need “legal certainty,” whatever that means, since investments are secure, but not without paying taxes.
Peso Keeps Gaining Ground
Dollar speculators must be frustrated since on as Friday, Nov. 20, the once-badly devalued Mexican peso closed at 20.15 to the dollar in one of the finest currency exchange performances in the past three years.
Analysts forecast that the peso could strengthen even further and that, once the “20-peso psychological barrier” is torn down, the peso could regain its pre-pandemic value.
According to some meta-analysis forecasters, the peso could reach 1,94 to the dollar this week.
On Friday, Nov. 20, as part of the Mexican Revolution celebrations, AMLO handed out the 2020 National Sports Prize, both to former baseball star Fernando “El Toro” Valenzuela and tennis player Renata Zarazúa.
López Obrador, a baseball lover, issued the award to Valenzuela for his lifetime “trajectory” as a major league star pitcher with the LA Dodgers, while Zarazúa was recognized because she became the first female Mexican tennis player to advance to a second round in the French Roland Garros tourney.
Canto Passes Away
Ernesto Canto, the Mexican 20-kilometer-walk gold medalist from the 1984 Los Angeles U.S. Olympics, passed away on Friday, Nov. 20, after an arduous battle with cancer, the Mexican Olympic Committee announced.
Canto was 61 years old.
Canto also won the 1983 Helsinki World Athletics Championship, among many others international specialty competitions.
…Nov. 23, 2020