By RICARDO CASTILLO
Ominous Holiday Warning
After expert epidemiologists forecast an ominous surge of covid-19 infections for January, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) issued a public call on Friday, Dec. 4, for people to avoid attending traditional holiday “posadas” gatherings, which usually begin in mid-December and run through Christmas Eve, and to stay home as much as possible to avoid contagion.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum echoed that call on Saturday, Dec. 5, during her annual State of the City Address.
“I want to thank the president for his reflection and the call he made to city dwellers given the complicated situation Mexico City is currently undergoing,” she said.
The city now has nearly 230,000 confirmed covid cases and nearly 14,000 deaths from the disease, according to government sources.
Notwithstanding, the fact remains that thousands of Mexico City residents continue to ignore the government warnings and are expected to congregate in large groups during the Christmas holidays.
In his message, AMLO said, “we have been talking to healthcare specialists and nurses, and they have been working overtime (to attend covid patients).”
“They are very fatigued and need a chance to rest,” he said.
“We are all emotionally overburdened by this tragedy, and, come January, it will only get worse.”
Message to the DEA
AMLO sent a bill to the Mexican Senate last week demanding the regulation of activities of “foreign agents” in Mexico.
According to the head of the Senate’s Political Coordination Junta (Jucopo), Ricardo Monreal, the bill contains amendments to be attached to the National Security Law, which would limit foreign agent activities strictly to duties within the framework of bilateral cooperation and would stick to the exchange of garnered information with Mexican authorities.
The bill was a clear response to the controversy that ensued after former Mexican Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos was arrested in the United States in October without Mexico’s previous knowledge, and a loud-and-clear message to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents working out of the U.S. Embassy and its consulates to not overstep their duties and perform as law enforcers.
If approved, the bill will also defrock the agents from immunity in case they “infringe upon norms that prohibit foreign persons the exercise of functions reserved for Mexican authorities.”
The Mexican Chamber of Deputies continues suspension on the expected approval of a bill regulating personnel outsourcing practices.
At the National Palace, discussions between the president and business leaders have been constant on the drafting of the bill.
After leaving the National Palace last week following a round of those discussions, Business Coordinating Council (CCE) leader Carlos Salazar Lomelín said bluntly, “we haven’t yet reached an agreement on any issue.”
“We still do not know exactly what measures will be taken and the most important issue, what measures will be allowed and which will not,” he said.
“I think that this is going to be cleared up next week.”
National Industrial Confederation (Concamin) President Francisco Cervantes added that Mexican business owners are demanding at least a six-month grace period to make the transition from personnel outsourcing to insourcing.
S&P Gives Pemex Credit Rating OK
After two years of threats and verbal onslaughts, the international credit rating company Standard & Poor’s (S&P) suddenly issued a bit of good news for the Mexican state-owned oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex).
S&P said the company’s debt, $107 billion, was sustainable since and its the credit rating in dollars would remain at BBB, that is, solid.
According to S&P, a BBB ratings indicates adequate protection parameters, but warns that adverse economic conditions or changing circumstances are more likely to weaken the obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitments on that obligation
“We consider the (Mexican) government will sustain its support (of Pemex), as it did through 2019 and 2020, and that the company will continue to have market access and banking funding to refinance its short-term debt dues,” the S&P said in a news release issued Friday, Dec. 4.
Maya Train Permit
Mexico’s Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat (Semarnat) issued a “conditional” permit to the National Tourism Fostering Fund (Fonatur) to go head and build the first leg of the Tren Maya tourist train in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Fonatur, Semarnat said, must still obtain use-of-soil permits for a surface of 1,600 acres of forested land.
It also must abide by the agreements made during the 2019 consultation with the native Maya people.
This was the final hurdle for the project.
Mexico’s conservative National Action Party (PAN) national council approved on Friday, Dec. 4, with 243 votes in favor, 14 against and four abstentions, joining forces with its lifelong political enemy, the central Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the once-leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) to post candidates for the Chamber of Deputies races in 2021.
This union of unlikely bedfellows was made possible by financial support offered by Mexican tycoon Claudio X. González Guajardo, who will have a say on candidate selection in some 120 districts.
PAN President Marko Cortés said that before the vote he’d consulted with all party members as to the feasibility of this happening.
“Most agreed,” he said.
The ultimate goal is to gain a majority in the Chamber of Deputies during the June 6 midterm elections.
Protesting PAN Senator Damián Zepeda called the decision “an historic error.”
The coalition will not include candidacies in the states of Coahuila, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Morelos, Querétaro, Tamaulipas and Yucatán (most of them staunch PAN and PRI turf), because in these states, the local parties opted to go it alone in the electoral fray since they feel they are already highly competitive.
López Obrador, who for years has “insulted” the PRI and the PAN by saying “they are one and the same,” and who often mockingly calls them “PRIAN,” declared the union an “unholy alliance.”
“I think this alliance will affect them all,” AMLO said.
“I shouldn’t be saying this but, I won’t deny to anyone. Imagine that those who kept insisting that the PRI, the PAN and, now, the PRD, were all different. Now they are all together!”
Morena Concludes Registration
A total of 150 political hopefuls registered to contend as candidates for Mexico’s majority National Regenerations Movement (Morena) for the 15 governor seats open in the midterm election.
In accordance with the party’s gender equality proposal, of the contenders, 56 are women and 94 men.
The election will be held through a poll in each of the states.
Morena President Mario Delgado said he was proud of the way the “democratic” way contenders behaved, since the registration was open to all party members and sympathizers wishing to participate.
…Dec. 7, 2020