Mexico News Roundup
By RICARDO CASTILLO
Banxico Law Postponement
The Mexican Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday, Dec. 15, announced it was postponing the debate on the Bank of Mexico (Banxico) Bill approved last week by the Senate until February.
Deputies Chamber President Laura Rojas made the announcement on social media after the majority National Regeneration Movement (Morena) insisted on discussing and voting on the controversial bill Tuesday.
The Chamber’s Treasury Committee confirmed the bill discussion stalling later in the day.
The bill, pushed forward by Senator Ricardo Monreal, would have required Banxico purchase all remaining foreign currency to add it to the international reserves.
The bill, however, was first lambasted by several members of the Banxico Board of Directors, who foresaw that by forcing Central Bank to purchase dollars that were not sent to the United States, it would expose the independent organism to targeting by money launderers.
This would also mean that Mexico would be penalized by international money organizations as a money-laundering haven.
The Mexican Bankers Association also questioned the bill passed by the Senate and supported Banxico’s opposition to it.
One of Banxico’s board members, economist Jonathan Heath, said this law was designed to benefit only “one bank,” and that is Banco Azteca, which operates out of the Elektra furniture stores.
Ironically, the only one defending the bill is Banco Azteca owner Ricardo Salinas Pliego.
Ruling National Regeneration Movement (Morena) legislators called Heath’s comments “an exaggeration,” but were persuaded to accept the discussion postponement.
AMLO Congradulates Biden, Finally
It is no big news to hear that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) got bombarded with criticism on whatever is the issue of the day happens to be.
And it was no different with him finally recognizing the electoral victory of Democratic candidate Joe Biden to the presidency of the United States.
For AMLO’s critics, this recognition came 38 days too late since López Obrador waited until the U.S. Electoral College announced Biden’s victory on Monday, Dec. 14.
AMLO, however, withstood the criticism and stood his ground for as long as necessary.
On Tuesday, Dec. 15, he made public a personal letter he sent to Biden.
Here is a rough translation of some excerpts from that letter:
“I am writing this text to congratulate you on the victory awarded to you by the people (of the United States) and countersigned by the electoral authorities of the United States of America.
“As you know, we met nine years ago and back then I expressed, in person and through a letter, my ideas for transforming Mexico and the objective of banishing political corruption, the main cause of painful inequality(in Mexico) and the violence from which we suffer.”
“I also express to you my recognition of your position in favor of migrants from Mexico and the world, which will allow us to continue the plan to promote the development and wellbeing of the states of southeastern Mexico and the Central American nations. I consider this to be the path to prevent people from abandoning their place of origin and to live, work and live happy with their families in their own cultures, as this is the way to construct a definite solution to the migrant flows that come through Mexico to the United States.”
“I hope that soon, Señor Biden, we will share the opportunity to speak about this and other matters. In the meantime, I reiterate my congratulations and wish you the best of luck for the good of your people and our nations. Please receive my affectionate greetings.”
Martha Bárcena Retires
Mexican Ambassador to the United States Martha Bárcena announced that she will soon be retiring from 43 years of diplomatic service.
“My stint in the United States has been completed and it was a stage in which I have served my president and, above all, my country with fidelity and loyalty,” she said.
“It is time to move into another stage of my life.””
Bárcena was the first Mexican woman to be named ambassador to the United States.
Gil Zuarth Investigated
Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (FGR) announced that it is investigating the finances of former National Action Party (PAN) Senator Roberto Gil Zuarth.
Gil Zuarth stands accused of taking bribes from former Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) Director Emilio Lozoya.
Thus far, the FGR office said, it has officially requested information about the former senator’s bank accounts from the National Banking and Stock Market Commission.
Gil Zuarth was immediately obtained and granted a habeas corpus protection (amparo) to put a halt on the investigation, a normal legal protective move in Mexico.
Lozoya has claimed that the former senator sold his vote to him in favor of then-Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Energy Reform.
Interest Rate Stable
When Banxico’s Board of Directors meets on Thursday, Dec. 17, it will most likely not move the prevailing 4.25 percent interest rate, a phone poll carried by news agency Reuters indicated.
According to the poll, 18 of 23 finance analysts queried on the issue felt that there will be no change, while the remaining five forecast a new drop of .25 percent, down to a flat 4 percent.
The Mexican economy grew by 12.1 percent during the third quarter and inflation stayed low.
“The Mexican economy is reactivated and does not need increased monetary support,” said Moody’s Analytics representative for Latin America Alfredo Coutiño.
Senate Approves Security Bill
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents will be restrained and will only “serve as liaisons” under the revamped National Security Bill approved by both houses of the Mexican Congress Tuesday, Dec. 16.
The new bill demands “foreign agents” inform Mexican authorities of their findings, as well as ´proving for the creation of a High Level Security Group in charge of security cooperation agreements.
Without naming them, the new limitations specified in the bill target DEA activities after the arrest last October of former Defense Secretary General Salvador Cienfuegos in Los Angeles.
Mexican legislators felt the DEA should have informed Mexican authorities of the investigation and ensuing arrest.
After protests in Mexico, Cienfuegos had to be released, much to the chagrin of arresting officers, all DEA agents.
The changes aim, according to Mexican deputies, “to protect our sovereignty.”