By RICARDO CASTILLO
Red Alert for Three Kings’ Day
There could be no more powerful image over the Christmas and New Year holidays than the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) doctors working out of covid-laden patient wards telling everyone, “We don’t want to see you here. Please, stay home.”
Their pleas, however, fell on deaf ears.
On Tuesday, Jan. 5, parents — mainly in Mexico City — flocked to street markets and established shops to make last-minute purchases of toys for their children to celebrate Three Kings Day, as the date is known in Mexico.
In the New Testament translation of the Bible, the Three Kings are referred to as the Three Wise Men.
Regardless, the Kings are for Mexican children what Santa is to U.S. kids.
Catholic tradition considers it as a day to celebrate and bring to a happy ending the Lupe-Reyes (Dec. 12 to Jan. 6) Christmas period.
But Mexico’s capital city is in red alert because of the high covid-19 infection rate, meaning everyone except essential workers should stay home.
Mexico’s toy industry producers and vendors are currently burdened by a hefty surplus of unsold toy stocks and this was their last chance for a clearance of the excess products.
Mexican parents were well aware of this fact and price haggling was hot and heavy, but, with cash in hand, there was always a way to make a deal.
Nevertheless, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum has continued to warn that hospitals in capital are filled to the hilt and that large gatherings of people such as the ones usually on Three Kings’ Day are dangerous. She also warned of a potential surge in covid infections.
Today is supposed to be a day for happy kids, but with the pandemic, it is being celebrated in very dangerous times.
Let us hope for the best.
These are days of change in the Mexico-U.S. relationship as both nations are set to replace ambassadors.
In Mexico, it is expected that the Senate will approve the appointment of still-Public Education Secretary Esteban Moctezuma Barragán as the country’s new envoy to Washington.
He will replace retiring Ambassador Martha Bárcena, who, by the way, did not have the greatest of relations with her direct boss, Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard.
They were at odds on more than one front, a situation that will end once the Washington approves the appointment of Moctezuma.
Meanwhile, at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, everyone is wondering who will replace Ambassador Christopher Landau (although the appointment could take months, and usually does) and what kind of agenda the Joe Biden administration will have toward Mexico.
Landau is said by some pundits to be the greatest supporter of the Fourth Transformation (4T) government, as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) mandate is known.
In reality, though, the 4T Landau supports has been culinary in nature, based on his extensive travels throughout the country, savoring the flavors of different tamales, tacos, tostadas and Oaxaca tlayudas.
That too constitutes a support of Mexico’s 4T.
Ambassadors, Consuls Powwow
This week at the Secretariat of Foreign Relations (SRE) in Mexico City, the 32nd Reunion of Ambassadors and Consuls is taking place.
The big difference this year is that it is being held online and facing some serious problems as reports from SRE technicians are that the platform is crashing due to high attendance by Mexican embassies and consulates all over the world.
SRE Secretary Marcelo Ebrard welcomed all on Monday, as expected, trumpeting Mexico’s glory the world over.
Coparmex Tones Down its Rhetoric
On Jan. 1, José Medina Mora became the new president of the Mexican Employers Confederation (Coparmex), marking a new era of relations with the AMLO administration.
Medina Mora replaces Gustavo de Hoyos, who some critics say had turned the business federation into a political party with his daily attacks on López Obrador.
Unlike De Hoyos, Medina Mora has said he “will seek dialogue with the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador to confront the economic and sanitary crisis.”
“The government cannot solve all national problems by itself, so it is up to all of us to contribute in all we can,” he said.
That sounds like less politics, more business.
New Plastics Ban
After banning the use of plastic bags ¿at supermarkets and stores in 2020, the Mexico City government started the year with more plastic products banned from circulation.
The list includes plastic forks, knives, mixing and serving plates, drinking straws, cotton swabs (the swabs, not the cotton) balloons and balloon-holding sticks, glasses (cups) and their covers, trays for carrying food, tampon applicators, coffee capsules and products encased in plastics such as makeup and toothpaste.
Beverages in PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles are not forbidden.
Sanctions against infringers, mostly stores that sell these products, are in the making.
Remittances Are up Again
Dollar remittances from migrant workers in the United States to their families of Mexico for November 2020 amounted to $3.381 billion, up 15 percent comparted to November 2019, according to a as report from the Banco de Mexico (Banxico).
The accumulated figure for 2020 is up to $33.946 billion from January to November, representing an increase of 10.9 percent from the previous year.
The noisiest and most controversial electoral pick for governor has been at the majority National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero.
Internal flack against Morena President Mario Delgado has been heavy.
The final choice for candidate was former Acapulco Mayor Felix Salgado Macedonio.
His closest contender was Pablo Amílcar Sandoval, brother to Irma Eréndira Sandoval, Mexico’s secretary of public function.
What is curious about Salgado Macedonio’s pick was the fact that Amílcar is the brother-in-law of National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) law professor and gringo expat John Ackerman, who is married to Eréndira Sandoval.
Ackerman, a columnist for the leftwing La Jornada daily newspaper, has complained of foul play by Delgado, claiming his brother-in-law should have been the candidate.
But Morena’s Delgado has insisted that the poll carried out placed Salgado on top, a claim Ackerman is not buying.
In addition, Morena militants have insisted that there would be no nepotism nor cronyism in the party.
There have been many other complaints within Morena regarding who should have been candidates and against Delgado, but for now, the Guerrero candidacy is settled.
Good or bad? We will see on election day.
…Jan. 6, 2021