By RICARDO CASTILLO
Pop the Champagne
Oh là là! The French are not coming to Mexico; they are already here!
Definitely, the phone call on Tuesday, Jan. 26, between the new U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard was one of peers.
Namely, with a last name like Ebrard you can never deny, or even try to hide, your French descent.
But make no mistake: In Mexico, Marcelo is seen as a hard core “chilango” (Mexico City native).
Blinken, on the other hand, a New Yorker by birth has dubbed as “a Parisian in America” (a play on George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), given his French education.
Be that as it may, in their phone call, Blinken and Ebrard in, according to Blinken’s spokesman Ned Price, “emphasized our shared interest in security and economic integration, as well as our focus on an orderly and humane approach to migration.”
Blinken told Ebrard one of U.S. President Joe Biden’s priorities is the inevitable, nearly 200-year-old diplomatic relationship between Mexico and the United States, with future regional integration of North America already underway.
The only question remaining from their conversation is, who will be the next U.S. ambassador to Mexico?
CureVac Vaccines Arrives
And while we are on Ebrard, a container tanker full of the German CureVac covid vaccine arrived in Mexico Wednesday, Jan. 27.
The vaccine, which so far has been shown to have an 89 percent efficiency rate, is in the Phase 3 trial stage that is required by international health authorities to be approved.
This time around, Mexico will be the testing ground of CureVac, which earlier this month partnered with the giant German drug maker Bayer.
Ebrard pointed out that the testing will be carried out in Mexico City, Querétaro, Guadalajara and Monterrey.
Mexico, he noted, is now the only nation in Latin America carrying out Phase 3 testing of four different vaccine brands, as CureVac joins already-underway trials of the Chinese CanSino, the U.S. Johnson & Johnson single-jab JNJ-78436735, and, of course, the controversial Russian Sputnik V vaccines.
At a moment when Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is aiming at wiping out several “autonomous” but influential non-government organizations, the Federal Commission for Economic Competition (Cofece) is being targeted as the next on line to disappear in his government downsizing efforts.
In AMLO’s eyes, the Cofece is what he calls “part of the mafia” of previous administrations since it failed to fine delinquent banks Barklay’s Bank, Deutsche Bank, Santander, Banamex, Bank of America, BBVA Bancomer and J. P. Morgan.
These institutions were accused of white-collar criminality on the grounds of an alleged palpable, and juridically probable, collusion between themselves and money traders to evade paying taxes.
AMLO claims that the Cofece should have fined the banking group for as much as 680 million pesos, but it did not.
But at this point, the culprits are not the alleged law-infringing banks, but Cofece Director Alejandra Palacios, who has already been summoned by the Senate to explain the lack of authority shown before the banks.
She has to explain the purported sacking and her own alleged tax-evading,in the government’s view.
Is the Cofece under threat of disappearance due to alleged corruption? You bet.
Interior Secretary (SeGob) Olga Sánchez Cordero began issuing religious practice freedom permits to a whopping 61 new churches, tallying the nation’s total up to 9,619 different religious organizations.
Sánchez Cordero said the government oversees these permits through a SeGob office called Democratic Development, Social Participation and Religious Matters – headed by former Deputy Rabindranath Salazar – to keep church-related gatherings orderly.
True to Mexico’s Christian affiliation, the new “associations” are mostly Protestant groups that may have a national organization, but have to register each individual church separately.
Among Christian organizations announcing new worship sites are the International Association of Christian Churches, City Impact Church Mexico, Pentecostal Milk and Honey, Evangelic Pentecostal Church and several other groups that are clearly on an expansion binge.
One thing is certain: Mexico may not be as it was 20 or 30 years ago, exclusively for Catholics, but definitely. it is a haven for the word of Jesus Christ, be it in Catholic or Protestant manifestations.
Golf Wars in Tijuana
In case you are not familiar with Tijuana, let me make a small description of the two main avenues right in the middle of town.
Actually, the town starts at the U.S. border crossing with Avenida Revolución, which is still the glitzy part of town.
At the end of Revolución, there is an old-fashion, Hollywood-style structure of the Jai Alai casino. Lo
Then the street turns from north to east to become the Aguascalientes Boulevard, famous for its golf club, a horse race track and a high-rise set of hotels.
Of the iconic buildings of Old Tijuana, from back in the 1930s, when it became a gaming emporium, the largest of the properties is, no doubt, the 100-acre, 18-hole Club Campestre Golf Club, stuck right in the middle of town.
So what about it, you might rightly ask?
Well, Baja California Governor Jaime Bonilla, a Tijuana native, carried out a poll asking if the golf grounds should be converted from its still-current “exclusive” social club status into “a public social project, for families, sports, recreational and culture-“
The result was that 77 percent of the populatin voted for his idea, while 23 percent voted against.
“The Campestre will no longer be exclusive for the few,” Bonilla said.
The one problem Bonilla faces on this issue is that the Club Campestre is private property and indeed an “exclusive” for members and guests only.
For now, it’s just a proposal, but the club’s owners have already started a legal battle over the property, which is prime real estate in Tijuana.
…Jan. 29, 2021
CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this article, Pulse News Mexico incorrectly referred to Aguacaliente Boulevard as Aguascalientes Boulevard. Pulse News Mexico regrets the error.