By RICARDO CASTILLO
It will come as no surprise for most people in Mexico that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) Electricity Reform Bill was approved by the Chamber of Deputies, as programmed by Congress’ majority rule, now in the hands of the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) political party, and will now head to the Senate.
If AMLO gets his way, the bill will pass the Senate exactly as it passed the House of Deputies:”without changing a single comma” of how he wrote it, as per his orders.
Still, there were last cries of protest before the vote by industrial chamber members.
One last opposition gasp came from Juan Manuel Chaparro, president of the Industrial Fostering Committee at the National Manufacturing Industry Chamber (Canacintra), who on Tuesday, Feb. 23, raised the same complaint that we’ve heard on the issue for the months the bill has been under debate.
“The establishment of restrictions, regulations or government-sponsored initiatives regarding the participation of private capital in the different productive sectors of the nation — and. in particular. the energy sector — has provoked a high degree of inhibition to invest in our country, be it from national or foreign investors,” he said.
Manufacturing industrials wanted AMLO to abandon the bill, which will reverse the rule over feeding the national electrical grid first from privately produced energy and second with the one produced by the state-run Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).
The bill, the Canacintra leader said, will not only inhibit investment but also bring about higher costs for consumers and contaminate the environment.
But AMLO has insisted that it will do the exact opposite and has strongly “suggested” that the Senate vote “aye” on its passage.
A Grecian Urn
During his daily press conference at the National Palace on Tuesday, Feb. 23, AMLO complained about the United Nations’ Covax ordinance, intended to ensure access to covid-19 vaccines by poorer nations.
AMLO said that it is obvious that richer nations are monopolizing vaccine sales, purchasing the drugs before they are even produced.
“The UN must intervene because the (Covax Facility) now looks like a Grecian urn,” AMLO said.
“It’s there just to look pretty, but to accomplish nothing. The Covax ordinance is an agreement that must be enforced. This is something that the majority of nations agree upon.”
During the same press conference, Mexican Public Health Secretary Jorge Alcocer said that, as of Monday, Feb. 22, Mexico had inoculated 1,733,404 people with the vaccine, with 425,217 vaccines going to frontline covid-19 healthcare personnel, representing about 70 percent of all eligible medical employees.
The rest of the vaccines were administered to seniors, a priority target of Mexico’s national vaccination program.
AMLO has promised that Mexico has contracted enough vaccines to inoculate its entire populatioo.
On a sidebar issue, the government’s Official Gazette on Monday published a decree freeing all anti-covid19 vaccines of import tariffs.
Argentine President Visits Mexico
Argentine President Alberto Fernández arrived in Mexico on Sunday, Feb. 21, for a three-day visit.
On Tuesday, Feb. 23, he met with AMLO at the National Palace, where the two leaders held a protocol ceremony, followed by a joint press conference.
Fernández, a leftist Peronist who took office in December 2019 for a four-year term and has since faced severe challenges on the health and economic fronts, said that “Argentina and Mexico should face the future together (in order to help the rest of) Latin America.”
“From the northernmost country of Latin America to the most southern one, we have to be competent enough to lay an axel for the entire continent,” he said.
“That’s the duty we have to face.”
Fernández also took the opportunity to ladle praise on his Mexican counterpart.
Mexico and Argentina are currently working together in producing AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine, with Argentina producing the medication and Mexico putting it into vials.
El Chapo’s Wife Tanked
Emma Coronel Aisporo, the wife of notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, was arrested on Monday, Feb. 21, at Dulles Airport in Washington DC.
She was arraigned the following day and was “temporarily” denied bail by Federal Court Judge Robin Meriweather.
Coronel is being charged with “conspiracy” to distribute illegal drugs in the United States.
Though the case against her was put together by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the arrest was carried out by FBI agents given the recent mishap of the release of Mexican General Salvador Cienfuegos.
In Mexico, AMLO said his administration will not intervene in the Coronel trial case. (It did intervene adamantly in the case of Cienfuegos.)
In a separate charge, Coronel is being charged with masterminding an escape plot for her husband, who is now serving a life sentence in the United States, but this charge, may not be valid in a U.S. court since it happened in Mexico
Coronel, 31 and mother of two girls with El Chapo, is now being detained at an Alexandria, Virginia, detention center, to await further hearings.
Mexican mining tycoon Alberto Bailleres announced Tuesday, Feb. 23, that his privately owned oil pumping company Petrobal will begin selling oil to state-owned oil monopoly Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) with an average of 20,000 barrels of crude a day.
Petrobal will be the second privately owned company pumping oil in Mexico, in accordance with past legislation that temporarily opened up the Pemex monopoly to private investors.
Mexican Tennis Open
Mexican Tennis Open organizer Raúl Zurutuza announced that this year game star Rafael Nadal will not be on the players’ roster due to “an injury.”
Nadal played in the Mexican Open in 2017, 2019 and 2020, and charges an average of half a million dollars per appearance.
Actually, later Zurutuza admitted the organizing committee had to let go of Nadal simply because they could not afford him and that, in fact, the entire event is in peril if Acapulco municipal authorities do not authorize public attendances, which mean a source of immediate cash for the organizing committee, part of the Professional Tennis Association.
Still, the tournament, which is slated to be held at the Princess Hotel in Acapulco from March 15 through 20, will have a number of international stars, such as Germany’s Alex Zverev, Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas (Australia Open semifinalist) and the up-and-coming Argentinian star Diego Schwartzman.
Zurutuza, asked how the open could afford an expensive player like Zverev, said, “The reason he’s still coming is because we had a contract signed with him, and it would have been more expensive to cancel it than paying him the agreed upon fee.”
…Feb. 24, 2021