By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
From Fuel Thief to Candidate
The former head of Mexico’s left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in the northern state of Tamaulipas, Miguel Ángel Almaraz Maldonado, who was arrested in 2009 by the Federal Attorney General’s Office for allegedly working with the Zetas organized crime group to steal oil from the state-run oil giant Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), is now running as a candidate for the conservative National Action Party (PAN) for the mayorship of Río Bravo.
Currently, Almaraz is promoting himself on social media with a campaign in which he describes himself as a “dogged defender of justice, generous in victory and elegant in defeat.”
And over the course of the last few weeks, he has been courting potential voters with a long list of “generous” gifts of foodstuffs, raffle giveaways and street repair programs through a Tamaulipas humanitarian aid organization.
But Almaraz Maldonado’s police blotter is even longer, having served six years in prison on charges of illicit fuel theft activities in the adjacent state of Nayarit.
He was first arrested in 11 years ago on a slew of charges.
But after years of legal litigations, in 2015, a local judge absolved Almaraz Maldonado for his alleged crimes, claiming that there was not sufficient evidence to continue the proceedings against him.
At the time, Almaraz Maldonado returned to Río Bravo and took up a career as a used car salesman, where he managed to again get arrested, this time for allegedly selling crooked license plates for cars illegally imported from the United States.
Again, the charges were eventually dropped, and Almaraz Maldonado returned to his interests in politics.
On Monday, the PAN is expected to register Almaraz Maldonado before the Tamaulipas Electoral Institute.
Fortunately for him, in Mexican politics there is always room for second chances, and maybe even third chances, especially if you have the right friends.
Women Harder Hit by Unemployment
During the first year of the covid-19 pandemic, more than a million Mexican women left the formal workforce, and those who managed to keep their jobs saw both their earning power and work conditions deteriorate, according to the National Survey of Employment and Occupations (ENOE).
In a report published on Friday, March 26, the ENOE said that between January and December 2020, female participation in the nation’s workforce decreased from 45.4 percent in 2019 to just 42.4 percent in 2020.
And according to a study conducted by the independent labor market OCC Mundial, seven in every 10 Mexican women saw their wages plummet or vanish in 2020.
The total number of registered working women in Mexico in 2020 was 20.7 million, compared to 21.9 million in 2019.
Fabiola Loya, head of the Citizens Movement in Mexico’s lower house Chamber of Deputies, pointed out that Mexican women tend to hold jobs in sectors that were most heavily impacted by the pandemic, especially in the food and service industries.
As a result, their salaries were far more vulnerable to sudden drops and fluctuations.
Notwithstanding, according to the Global Gender Gap report, more than a quarter of all households in Mexico are headed by women as the sole breadwinners, and in urban areas, the figure is as high as 35 percent.
Mexico Is a Serial Treaty Breaker
The administration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has violated or tried to violate at least 12 chapters of the newly minted United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in just eight months, according to private sector sources in the United States.
In a letter last week directed to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, 20 of the largest U.S. private sector organizations accused Mexico of blatantly violating the new trade pact, which took effect in July of last year.
The six-page letter outlined more than 20 specific cases of Mexico’s violations in a range of fields, from the film industry to the energy sector, as well as plans by the AMLO government to ignore bilateral and trilateral agreements in telecommunications and competitiveness in strict disagreement with Chapter 18 of the USMCA.
The letter also said that Mexico has blocked the entry of U.S. drugs and medical equipment in violation of Chapters 12 and 3 of the USMCA.
The letter called on Tai to inform Mexico of its trade violations and to demand that Mexico remedy the situation or face formal trade consequences.
Also last week, a group of the most powerful agricultural organizations in the United States sent a separate letter to Tai listing alleged USMCA violations by Mexico in the areas of grain and corn imports.
Tai said that, if needed, she would use the “necessary tools” to convince Mexico to comply with its international trade treaties.
…March 29, 2021