By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
A Shot of Nothing
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) seems to be more obsessed over the incident in which one elderly woman in the northwestern state of Sonora was given an “empty” covid-19 vaccine injection last month than he claims the media is.
The alleged mistake occurred when an apparently overworked nursing student accidently jabbed a 94-year-old woman with an empty syringe because he forgot to fill it with the vaccine.
An out-for-blood media, suffering from a slow news cycle and anxious to fill pages and grab headlines, immediately jumped on a video of the incident that surfaced on Saturday, April 3, making the event the flavor of the day for news outlets across the country.
In all fairness, mistakes do happen and the woman was later given a full vaccine.
Local authorities chocked up the mistake to human error and the nursing student was subsequently relieved of his post.
And the story should have died there.
But on Tuesday, April 6, AMLO decided to revive the already-overblown empty-syringe “scandal” during his morning press conference, when he said that there is “a very good chance” that the entire event was “staged to discredit his administration’s handling of the covid vaccine roll-out.”
One has to wonder how the incident of a single vaccine injection mistake could possibly “discredit” his government’s handling of the national covid-19 vaccination program, when it is already shamed by the fact in the course of four months, the country has only managed inoculate about 9 million Mexicans with a hodgepodge of some internationally approved and some non-internationally approved vaccines, while in the United States, the government has already administered 150 million doses, representing more than 40 percent of its adult population.
In fact, Mexico’s sketchy vaccine distribution program is so bad that thousands of Mexicans are making their way to the United States to get vaccinated after many who officially registered for the vaccine on the government’s own online page were somehow kicked out of the system and denied access despite having qualified for inoculation.
Perhaps instead of worrying about trumped up conspiracy theories, AMLO would be better advised to cull down his “staged” 120,000-strong army of vaccine brigadiers (only 20,000 of whom are actually medical personnel) and rev up a real national vaccination process to save lives in a country with a death toll that now ranks as the second-highest in the world.
One of the top economic goals of the AMLO administration has been to rid the country of the nefarious practice of payroll outsourcing, which allows companies to skirt fiscal responsibilities and deprive their workers of basic health and other benefits.
In November of last year, López Obrador presented an initiative to Congress to regulate outsourcing “and eradicate its abuses.”
However, that proposal was questioned by some business sectors that depend on legitimate outsourcing for key production needs.
Now, the federal government, private companies and workers unions have reached an agreement granting a three-month grace period for firms to stop the unethical practice of “outsourcing” full-time employees and actually hire their workers legally.
The scheme calls for the creation of two modalities for calculating workers’ outstanding profit-sharing benefits and the establishment of retroactive health insurance policies.
Subcontracting of workers to avoid taxes and full benefit payouts will no longer be allowed in Mexico, and those full-time workers who have been shorted pay and benefits will be compensated.
There will, however, be some exceptions allowed for specific part-time and gig workers.
According to the Mexican Labor Secretariat, the new rules will lead to an increase of 156 percent in the amount of profit sharing for workers.
Tax Declaration Reprieve
The Mexican government has decided to give taxpayers an extra month to file their annual tax returns..
Annual income tax declarations for 2020 will now be due on May 31, instead of April 30.
Unfortunately, there will be no additional deductions, so everyone will still have to eventually pay up.
Death and taxes.
Rosy Economic Forecast
Just one day after Mexico’s Central Bank raised its prediction for the country’s economic growth for 2021 from 3.67 percent to 4.5 percent, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decided to raise the forecast even higher, predicting on Tuesday, April 6, that Mexico will register 5 percent growth this year.
In January, the IMF said that Mexico would have a 4.3 percent growth in 2021.
The IMF also said on Tuesday that Mexico will grow by as much as 3 percent in 2022, up from its January prediction of 2.5 percent.
The International Monetary Fund said that the main engine for Mexico’s projected growth is the economic rebound in the United States.
A Mexican on Mars
NASA’s Curiosity team has named a Martian hill after deceased mission scientist , a Mexican citizen who helped lead the team that identified ancient organic compounds on Mars.
The craggy hump that stretches 120 meters tall, which is considered a gateway to the Curiosity mission, will now be known as Rafael Navarro Mountain.
Navarro González died in January from complications related to covid-19.
He was a leading astrobiologist in Mexico as a co-investigator on the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM), a portable chemistry lab aboard Curiosity that has been sniffing out the chemical makeup of Martian soil, rocks and air.
…April 7. 2021