What’s Going On In This Country?

May 16, 2016 Edition
BY: SANTIAGO VERDUGO

Holy cow!

Bad news and worse news! My mom posted my handsome self in the want ads for cat adoptions from the  Humane Society last issue.

I want to make this perfectly clear: I am not up for grabs. I have a very good gig here and I know it. All I have to do is hustle out and get the news of what’s happening in Mexico, write up about 1000 words, and then fall back to nap position. And eat. The chow here is pretty good.

But I will allow I was slacking off a bit on my column, dipping down to 800 words, missing my quota. Well, this issue I hustled up more words, I want it on record that I’m back at work.

So that’s the bad news. And the worse news? Nobody even showed up at the Humane Society asking for me!

I am a fine spaceman of male catness, and I can type a blazing eight words a minute, which is pretty good for someone with no fingers. Why wouldn’t I be in great demand?

Don’t tell my mom nobody inquired about me, I wouldn’t want her to think she has the upper hand.

 

Canada reneges on promise to Mexico. Canada imposed visa requirements on travellers from Mexico and the Czech Republic without warning in July 2009, blaming skyrocketing refugee claims from the two countries. The anger only grew after the Conservatives, in response to threats from the European Union over free trade, lifted the Czech visa requirements in November 2013, but kept them on Mexico. Nearly 1,000 Mexicans a month were arriving in Canada and filing for asylum, the most of any country. Processing those claims, both successful and unsuccessful, cost more than $400 million a year. One in four Mexican visitors was applying for refugee status. It is now fewer than one in 100. Visa officers have also been rejecting five per cent of Mexican visa requests for fear the travellers will not leave Canada after their visit. Of course none of these statistics makes Mexico less demanding of visa free entry to Canada.

 It’s about damn time. After eight months of screwing around, the U.S. Senate has finally confirmed veteran diplomat Roberta Jacobson as U.S. ambassador to Mexico, filling a crucial diplomatic post that has been vacant all these months.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a former Republican presidential candidate, had blocked Jacobson’s nomination all these months because of her role in implementing the Obama administration’s push to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. Rubio is Cuban and he opposed normalization of relations.

Jacobson is widely respected in Mexico and in U.S. diplomatic circles because of her knowledge of Latin America, her fluency in Spanish, and her deft handling of cross-border trade negotiations.

Jacobson’s supporters in the Senate had tried to bypass Rubio’s hold on her nomination. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) told his colleagues it was “incomprehensible” that such a vital diplomatic post remained vacant. “The longer the United States goes without having an ambassador to Mexico, the more the relationship will suffer,” he said on the Senate floor when he tried, unsuccessfully, to push Jacobson’s confirmation through. “She enjoys overwhelming support. There is no reason not to move forward.”

Jacobson was not the architect of the administration’s Cuba policy, but she was its most visible shepherd, which was her job. After Obama announced his decision in December 2014 to renew diplomatic ties with Havana, she led talks with the government of President Raul Castro.

Now it seems Marco Rubio’s hissy fit is over.

Oh for crying out loud. A buncha political protesters in Chiapas last week led to the death of two young children who were unable to get medical attention due to a highway blockade.

The brothers, aged four and six, are believed to have ingested penicillin after discovering vials of the antibiotic in a garbage dump in the indigenous community of Chanal. They were taken to a clinic in nearby San Antonio but the doctor was not present, having been detained by the highway blockade. It was those protesters at the same blockade who shortly after prevented an ambulance carrying the two boys from proceeding to a hospital in a neighboring town. The boys’ parents had found a private vehicle to make the hour-long trip instead, but the children were pronounced dead on arrival.

The protesters were members of the Ecologist Green Party who are at odds with the mayor of Chanal. They claim he has failed to keep campaign promises. However, he hasn’t been mayor for long, nor was he even elected. His wife was one of three mayors elected last year after being nominated at the last minute to fulfill gender quota requirements under election laws. All three have since resigned and their positions have been filled by men. In two cases, the men were husbands of the elected mayors.

When the ambulance carrying the two boys attempted to pass through the blockade, protesters identified the driver as a municipal employee and refused to let him pass. He was dragged from the vehicle, beaten and taken to a nearby community where according to the most recent reports was being held for a $2,000 ransom. In the meantime, after setting fire to the ambulance, the protesters were reported to have severed all communications with the city of Chanal, having cut off its electrical power, telephone service and highway access.

Dirty gas. Not only is the gasoline sold in Mexico more expensive than in the United States, but its quality is substandard compared to what is sold north of the border.

All vehicle fuels sold in the U.S. must by law contain a minimum of 10% ethanol, a gasoline additive and oxygenate that reduces carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide emissions. However, the gas that is exported to Mexico are shipped without any additives.

“We purchase, as do other countries, base gasolines. Additives are added afterwards in order to comply with each country’s official standards,” said Pemex. But automotive fuels sold by Pemex contain just 2.7% oxygenates such as ethanol.  Mexico is unable to comply with that 5% because the infrastructure to process the 10 million liters of ethanol that would be needed daily does not exist. Every day, said Pablo González, 200 million liters of gasoline and diesel are consumed in Mexico.

Several specialists quoted by the newspaper El Universal agreed that fuels distributed in Mexico are low-quality and that there hasn’t been a real commitment from the authorities to improve them.

No Olympics here. Mexico’s two main television broadcasters,Televisa and TV Azteca will take a pass on airing the Olympic games from Brazil this summer.

América Móvil, the region’s biggest telecommunications company, and controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, won exclusive broadcast rights for Latin America, except Brazil. It has resold exhibition rights to broadcasters across the region but not to the biggest Mexican television companies.

“We didn’t reach an agreement,” said América Móvil spokesman Arturo Elías Ayub, who declined to give details. The games are set to take place in August in Rio de Janeiro.

Televisa and Azteca between them control more than 90% of Mexico’s broadcast television. The Olympics will be carried on two government-owned broadcast television channels, as well as on pay TV systems and online via América Móvil’s Claro Sports website.

Mexicans are shurgging it off, as they show greater interest in the soccer World Cup than in the Olympics, in which the country isn’t a major medal winner.

How much is a Mexican worth? Way more than this. Some families of Mexican tourists accidentally killed by government forces while in Egypt last year have settled for $140,000 for each person killed, as negotiations continue with relatives of five other tourists.