What’s Going On In This Country?

December 11, 2017
BY: SANTIAGO VERDUGO

Redlight/greenlight You know that button you have to push when you enter the country? The one that flashes either red or green and, if red, you’re pulled over so they can paw through the undies in your suitcase? Well, that will soon be a thing of the past. The pawing through, not the undies.

Also eliminated will be customs declaration forms. Might as well, since everyone lies on those anyway. Are you really going to say you’re bringing in three computers because they cost about 30% more here? Probably not.

At airports, baggage will now be inspected by x-ray scanners. No hiding the undies or the extra contraband from those.

Authorities say the new procedures, which are standard practice internationally, will make arriving here easier. You will never know you were being screened, and that’s the point.

Phones getting easier The need to dial 01, 044 and 045 will all disappear by 2019 and using the phone here will be like using the phone back home. We will all be using 10 digits, and no prefixes will be required.

The prefixes being phased out include the 01 entered before long-distance calls or non-geographical numbers (think 1-800 numbers), and 044 and 045, which are used to make local and long-distance calls to a mobile phone from a landline. The problem was, you never knew if you were trying to call a cell or a land line, making every call a guess.

A call from abroad to a mobile number here will not need the number 1 before the area code. Not knowing they had to do that always drove people nuts. And the operator coming on to tell you what you were doing wrong was jabbering away in Spanish, so you still didn’t know what was going on.

The government has said telecommunication service providers have more than a year and a half before the new system swings into place, so no whining about making the adjustments.

Sacrificial lamb With President Pena Nieto’s numbers in the dumpster, there isn’t much chance his party, the PRI, is going to be elected next year. José Antonio Meade, come on down! Jose is seeking the presidential nomination for the PRI.

“I wish him the best of luck,” Peña Nieto said.

The PRI will hold a national convention of about 19,000 people to choose who will run.

Crappy report A Supreme Court judge has given his opinion on what’s wrong with Mexico, citing crappy education, the crappy design of political institutions and “shocking corruption” as problems that continue to plague the country. Shocking? Is anyone still shocked by the corruption?

Judges, he said, must also take responsibility for the situation in Mexico, although he demurred from calling his fellow judges crappy. OK, the crappy part was my translation, but you get the message.

He also cited, as further items that are holding Mexico back, the lack of opportunity for generations of young people, the lack of decent working conditions, and the discrimination that women still suffer. The nation’s indigenous population, people with disabilities and sexual minorities are also marginalized and discriminated against, he said. More crappy.

Aguilar went on to say authorities need to stop “exercising their power in a way that is despotic, capricious without any limits, brakes, counterweights or accountability.” More crap.

Pay raise! 25 million Mexicans are getting a pay raise next week. From $4.25 to $4.70 a day. That is minimum wage here. The 10% raise is good news for 24.7 million Mexicans who work either one or two minimum wage jobs.

Cheap labor has attracted American companies to Mexico for decades. The Economic Policy Institute estimates about 800,000 U.S. jobs were lost to Mexico between 1997 and 2013. NAFTA became law in 1994. With the U.S. national minimum wage 12 times higher than the Mexican wage, Mexico has a clear advantage to attract jobs.

For Mexican workers, the wage hike is much needed as rising prices have weakened Mexicans’ purchasing power For nearly two years, the Mexican peso has hovered around its all-time low, roughly worth five U.S. cents.

Online shopping a challenge Amazon.com and Wal-Mart de Mexico are pushing a hybrid payment system to encourage more shoppers to go online. Amazon is letting people pay at the local Oxxo, while Wal-Mart and retail giant Elektra have set up kiosks at Mega grocery stores that work much the same way. Even Mercado Libre, Latin America’s biggest online marketplace, has gotten in on the trend. This is because most Mexicans do not have a credit card or any way to pay online.

China and India have faced similar problems, but delivery people there accept cash payments, not an option in Mexico because of the nation’s sky-high rates of assaults and robberies.

The retail market here is estimated at $168 billion, but only around 10% of that total is online. Meanwhile, up to half of those online purchases are paid for in cash when picking up the item.

Horses going hungry Horses in Guadalajara are going hungry because their driver/owners haven’t worked for two weeks and don’t have the hay to feed them. Or whatever they eat.

The local government is phasing out horse drawn carriages in favor of electric vehicles so 100 horses that previously pulled carriages in the tourism sector — along with scores of drivers — have been left jobless. A bank account has been set up to receive donations to help feed the animals. The general secretary of the local carriage drivers’ union is behind this passing of the sombrero.

While some money has started flowing into the account, so far it hasn’t been enough to cover the costs of the 22 pounds of whatever they eat every day, which costs about $4.20 USD.

The 75 drivers have been offered jobs driving the new electric cars, but most of them don’t want to.

The union leader and at least four drivers say they will start a hunger strike to demand they be allowed to clippity clop through the streets again. Well, that seems only fair. If the horses go hungry, so should the drivers. “

Donations to help feed the horses can be made to the Banco Azteca account 959 613 446 488 73.

People care about journalists Maybe not our readers, but some people. Nearly 40 Mexican media organizations have announced they are going into cahoots to combat a wave of killing reporters all over the country, including at least nine this year.

The initiative calls for establishing communication with national and international human rights groups. The organizations also agreed to launch an awareness campaign aimed at Mexican society.

“The battle will only work if society understands that, with each killing of a journalist, they lose more of their right to know what’s going on in the country,” the agreement’s text said.

In a statement, they called journalist killings “a crisis in Mexico for over a decade” and urged the government to devote resources to support measures of protection.

Yikes, I think this reporter will stay underground in my cat suit. I stay under the radar this way, and the look becomes me.