What's Going On In This Country?

February 5, 2018 Edition
BY: SANTIAGO VERDUGO

We all consume gasoline But we don’t all consume drugs. So druggies are seriously pushing into the business of stealing gas.

Theft from refineries and pipelines owned and operated by state oil company Pemex is rapidly becoming one of the biggest and most pressing economic and security concerns for Mexico. It costs the federal government more than $1 billion USD annually in lost revenue and is deterring foreign investment.

Two of Mexico’s largest and most powerful industries — oil and narcotics — now facing off, head to head. By directly targeting refineries rather than pipelines, cartels can access huge quantities of the nation’s fuel supply.

 “You don’t have to risk crossing the border to look for a market. We all consume gasoline. We don’t all consume drugs,” said one Pemex official.

So. Are you going to buy your gas from your Pemex, of from some guy on a street corner siphoning from a 55-gallon drum? Take the high road.

In related news… Almost 11 months after opening its first gas station in Mexico, BP México’s vice-president reported that the firm’s expansion is decelerating and the long-term goal of operating 1,500 gas stations in five years “is slow going.” As in a tough pull

“We’re falling behind schedule,” Alfredo García Mondragón said during an energy summit in Monterrey. “We’ve got a problem in the municipalities, and this not only effects BP but other firms as well.”

He explained that the problem was corruption.

“The country remains attractive”, he said.” The country has standardized regulations that oversee the operation of gas stations that put it at an international level.”

But city officials extract everything they can from the British company.

Some good news In 2017 Mexico registered its smallest trade deficit in three years. For the full year, exports were up 9.5%. The country, which exports crude oil but imports most of its natural gas and gasoline, had an $18.4 billion deficit in petroleum trade and a $7.53 billion surplus in nonpetroleum trade.

Manufacturing exports rose 8.5%, led by an 11.8% increase in shipments of autos and auto parts, while agricultural exports were 8.9% higher than the previous year at $15.97 billion.

One of Trump's aims in seeking to overhaul Nafta is to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico. The U.S. had a $65.68 billion deficit with Mexico, about the same as the year before. So much for Trump’s plan to reverse that.

Cattle rustling! Two former state governors have been accused of using government money to buy 12,000 head of cattle they imported from New Zealand.

Members of the Nayarit-based Comisión de la Verdad, or truth commission, filed a criminal complaint against the ex-governor of Nayarit, Roberto Sandoval, and the former governor of Chihuahua, César Duarte.

They are under investigation for illicit enrichment, embezzlement, organized crime and the use of funds derived from illegal sources.

If they are found guilty, they will face administrative sanctions and a disqualification from holding public office, the maximum punishment that Congress can impose. One of the ex-governors is accused of embezzling US $64.4 million. Well, that herd of cattle was expensive.

Are you missing a shark? Or two, maybe three? Authorities found 300 dead sharks along a road in Michocán, some 150 miles from the sea.

The shark carcasses were gutted and missing their fins.

Residents alerted authorities that there were multiple white sacks at the edge of the Piedad-Yurécuaro highway. Initially, residents believed they contained human remains, a more common sight on Mexican roadsides than dead sharks.

Environmental protection officials believe the thresher sharks were being transported to Mexico City when thieves hijacked the vehicle while it was en route and tossed out the sharks. Thieves stealing from thieves, we like it.

Thresher sharks are fished for their meat, liver oil, skin and fins, which are used in shark-fin soup. They are not a protected species in Mexico but they are listed as vulnerable to extinction by the World Conservation Union. They are usually exported to China.

Gentlemen, reverse engines! Marijuana used to flow north to south. These days, drug enforcement agents regularly seize cannabis grown in the United States being smuggled south.

Widespread legalization in the U.S. is killing Mexico's marijuana business because the Americans have figured out how to raise a better product.

So when Mexico's tourism secretary this week declared his personal hopes that Mexico will legalize marijuana for recreational use in an effort to reduce violence, some disagreed with the notion that marijuana was driving the bloodshed.

"Avocados are a bigger industry than marijuana," said one security expert. "And the number of homicides connected to marijuana is very small."

"It is naive to believe that legalizing marijuana will reduce crime rates," tweeted Margarita Zavala, a presidential candidate.

"Cartels know their ability to compete in the U.S. marijuana market is diminishing," said John M. Walsh, director for drug policy at the think tank Washington Office on Latin America. "U.S. consumers have better options."

We’re numero uno Baja California Sur (that’s our state, Bunky) has the highest economic growth for last year, at 4.8%. Well, that’s not number one, but the growth of our construction industry is. That has increased 39%, announced the Ministry of Tourism, Economy and Sustainability. About a month ago we counted 13 cranes in a two mile stretch of the corridor. Some of those have packed up and left now, as the construction has matured.