What’s Going On In This Country?

December 26, 2016 edition
BY: SANTIAGO VERDUGO

More flights The federal Undersecretary of Transportation announced five airlines have requested permission for between three and six new routes each. Requests have been made by American Airlines, Delta, Southwest and Hawaiian — and a fifth is pending.

Among the destinations favored by the airlines are Monterrey, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Cancún and Mérida. Not one application was made for new flights to Mexico City, so these are all new tourist flights, not for business.

The expansion of routes comes as a result of the signing of a new air accord between Mexico and the U.S., which took effect in August and replaced one that dated back to 1960.

In related news Southwest Airlines suspended new flights between Los Angeles and three resort destinations last week.

Southwest said it cancelled flights to Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and Cancún because  it turned out the necessary paperwork had not been completed. But it said that Mexican authorities issued the permits on Friday and flights resumed on Sunday as anticipated. 40 flights were affected by the four-day suspension of service.

The new flights had only just begun operating on December 4. Two days later regulators discovered that something was amiss, and Southwest blamed “paperwork” in a statement.

The travel website Sift suggested Southwest, after decades of serving only domestic routes, “is now learning, the hard way, how challenging international service can be and perhaps jumped the gun on launching its new flights without receiving final approval.” Welcome to Mexico, Southwest, it is a challenge doing business here.

We think this is kinda funny. A drug lord’s elderly mother was released in exchange for freeing a kidnapped businessman who was very popular. Most of the small town turned out to snatch mama and half of the two-bit cartel leader’s gang for ransom right back at him. They got the kidnapee back and mama got to go home, but the governor of the state of Guerrero wants to go on record that the release of the mama had not been negotiated by the townsfolks, that his police did it. Ha ha.

The Los Tequileros crime gang operates in the region with such impunity, the community had already taken up arms to defend themselves.

Calling for calm among residents, the gov did concede that San Miguel Totolapan is living through a period of crisis and said he would do everything he could to resolve it.

The region produces much of Mexico’s opium poppy crop.

Your unionized housekeeper? Labor stability and lawful benefits normally granted to Mexican workers may soon be given to more than 2.3 million people employed as laborers.

According to an employment poll performed by INEGI, the national statistics institute, 95% of domestic workers are women, and many earn just twice the daily minimum wage or less (Minimum wage is 73 pesos or US $3.60).

Only 4% of those workers are employed under the terms of a contract in which their rights and obligations are clearly stated. Just under 20% are enrolled in the national health care program, 65% never get a vacation, 47% don’t receive the year-end bonus called the Aguinaldo, and 45% don’t have a fixed income amount.

But now the National Union of Domestic Workers has required employers to provide domestic workers with contracts, establishing four different categories according to the worker’s responsibilities and skills, all based on an eight-hour work day.

Suggested wages start at 250 pesos and go up to 550 pesos depending on their expertise and responsibilities. These daily salaries are expected to increase by 5% annually. (Inflation is just under 3% these days).

Pass that joint, please The use of marijuana and its byproducts for medicinal, therapeutic and research purposes is closer to becoming a reality after a vast majority in the Senate voted in its favor. With 98 votes for, seven against, and one abstention, legislators approved the use for medicinal purposes.

More anti Trump stuff If U.S. President-elect Donald Trump succeeds in his threat to eliminate the North American Free Trade Agreement, it could chop nearly 3 percent off Mexico's gross domestic product, the head of the U.N.'s Latin American economic arm said last week.

That threat, combined with various other pledges by Trump to battle Mexico over trade, investment, and jobs have pushed a growing number of companies operating in Mexico to put expansion plans on hold until Trump fleshes out his policies.

"We have estimated that if NAFTA were eliminated, the GDP fall could be around 2.7 percent," Alicia Barcena, executive secretary of the U.N.'s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, said during a presentation at that body's headquarters in the Chilean capital of Santiago. "This could even bring the Mexican economy into recession," she concluded.

Around 85 percent of Mexican exports are delivered to the NAFTA trade partners, the United States and Canada.