What's Going On In This Country?

October 1, 2018 Edition
BY: SANTIAGO VERDUGO

Another dunderhead idea. The decentralization of the federal government by moving some departments out of Mexico City will be one of the costliest projects ever undertaken in the history of Mexico, warned a business leader.

Gustavo de Hoyos, a union leader, said the relocation of the departments to other cities will cost at least US $6.5 billion. And, oh by the way, the federal employees do not want to uproot their families.

 “The cost of this operation would be equivalent to the Health Secretariat’s entire 2018 budget, without tallying in additional and indirect costs,” said de Hoyos.

Among the first relocations planned are the Environment Secretariat moving to Mérida, Yucatán, and Tourism to Chetumal, Quintana Roo. The plan has been cheered on by the real estate industry. Of course. The reason given for the move is to spread out the financial gain these government offices provide from Mexico City to smaller outlying areas.

Keep your money. Apparently, Mexico has plenty. The incoming federal government will not accept funding from the United States to police and deport migrants, the incoming interior secretary has announced. However the outgoing administration said they wouldn’t mind taking the money meant to be spent on busing Central Americans back home, through Mexico.

On the campaign trail leading up to the July 1 election, the then-candidate pledged that Mexico,“wouldn’t do the dirty work” of foreign governments, referring specifically to the deportations of Central Americans.

Mexico needs more noise. Some locals and most Gringos agree that Mexico isloud enough already, but that is not stopping electronics firm Panasonic from introducing two new, stronger speakers designed especially for Mexico.

The new speakers improve on power and sound clarity, explained Edmundo Sánchez, director of a Panasonic manufacturing plant in México state. They were designed by Mexican engineers, who aim to create speakers aligned with Mexican and Latin tastes “for more party,” said the executive.

The audio division’s production is more than 220,000 speakers, and a whopping 90% stays in Mexico.

 Another round of financing, please The U.S. Embassy has donated $200,000 dollars to restore the Franciscan convent of San Martín in Puebla that was destroyed in last September’s earthquake. This is a partial replacement for the $4.5 million in patch-up money that has gone missing. The former convent was built in 1531. More than 350 people were killed, hundreds of buildings were destroyed, and because so much money was stolen from the relief effort, thousands are still camping out one year later.

The Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation, created by the United States Congress in 2000, has provided financial assistance to more than 120 countries around the world for the preservation of cultural sites and objects. Hopefully, the U.S. is not going to just mail a check.

What could go wrong there? Mexico's president-elect kicked off a nationwide tour Sunday with his new head of security in tow: a restaurant owner who will coordinate a civilian brigade in lieu of the Mexican equivalent of the U.S. Secret Service. Oh lordy, God help our new president. Did he not get the memo that almost 145 people running for July’s election were assassinated?

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who takes office Dec. 1, introduced this restaurant guy to reporters, saying he will be charged with organizing 20 civilian assistants who will accompany the new president five at a time so he can get up close to his peeps without getting squashed.

The wildly popular Lopez Obrador enjoys engaging with everyday Mexicans and is mobbed by well-wishers. He shakes hands. He poses for pictures. And he pauses to listen to pleas that range from tearful requests for assistance locating kidnapped or missing loved ones to humble requests for a job.

Lopez Obrador campaigned across Mexico for 13 years with two failed bids for the presidency before winning the highest office in a landslide July vote. He visited remote and dangerous hamlets with a modest entourage and wasn’t hurt, so maybe this will work…

His head of security in the past was Polimnia Romana, a veterinarian who assembled a small group of female police to handle crowd control. The female force's light touch with children and women who approached Lopez Obrador earned them the nickname "the gazelles."

But Romana finds it "very worrisome" that Lopez Obrador wants to entrust his safety to someone without security experience as he nears the presidency. Lopez Obrador "cares too much about public opinion," she said, adding that he is still "behaving like a candidate who is looking for votes."

If something bad does happen, his spot would be filled by the interior minister or head of the Senate until general elections are held again. It’s not certain who would take over because the law is pretty loosie goosie on that. Well, what could go wrong there?

Standing before a cheering crowd of thousands in Tepic, Lopez Obrador last week said, "The people will take care of me."

Uber all. Well, nor all, Cabo doesn’t have it. San Miguel de Allende is a “gold mine” in Guanajuato for Uber, according to the company’s Mexico communications director. Saul Crespo told the newspaperEl Financierothat San Miguel generates the highest average hourly earnings of any of Uber’s markets in the state. It is also a particularly lucrative city for Uber drivers, he said, adding that 60% of journeys in the city are requested by foreigners.

San Miguel de Allende is a large expat hub and is also a popular tourist destination.

Uber started operations in Guanajuato three years ago and now “directly generates 10,600 economic opportunities and helps transport 768,000 Guanajuato residents,” Crespo said.

He also stated that Uber has become one of the state’s economic engines, with a total of 14% of the state’s population either using the company’s services or driving for them.

Crespo said that Uber’s goal is to continue growing in Mexico and to resolve the problems it has in some parts of the country, like here in Southern Baja.

Better tourism through tacos. In 2010, traditional Mexican cuisine receivedUNESCOHeritage designation as a cultural treasure. The Mexican government’sAtlantaoutpost is betting that Americans with more discriminating palates will also make more informed travelers, benefiting the tourist business here. 25 gastronomic ambassadors have been designated by Mexico’s foreign ministry to spread the word about the country’s flavors around the globe.

“Food is a very strong ingredient now for modern tourism. One of the stronger strategies to promote tourism is to promote Mexico as a gastronomic destination,” saidJavier Diaz de Leon, Mexico’s consul general in Atlanta.Mexico that’s key, given that tourism accounts for 7.4 percent of gross domestic product and sustains 4 million jobs in the country.