What's Going On In This Country?

January 7, 2019 Edition
BY: SANTIAGO VERDUGO

Uncle Sam to the rescue. The U.S. government is pledging $10.6 billion in public and private funds toward economic development in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, in an attempt to address the causes of migration from the region, the U.S. State Department has announced.

The investment will include partnerships with the private sector and $4.8 billion will be spent in Mexico and $5.8 billion in northern Central America through 2024, according to a joint statement from the State Department and Mexico’s Foreign Relations Ministry. Mexico is pledging $25 billion in the region over the same period, the statement said.

Much of the U.S. funds had been set aside since 2017, but the Trump administration will request approval from Congress for an additional $180 million for assistance to Mexico.

“Overall, this is very good news for Mexico,” said Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard in a joint statement. Well, no kidding.

Mexico to the rescue. Over the next five years, the Mexican government plans to pitch in $30 billion to Central American development. Their goal is to keep illegal aliens from heading north towards the United States border,and trampling through Mexico to get it done.

BTW, close observers, (like us), noted that Mexico tried very hard to stop the migrant caravan from swarming into Mexico. Their forces were simply overwhelmed by young men leading the charge with Molotov cocktails, sticks, and stones. Is it any wonder that these migrants, who can barely read even Spanish, and don’t know what’s going on in the States, thought they could storm through the U.S. border, also? They were mislead by their so called leaders who call themselves human rights workers.

wall grief. The White House border wall is more expensive because of our slapping tariffs on steel imports. That allowed domestic steel plants to raise their domestic prices by the same 25%.

Todos Santos’ cash in jeopardy.  Mexico’s 121 so called magical towns might not receive any federal money in 2019 because the program that funds them has been cancelled. Our own Todos Santos is one of those magic towns. The average magic town gets about $240,000 U.S. per year, depending on how good a deal they swung when they first were dusted with the magic pixy dust.

Tourism Secretary Miguel Torruco confirmed the end to funding for the program, along with chopping the entire federal tourism budget down to nada. Our new President wants to spend the entire bag of money on his 1000 mile tourist train through the jungles of the Yucatan.

So where does Todos Santos’ magic money go? Who knows, certainly not the public, but a clue would be it was sucked up by La Paz. Todos Santos is governed by La Paz and La Paz is so broke City Hall got their electricity shut off. They are sucking whatever money they can from their outlying towns like Todos Santos and Los Barriles, not returning more than scraps to the towns that are required by law to turn over most revenue they collect.

Fake news in Baja. A criminal gang is targeting business owners in Baja with anextortion that threatens to spread fake news about them if they refuse to pony up. More than 100 business owners as well as professionals such as doctors and lawyers have been targeted.

The demands come with the threat that if they don’t pay, false information will be spread about them online. Stuff like they have criminal records for drug trafficking, weapons offenses, robbery or other crimes.

Last week the suspected leader was arrested. He had allegedly posted phony information about business owners and politicians on a website masquerading as an online newspaper calledNoticias de México. It is thought that the criminals were obtaining information about their targets from social media.

Preliminary investigations into the modus operandi of the extortion racket indicate that its members initially contact their targets through email, offering to sell them online advertising. The targets are left with a telephone number to call. The telephone numbers of those who call are recorded and passed on to the extortionists who then begin their scam. Their fatal stupidity was they spread the scam into San Diego. This brought the FBI down on them like a ton of bricks. They were then quickly busted.

Many years ago the Gringo Gazette was extorted in a similar scam. 24 Horas, a TV program very similar to 60 Minutes, was in Cabo to film a story on the town. Yes, in those days it was actual film, not video. They were filming. The crew approached the publisher and demanded $50,000 USD or they would say “bad things” about the paper. The “bad things” turned out to be a reporter holding up the paper and saying we said negative things about Mexicans. Because most Mexicans can’t read the paper, they believed it. This was about 20 years ago and we still get Mexicans who refer to that. Also, the story went around town so much and got distorted and enlarged so much, that many don’t remember where they heard it, they just believe the paper says negative things about them. This latest extortion scam is very serious, and fake news of this kind can have lasting effects.

President attends Mayan ceremony.  President AMLO is asking for Earth's permission to build his tourist train through the jungles of the Mayan peninsula. This is in lieu of the customary conservation permits. The ceremony was for limpia, to rid them of “bad vibes.” Hey, we don’t make this stuff up, it just seems like it.

The ceremony also included the placing of offerings in a hole in the ground. Among these were a chicken, a bottle ofpozol(a fermented corn dough and cacao drink) and 12 bottles of a local aguardiente, a distilled alcoholic beverage. The ceremony was intended to ensure the president’s first big infrastructure project is finished without incident.

“We have to ask for permission from the Earth, because we eat from her and we walk on her,” said the state Secretary for the Sustainable Development of Indigenous Peoples, with a straight face. In a speech after the ceremony, President López Obrador recalled that former president Porfirio Díaz had been able to lay 12,000 miles of track during his decades-long dictatorship, suggesting he ought to be able to lay the 1000 miles of track required for his Maya Train. With a straight face.

More energy, please. Mexico's oil and gas collapse is an immense problem, because Mexico is the fastest growing OECD energy user. Expected economic growth is a solid 3-5% per year, and oil and gas supply is only 85% of the country's needs.

Oil revenues have dwindled down 40% from a decade ago.

For natural gas, Mexico's most vital source of energy, falling production has meant soaring reliance on. U.S. shale gas. Over the past 10 years, the strategy has been to displace fuel oil with natural gas. Today, gas accounts for over 60% of the country's electricity and Mexico gets nearly 65% of its natural gas from the U.S.

This increasing reliance on the U.S. has Mexican leadership concerned because the U.S. has plans to export huge amounts of liquefied natural gas to all corners of the globe. China and India and others want U.S. gas, and we hate standing in line.

Pemex woes. Mexico’s military has taken control  over key fuel installations. 57 facilities will be protected by the Army and Navy: six refineries, 39 storage terminals, and 12 pumping stations. New President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has vowed to fight corruption and fuel theft within and outside government run energy company Pemex.

According to Pemex’s own estimates, the losses from fuel theft over the past three years have reached US $7.5.

“This is the theft of national assets, of public funds, of money that belongs to all Mexicans,” Lopez Obrador said. On Friday, the Mexican army swooped in but unionized workers were blocking access to some of the sites.

Three Pemex officials, suspected of having facilitated fuel theft, had already been arrested for the alleged crimes. The three Pemex officials have been sacked and will be facing criminal charges, Mexico’s Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero said at Lopez Obrador’s news conference on Thursday. Ha ha. These accusations will be swept under the rug at the end of this news cycle when nobody is looking.

Illegal, amateur taps on Mexican pipelines jumped by 45 percent annually between January and October 2018.

Apart from rampant fuel theft, Pemex also has to cope with declining domestic oil production, which in October is one of the lowest monthly production rates since 1990 when records began.

In related news. Also in the works will be construction of theBocas refinery in Tabasco state and the cross country railroad which will connect theCoastwith theofMexicoand give the shippers an alternative to the Panama Canal, the president said. All they have to do is unload it from the ships, load up trains, choo choo across the country, then load the stuff on a different ship. Bam! They’re there!