What's Going On In This Country?

February 4, 2019
BY: SANTIAGO VERDUGO

 Are we naggers? Sometimes we think we are. As in when someone calls to whine about paying off a policeman. “We told you not to do it!” we shout. But you still do it, because you’re scared, or you’re lazy, or whatever.

But phone extortions are down by a third and officials believe it’s because the public has been warned so much that they don’t fall for that hoax anymore.

These are usually convicts inside a prison who rent the phones by the day and then start randomly dialing for dollars. They threaten they have a loved one tied to a railroad track or some bullshit, and there’s a train coming down the track unless you run down to an Oxxo and put money on their account.

One more time: They will tell you not to hang up. Try to get on another phone and call all the loved ones you think might be laying across that railroad track, and if everyone’s present and accounted for, hang up.

Then you’re supposed to call the police and report it, but our advice is, why bother? The police aren’t going to have the ability or the inclination to do anything about it. Just hang up and know that you are a smarty pants who didn’t fall for this.

’s not just fuel thieves.  We are also plagued with electricity thieves. The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) announced that during the first half of 2018, it lost revenue of 25.7 billion pesos (US $1.35 billion) due to electricity theft via illegal connections. The amount of power stolen represents 5.7% of all the electricity it distributed in the six-month period, the CFE said. But the bad news doesn’t end there.

Luis Bravo, the state-owned company’s director of corporate communications, said that an additional 5.9% of energy – equivalent to 34.25 billion pesos (US $1.8 billion) in monetary terms – was lost in the same period due to technical problems associated with its transmission. Technical problems is corporate communications speak for employees who don’t know what they’re doing.

All told, the CFE saw US $3.15 billion wiped off its bottom line due to“technical and non-technical losses.”

CFE is working on a scheme that could see people on low incomes obtain government subsidies to offset their electricity costs.

Pemex gets looted. This time, not by their crooked management, not by pipe line tappers, but this time by pirates at their drilling platforms out to sea.

In 2016, there were 48 acts of piracy in the Bay of Campeche and off the coast of Tabasco but last year the number of attacks on Pemex’s offshore platforms soared to 197, a surge of 310%. In 2017.

The modern-day pirates travel on fast boats to the drilling rigs, board them, threaten the workers with guns and knives and then steal objects of value that have included specialized equipment and building materials. Among the pirates’ loot are drilling equipment, measuring instruments, batteries, firefighting and diving suits, wire rope, non-slip aluminum floor plates, hoses, ladders, lighting, gate valves, metal beams and even screws.

President López Obrador asserted this week that criminals are also stealing crude oil directly from drilling platforms.

According to Pemex, some attacks have been carried out by large numbers of pirates who arrive at their oil rigs in a flotilla rather than a single vessel. Maybe they need more boats to carry their loot. last year, thieves got away with a large portion of a heliport. Pemex has invited the Mexican Navy to mow the bastards down. Well, we paraphrase.

Unofficially official. Fuel theft is now celebrated in ballads. “The man from Puebla went from being a sweet potato vendor to a fuel thief,” Puebla singer Tamara Alcántara begins a song that celebrates the culture of fuel thieves. “The truth is that thelike the devil, everyone knows that he’s around, but nobody has seen him,” the song continues.

Well, narcocorridos glorifies drug traffickers,so why can’t fuel thieves have their moment?lyrics often assert that the fuel thieves are not acting out of malice but necessity, á la Robin Hood.

“I’m from the Red Triangle, 100%poblano, they call me the sucker and with that I agree because I suck the pipes to help my people,” sings the front man of a group from Puebla. Another goes “. . . I’m here to sing to all the people who have a great time fu**ing over Pemex . . . Pemex belongs to the Mexicans so that means it’s ours, instead of letting the Gringos f**k it over we’re better off fu**ing it over ourselves.”

And let’s not forget the alters. Altars dedicated to the Saint Niño Huachicolero, or the Holy Infant.

With President López Obrador now cracking down hard on fuel theft and thus threateninghuachicoleros livelihoods, prayers to theNiño are likely at an all-time high.

Pemex station with no Pemex. Federal financial investigators have identified 13 Pemex gas stations that stopped buying gasoline from the state oil company in 2016. The Secretariat of Finance has filed formal complaints against the owners of the gas stations, charging them with operating with illicit resources, a crime related to fuel theft.

We’re Good with This. Following the recent killing of Rafael Murúa, a Southern Baja journalist, a local deputy for theHumanist Party is trying to push through a law that will bring a harsher penalty for anyone who molests or kills a hard-working reporter.

Hey! What about the slacker journalists? We have loved ones too, you know!

Employment opportunity: 2,000 driversare sought to drive the new tanker trucks bought to alleviate the fuel shortages.

Train strike. At least 26 trains have been halted by teacher blockades that went up earlier this week in Michoacán. The teachers laid down across the tracks, set up BBQs, and deployed various accoutraments of a comfortable camp-out. They’re demanding money they were not paid while on strike against such items as teacher competency testing an end to buying their jobs. The blocked trains now sitting idle have 2,288 rail cars, 96 carrying tankers of gasoline intended for distribution to relieve fuel shortages. Just wait till they find their Coca Cola won’t get through. In previous strikes they’ve stolen so many Coke trucks, the soft drink maker pulled out of the region.

Does it seem like we’re picking on Mexico this week? It does to us, too. It’s heartbreaking to see that with a GDP approaching $1.15 trillion, Mexico’s economy is now the 15th largest in the world, but its per-capita income of about $9,000 ranks just 70th. According to the GINI scale of income inequality, Mexico is the world’s 19th most unequal country – more so than even Nicaragua, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, and Chad. A shocking 43.6% of Mexicans are considered poor.

That destitution is the root cause of many of Mexico’s other ills. Drug trafficking, violence, corruption, impunity, migration – all are outgrowths of the country’s low wages, poor schools, inadequate healthcare, and we’re going to say it again, corruption. It all goes back to corruption and impunity from the consequences.

 These conditions seem more maddening in a country so blessed with resources, including fertile farmland, vast oil reserves, deep-water ports, a temperate climate, stunning beaches, and a population that the OECD ranks the most hard-working of the 37 nations surveyed. We’re frustrated.