Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Violence against Catholic clergy reported in border state of Tamaulipas

One priest refused to perform a Black Mass

Guadalajara -
The Mexican state of Tamaulipas, just south of places like Brownsville and McAllen, Texas, is a major drug trafficking corridor and the scene of frequent narco violence. MGR story links are below.

This week the Roman Catholic diocese of Tamaulipas reported that six of its parish priests have been the victims of gang or organized crime violence in recent days.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Mexican on death row asks Peña Nieto, U.S. State Dept. for help as he prepares for the end

"Please keep your promise, Mr. President"

Guadalajara -
Édgar Tamayo Arias, scheduled to die in Texas next month for a murder he committed in 1994, has appealed directly to Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto for assistance.

In a letter released today by a supporter, Tamayo said he recalls listening to a radio interview of Peña Nieto during the 2012 presidential campaign, in which the PRI chief executive promised that he would protect the interests of Mexicans living outside the country.

"Well, I'm one of those, and I need him to carry out that promise and help me," wrote Tamayo.

Mexican army captures Cancún hotel zone executioner

Cancún, Quintana Roo -
In the heart of this international tourist mecca Mexican army regulars today captured the local Gulf Cartel "boss of the plaza." Prosecutors say he is wanted for drug trafficking and at least three homicides, including the execution of two men whose bodies were dumped on prominent Kukulcán boulevard in September 2012. Red alert in Cancún hotel zone.

That case surprised local law enforcement officials because of its occurrence in the Cancún tourist district, a space not commonly invaded by sicarios, the cartel execution teams.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

In Mexico, 2013 was the year of Enrique Peña Nieto

MGR's view

"Mexico is entering a new stage in its history. My promise and commitment is to carry Mexico to that place which it should occupy on the world stage" - Inauguration Day, Dec. 1, 2012

Guadalajara -
As a 2013 news maker in the Latin world, no one can compete with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. Last March, less than 90 days after he took the constitutional oath of office, the president said his goal was not merely to manage Mexico as a passing political caretaker, but to transform it. EPN's three smart decisions. He is off to a very powerful start, with 60 months left to complete the process.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Philippines on the alert for presence of Sinaloa Cartel

Expanding Pacific markets for Mexican mega traffickers

Guadalajara -
The government of the Philippines has announced that it will investigate whether Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel is operating in the country after the arrest this week of three persons who allegedly have ties to the far flung narcotics organization.

Sinaloa, generally known in Mexico as the Cartel of the Pacific, is controlled by Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, the most wanted drug trafficker in the world. Chicago calls El Chapo Guzmán "Public Enemy # 1."

Earlier this year authorities reported the Sinaloa Cartel has 90% domination of the U.S. drug market.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Condemned Mexican's approaching date with Texas execution chamber poses international risks for U.S.

MGR Legal Analysis -
Obama administration urges Texas to grant a stay, but Gov. Rick Perry says no

Guadalajara -
If all goes according to carefully choreographed procedures at the Huntsville Unit of the Texas State Penitentiary, Édgar Tamayo Arias will draw his last breath sometime on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014.

His legal problems may end that day, although not in the way he would like. But those of the United States could just be beginning.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mérida Christmas

Solemnidad de Santa María, Madre de Dios, 1 Jan. 2011, Iglesia de San Cristóbal, Mérida,Yucatán

Dec. 11 - Guadalupanos are on the march throughout Mexico

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Mexican energy reforms will lure in $10 billion dollars in immediate investment, official says

"Energy is the heart of our economy"

Guadalajara -
The petroleum industry reforms just enacted in Mexico will generate at least $10 billion dollars in domestic and foreign capital investment during the current administration of president Enrique Peña Nieto, which ends Dec. 1, 2018.

That was the prediction of the president of this country's Energy Regulatory Commission, Xavier Salazar Diez de Sollano, in a weekend interview with a major Mexican national news service. "The PEMEX reforms are the most important in decades," he added.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mexico's sovereign credit rating upgraded on PEMEX reform news

The response by international investment advisers is immediate and positive

Guadalajara -
The American financial services company Standard & Poor's (S&P) has upgraded Mexico's sovereign credit rating to BBB+ as a result of the recent enactment of constitutional reforms governing the structure and operations of national oil giant Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX).

The reforms were signed into law yesterday by president Enrique Peña Nieto, and took effect at 12:01 a.m. today following publication in Mexico's Federal Register. PEMEX reforms are now the law.

Friday, December 20, 2013

PEMEX reforms are now officially the law

"These reforms are going to protect the national wealth that belongs to all Mexicans" - Peña Nieto

They were signed today by president Enrique Peña Nieto at the National Palace in Mexico City, and here is what he told legislators during the ceremony (redacted and translated by MGR):

"I congratulate you for demonstrating that Mexico can transform itself in a democratic way, and that it has the capacity to make deep institutional changes. By advancing responsible public policies and by your careful legislative work, you have accomplished things which will convert our energy sector into a genuine source of national economic growth.

Mexican minimum wage in 2014 will be $5 dollars - a day

*Update - Dec. 20, 2014 - Mexican minimum wage in 2015 will be $4.68 USD daily*

Guadalajara -
On the first day of the new year the minimum wage in Mexico will rise 3.9%, to a national average of 65.53 pesos. At this morning's exchange rate of 12.95 pesos, that's approximately $5.06 USD per day.

Mexico is divided into two economic zones for minimum wage purposes, with workers in metropolitan zones where the cost of living is higher receiving a little more for their labor. In zone A, which includes Mexico City and Guadalajara, the new minimum will be 67.28 pesos on Jan. 1. In Zone B it will rise to 63.77 pesos.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mexican Attorney General hands over domestic security reports to Associated Press

*Updated Dec. 21*
Guadalajara -
The Mexico City newspaper El Universal reports today that the Mexican Attorney General was recently compelled under this country's freedom of information laws to turn over domestic security reports covering president Enrique Peña Nieto's first year in office to the Associated Press.

AP first filed an informal request, according to the paper, but when the AG refused on national security grounds, the press organization appealed to an administrative board, which found in its favor under transparency rules.

Key excerpts from the reports, according to El Universal's redaction, include the following:

U.S. Senate approves pact for transborder oil exploration

PEMEX reforms linked to congressional action north of the border

Guadalajara -
The United States Senate Wednesday evening approved the U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement, legislation lauded by the White House as "an environmentally safe and responsible manner of exploring, developing and sharing the income from petroleum resources in the deepest waters beyond the territorial jurisdiction of each country."

The agreement, part of an omnibus budget package which the Senate will send to the president, covers offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and could affect up to 1.5 million acres of oil and natural gas reserves.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Not much democracy in "Democratic" Revolution Party

Two expulsions follow PEMEX vote

Guadalajara -
The National Executive Committee of Mexico's far left Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) wasted no time in meting out the maximum punishment on members who voted in favor of the just passed PEMEX reforms, which officially were declared adopted by the nation's federal congress today.

PRD began expulsion proceedings against two state assembly deputies who cast affirmative votes on the constitutional amendments, which sped through the Senate and House of Deputies last week and had been ratified by 26 of Mexico's 32 states as of this morning, thus opening PEMEX to private capital investment and foreign technical expertise. Only 17 state votes were necessary for the amendments to become law.

World Health Organization: Mexico is the world's largest consumer of alcoholic beverages

"Our country is one of the most dangerous on the American continent for its propensity towards excessive consumption" - La Jornada

A merchant in the artisan famous town of Tlaquepaque, just outside of Guadalajara, displays offerings

Guadalajara -
Per capita consumption of alcohol is higher in Mexico than anywhere else on the planet, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported.

The average Mexican male consumes 32 liters of pure alcohol annually, and the average female 18. Those numbers represent approximately seven and four U.S. gallons, respectively. "Pure alcohol" estimates were calculated by reference to average alcohol content in most beers, wines and spirits.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mexico, Turkey sign drug trafficking accord

MGR's view -
Who is committed to the drug war?

Ankara -
In a further sign of his administration's commitment to the 84 month old drug war, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto today approved a memorandum of understanding with Turkish president Abdullah Gül, in which both nations have agreed to cooperate in combatting international drug trafficking and terrorism. Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam signed the document for Mexico.

Monday, December 16, 2013

San Luis Potosí puts PEMEX reforms over the top; Enrique Peña Nieto orders immediate publication of constitutional amendments

For the first time in 75 years, Mexican oil production is no longer a state monopoly

Guadalajara -
Legislators in San Luis Potosí voted unanimously this morning to ratify various amendments to the federal constitution of Mexico, which will open Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) to private capital and foreign technical expertise. San Luis was the 17th state to ratify, and the last needed for formal adoption of the provisions.

This afternoon the measure passed in the Chihuahua state assembly by a vote of 26-6.

Once debate began on the PEMEX reforms, they flew through the Senate, the House of Deputies and the required number of states in less than one week.

Leftist opposition to the amendments quickly withered and proved insufficient to deter the heavy majorities which voted in favor of them. But Mexico's main left wing party, PRD, says it will continue its fight in court. Jalisco and all of Yucatán peninsula approve PEMEX reforms.

Interpol asks for help in locating Rafael Caro Quintero

Convicted murdered of U.S. DEA agent remains at large months after Jalisco court freed him

Guadalajara -
The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) today asked for public help in locating convicted murderer Rafael Caro Quintero. Interpol issued a press release at its headquarters in Lyon, France, suggesting the former boss of the defunct Guadalajara Cartel could be almost anywhere in Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean.

Caro Quintero was convicted of the brutal February 1985 torture and murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Agent Enrique Camarena Salazar at a Guadalajara safe house. A Jalisco federal appeals court freed him in early August on a legal technicality, after he had served 28 years of a 40 year sentence. The death house on Lope de Vega.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mexico the world leader in 2013 kidnappings

Jalisco among the 10 most dangerous states

*Updated Mar. 7, 2014*
Guadalajara -
The Mexican news site SinEmbargo.com reports that this country led the world in kidnappings for ransom during the 12 month period which ended Sept. 30. (Also: Virtual kidnappings plague Mexico).

Following Mexico, in order, were India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Venezuela. In 2012 Mexico was in second place, just below Nigeria.

The 10 Mexican states with the highest percentage of kidnappings per capita are Chihuahua, Coahuila, Michoacán, Morelos, Guerrero, Veracruz, Durango, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Jalisco.

Jalisco and all of Yucatán peninsula approve PEMEX reforms; Guadalajara protesters dispersed with tear gas

16 state legislatures give the green light to constitutional amendments; PRD will pursue legal fight

The Hidalgo state assembly held a midnight session Friday to approve the changes

*Updated content: PEMEX state ratification is only one short of the constitutional requirement*
Guadalajara -
As of Sunday evening, 16 of the Mexican Republic's 31 states and one Federal District have ratified oil reforms which will open Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) to private capital and foreign participation. Because the changes amend Mexico's federal constitution, 17 local jurisdictions must approve them. Mexican states rush to endorse PEMEX reforms. Proponents of the new laws, which easily passed the Senate and the House of Deputies by heavy centrist party majorities last week, now lack but one state's vote.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Mexico already looking ahead to 2018 presidential election - or at least some savvy politicians are

MGR News Analysis - It's never too early to send up the trial balloons

*Updated Feb. 8, 2014 (below)*
Guadalajara -
Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto just completed his first year in office two weeks ago, and as he told reporters on Dec. 1, he's only 7K into his six year marathon. But that hasn't stopped the press from speculating in recent weeks about who's likely to make a run in 2018. Some have as much as declared their candidacy, while others are merely being suggested as viable or probable candidates. The leading contenders, according to political pundits in this country, include these:

Lesbian couple wed today in Guadalajara, where Jalisco gay marriage rules are a morass of legal inconsistency

The first same sex marriage in the state's 190 year history

Guadalajara -
Six weeks ago the Jalisco state legislature passed a civil union bill which will allows gay couples to enter into contractual arrangements with all the legal benefits and attributes of traditional heterosexual marriage, without being called that. It was signed immediately by PRI governor Aristóteles Sandoval, and will take effect on the first day of 2014. Same sex civil unions now approved in Jalisco.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mexican states rush to endorse PEMEX reforms

State assembly ratification process moves like wildfire - 7 down, 10 to go

Guadalajara -
Late Tuesday evening Mexico's Senate opened the door to private investment and foreign participation in Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), the state controlled oil monopoly, and less than 24 hours later the lower federal chamber, the Cámara de Diputados, did the same. The aggregate vote in the two houses was 449-162, almost a three to one legislative majority.

Precipitous decline in complaints against Mexican troops in 2013, Human Rights Commission reports

Guadalajara -
Mexico's National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) reports that complaints against armed forces personnel for alleged mistreatment of civilians dropped 50% in the year about to end.

Foreign monitors, particularly Human Rights Watch, have repeatedly criticized the Mexican army for claimed human rights violations during the country's arduous drug war, launched seven years ago this week by former president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa. The evidence the organization has produced has been anemic in the extreme, however. Hype always present in Mexico's drug war, especially when HRW comes to town.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mexican domestic security evaluation on the way, says top PRI government official

An analysis is promised for March 2014

Guadalajara -
During last year's long and arduous presidential campaign, PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto promised he would dramatically reduce violence, especially homicides, in the first 100 days of his administration - up to 50%, he said.

Mexico's Cámara de Diputados - a House out of order?

Catfights and deputies in jockey briefs, all over PEMEX reforms

Guadalajara -
Mexico's lower federal legislative body is the Cámara de Diputados. It's 500 members are the direct equivalent of the United States House of Representatives.

In both chambers raucous members are from time to time admonished with the always reliable, "the House will be in order." In fairness to U.S. legislators, disruptive behavior is rather less common north of the border than it is south.

Exit Stage Left: PRD says "The Pact for Mexico is dead"

"The PEMEX reforms killed the Pact" - Jesús Zambrano, PRD chairman

Guadalajara -
The national chair of the far left wing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) says it will not rejoin the much promoted Pact for Mexico, a year old agreement by Mexico's three major political parties to put aside partisan bickering and work together for the common good.

PRD left the pact on Nov. 30, in protest over the Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) constitutional amendments which yesterday were passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Mexico's federal congress. Energy reform vote nears; PRD exits Pact for Mexico.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mexico's Chamber of Deputies wastes no time, approves PEMEX reforms

In just one day the national congress votes for a major overhaul of the ailing state oil monopoly

Guadalajara -
Less than 24 hours after the Mexican Senate's historic vote in favor of constitutional amendments which would open Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) to private capital investment and participation by foreign enterprises, the Cámara de Diputados adopted the same measure moments ago by a vote of 354-134.

Earlier in the evening deputies voted to fast track the legislation and not refer the energy reforms to subcommittees, following the lead of the Senate several days ago. PEMEX amendments are on legislative "fast track".

Guadalupanos are on the march throughout Mexico

Mexico's PEMEX enters the 21st century, as senators open the door to foreign expertise and private capital

PRI, PAN show their political muscle in the Senate, routing leftist opposition to constitutional reforms

The name won't change, but the bloated, broke, inefficient state bureaucracy will be replaced by a modern oil company with capital and technology to develop Mexico's vast offshore oil and gas fields

Related story: Dec. 11 - Mexico's Chamber of Deputies wastes no time, approves PEMEX reforms
Guadalajara -
Political history was made tonight on Mexico's Capitol Hill when a a solid majority of the Senate voted to end the state's three quarters of a century old monopoly on the oil exploration and refining industry.

After a day long debate the roll was called at 11:53 p.m. The vote was 95 in favor and 28 opposed.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mexican leftists go to court to stop PEMEX reforms

Guadalajara -
With a final Senate vote on energy reforms just hours away, the leaders of Mexico's far left Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) have filed an emergency appeal with the nation's Supreme Judicial Court (SCJN) in an effort to shut down the ongoing debate. PEMEX constitutional amendments are on the legislative "fast track".

Deputies and party bosses of Mexico's "Aztec Sun" contend that any modifications to the internal structure of the nation's state owned oil monopoly, Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), must be put to a national citizens' referendum. The administration of president Enrique Peña Nieto says otherwise and has declined to do so.

Foreign Policy names Peña Nieto a top Global Thinker

Guadalajara -
The prestigious American magazine Foreign Policy has named Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto one of the world's top 100 thinkers and decision makers.

Editors had high praise for the 47 year old Institutional Revolutionary Party president, noting that he embarked on an ambitious course of multiple political, economic and social reforms almost the moment he was sworn in on Dec. 1, 2012. Enrique Peña Nieto at one year: a marathon, not a sprint.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

PEMEX amendments are on the legislative "fast track"

Mexican literary giant has an opinion on oil issues, too

Wall art in Guadalajara's Colonia Americana: "PEMEX belongs to all of us"

Dec. 13 - Mexican states rush to endorse PEMEX reforms
Dec. 11 - Mexico's Chamber of Deputies wastes no time, approves PEMEX reforms
Dec. 11 - Mexico's PEMEX: senators open the door to foreign expertise and private capital
Guadalajara -
Debate has opened in Mexico City on a controversial proposal to open the nation's state owned oil monopoly, Petróleos Mexicanos, to private capital investment. PEMEX was established 75 years ago, when president Lázaro Cárdenas nationalized the Mexican petroleum industry on March 18, 1938, expelling foreign oil companies from the country and seizing their assets.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mexico's congress slams through political reforms, as it prepares to take up energy ones

Legislative term limits, and a new presidential swearing in date

Guadalajara -
Mexico's congress had a busy week as it pushed through several political reforms, including term limits for its members, in just five days. Tomorrow it will begin final debate on proposed amendments to the federal constitution which would allow private capital investment in PEMEX, the state controlled oil monopoly. A vote is likely to occur late Sunday night or early Monday morning, with passage almost assured according to many observers. Forbes praises Peña Nieto's "courageous" energy policy.

Sluggish labor market a victim of Mexico's economic backslide in 2013

"The notion of reducing poverty without economic growth and the generation of quality jobs is illusionary" - U.N. official in Mexico

Guadalajara -
Only one of three persons seeking work in this country was able to secure formal employment in 2013, Mexico's Banco Base has reported in an end of the year analysis. The nation needs to create at least 1.5 million jobs a year to keep up with demographic demands, but in 2013 fewer than half a million full time positions opened.

The poor report card will not surprise most, since Mexico's gross domestic product will be lucky to grow a paltry 1% this year. Official government reports will be out in about a month, and they're not expected to be pretty. Wal-Mart sales in free fall a good barometer of Mexican economy on the skids. The effects of a deaccelerating economy, which some say is in full recession, are being felt throughout the nation. Mexico's economic woes take a toll on Yucatán business.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Body count continues at newly discovered narco burial site in Guadalajara outskirts

Work of the Matazetas, authorities say

Zapopan County, Jalisco -
Technicians and forensic pathologists continue to work today at a mass burial site in this suburban county outside Guadalajara, where 17 bodies have been discovered since the beginning of the week. Authorities say all were most probably victims of the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), better known here as Los Matazetas (the Zeta killers).

Thursday, December 5, 2013

United Nations selects Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court for prestigious Defense of Human Rights Award

*Updated Dec. 10*
Guadalajara -
The Supreme Judicial Court of Mexico (SCJN) is one of several winners of the United Nations 2013 Defense of Human Rights Award, given out every five years by the world organization.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

From his Havana jail cell, Alan Gross implores President Obama to free him

Translation: "Mr. President, please trade me for the Miami Five Four Three"

*Updated May 6, 2014*
Guadalajara -
Today marks the fourth anniversary of the arrest of former Maryland resident Alan Phillip Gross, who is serving a 15 year sentence for state security crimes in Cuba. In desperation, he reached out to the only person whom he says can help him: the president of the United States.

Convicted murderer of DEA agent writes Peña Nieto, asking for "due process" and protection from extradition

"I seek justice, not American vengeance"

Guadalajara -
Former Guadalajara Cartel boss and convicted murderer Rafael Caro Quintero, on the lam since a federal appeals court in Jalisco ordered his release from custody on technical grounds on Aug. 8, has appealed directly to Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto, asking that he be spared an "absurd persecution" by the U.S. government.

Caro Quintero, 70, is wanted both by Mexico and the United States following a Nov. 6 decision by the Mexican Supreme Judicial Court which overturned the lower tribunal's ruling and and ordered that he be returned to prison. Caro Quintero was convicted of the February 1985 torture and murder of 37 year old Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena Salazar at a Guadalajara safe house.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Enrique Peña Nieto at one year: a marathon, not a sprint

MGR News Analysis -
The trail leads through Michoacán, and a cabinet member publicly frets over administration progress

Guadalajara -
In real life, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto is no slouch on the track.

Well, on the 10K anyway. How he'll do on the 42.195 kilometer course, to which he compared his presidency Sunday, is yet to be seen. Peña Nieto just completed 12 months of his 72 month term.

"I'm running a full marathon, and I've only done 7K," he told reporters over the weekend while asking for patience.