Friday, February 28, 2014

Merrill Lynch: weak U.S. demand, domestic insecurity will continue to challenge Mexican economy in 2014

*Updated Aug. 13*
Guadalajara -
Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BOA-ML), which last August warned investors of a "looming risk of recession" in Mexico, said today that 2014 should be better, but stopped short of endorsing the government's growth prognosis.

"The economy will remain weak and growth will proceed slowly as the year unfolds," it reported, warning of soft domestic consumer demand. Wal-Mart sales in free fall a good barometer of a Mexican economy on the skids.

U.S. security consultant warns spring breakers about prime Mexican resorts

Mexico's "overall reputation for crime and kidnapping is deserved"

*Updated Mar. 1, 2014*
For the second time in less than 12 months, the U.S. security consulting firm Stratfor has warned American tourists in general and spring breakers in particular about travel to some of Mexico's most prestigious resorts, including Acapulco, Cancún, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán and others.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mexican high court awards punitive damages in Acapulco hotel electrocution case

Guadalajara -
In an unusual case demonstrating the application of U.S. tort law principles, Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court has socked a major Acapulco hotel chain with a 30 million peso judgment in a wrongful death case, overturning two lower court rulings which had awarded the plaintiffs far less. At the current exchange rate the judgment is worth more than $2.3 million dollars.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Guzmán girls, home grown in Sinaloa

Mexicanas de corazón - but born in the U.S.A.

Guadalajara -
When former Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera was captured by Mexican marines last week in a run of the mill Mazatlán condo, this woman was preparing breakfast for his twin toddlers, born in Los Angeles in 2011. Wife of Mexican drug lord delivers twin girls in U.S. hospital.

If everybody gets 15 minutes of fame, Emma Coronel Aispuro, 24, got hers in 2007 when she was named Miss Coffee and Miss Guava in a Sinaloa state competition. She met El Chapo during the crowning ceremony, Mexican sources say, and fell in love at first sight. They danced to a waltz, "Crossing hills and streams," performed by a local band. El Chapo's security team kept a close eye on everybody and everything that day.

Emma was born in the United States, and so enjoys automatic American citizenship. But she was raised in Mexico. Her father, Inés Coronel Barrera, was a major drug trafficker in his own right, specializing in hauling marijuana across the border near Agua Prieta, Sonora, just across from Douglas, Arizona. Mexican Federal Police arrested him on April 30, 2013, undoubtedly seeking clues as to the whereabouts of El Chapo himself. They got none.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dengue Fever ranking has Jalisco authorities concerned

Puerto Vallarta municipality particularly affected

Guadalajara -
Dengue Fever, a mosquito borne tropical illness which plagues many regions of the world, is a chronic problem in those Mexican states with a coastline.

In 2012, diagnosed cases in Yucatán rose almost 300% from the year before. Dengue fever roars on in Yucatán and all of Mexico. But last year the state made great strides in combating conditions which give rise to the illness, and the effort paid off. Dengue Fever still claims lives in Mérida, but far fewer (Jan, 4, 2014). This year Jalisco is in the bullseye.

Former Jalisco official: Catholic cardinal murdered in Guadalajara may have been yet another El Chapo victim

Guadalajara -
Monday, May 24, 1993 was not a good day for Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo.

An important Vatican official from Rome was due to arrive in Guadalajara that afternoon, and as the highest ranking Roman Catholic official in this city, the 66 year old Cardinal Posadas Ocampo prepared to welcome him. The cardinal, who also served as the archbishop of Mexico's second largest city, traveled to the international airport with his personal driver behind the wheel. The men pulled into a parking stall, but before they could exit the vehicle both were mowed down by a dozen or more .9mm rounds fired from AK-47s, standard issue for Mexican drug cartels. When the staccato bursts of the combat rifles ceased, several others lay dead, too.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Guzmán's purported sons threaten violence, while U.S. congressman calls for his immediate extradition

Everybody wants a piece of El Chapo

*Updated Feb. 24 - El Chapo already fighting possible U.S. extradition request*
Guadalajara -
U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R. Tex) said today that "the best option for Mexico" would be to immediately extradite to the United States former Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquín Guzmán, who was arrested yesterday by Mexican marines in the Pacific coast city of Mazatlán. Mexico nabs El Chapo.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Enrique finally gets the Biggest Enchilada

After 13 years of freedom, Shorty walks the perp walk

Did Mexico nab El Chapo Guzmán? Yep, and it even put him on display

Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam finally took the stage just after 2:00 p.m., confirming the identification as "100% certain." Minutes later Mexican marines escorted the Man Himself - El Chapo - across the tarmac to a waiting Blackhawk military helicopter

*This story was posted at 10:49 a.m. It was revised throughout the day as developments warranted*
Guadalajara -
Mexico's Milenio news network is reporting at this hour that the most wanted drug trafficker in the world, Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, may have been captured last night in the Pacific coast city of Mazatlán.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sex on the Beach* - at Puerto Vallarta, of course

At solving murder and mayhem, PV police are not so successful - but with REAL crime, they're pros

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco -
Everything happens in Vallarta.

If you're in the right place at the right time, you can see a free machine-gun-and-grenade show in Old Town.

Or the arrest of much wanted European terrorists, on the lam for more than two decades.

Or mayhem and madness featuring Canadian women - who are forever getting into trouble in Mexico.

And although Puerto Vallarta police may not be very good at solving serious crimes, like the murder of a U.S. citizen last August or the gangland execution of two Guadalajara attorneys in the heart of the tourist zone last October, they sure nailed this one cold HOT. From a Feb. 19 arrest report:

"Detained for sex on the public way. At 00:50 hours (12:50 a.m.) today, this department received reports that below the Rio Cuale bridge in Colonia Centro two naked women were seen engaging in sexual relations. On arrival at the bridge officers observed the suspects in flagrante delicto, advising them to get dressed immediately or they would be arrested for violation of municipal ordinances against public indecency. The women became very aggressive. They were taken into custody and later identified themselves to officers as M.K. and J.K, both 28 and both Canadian passport holders. After booking they were turned over to the Municipal Judge."

Jalisco prosecutor reports narco grave near Guadalajara-Chapala highway

In the last 90 days, regional drug war burial sites have yielded over 100 bodies

*Updated Apr. 6*
Guadalajara -
The Jalisco state prosecutor has reported the discovery of yet another mass narco grave near the community of La Calera, about three kilometers from the Guadalajara-Chapala highway. The area is just beyond the Guadalajara Metro Zone (GMZ), half way to Lake Chapala.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

U.S. national found murdered in Jocotepec, Jalisco

Third murder of a North American citizen at Lake Chapala in the last two weeks

*Updated content with victim identification*
Guadalajara -
The remains of an American citizen have been found at Jocotepec, Mexico, along the western shore of Lake Chapala, Jalisco state authorities reported late Thursday. They called the case a homicide.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

While "Tres Amigos" summit in Toluca, Mexico, leftist PRD senators ask Peña Nieto to renegotiate NAFTA

Guadalajara -
President Barack Obama arrived in Toluca at mid-day for the 2014 version of the North American Leaders' Summit, which happens to mark the 20th anniversary (Jan. 1, 1994) of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Toluca is the capital of the State of Mexico (EDOMEX), where president Enrique Peña Nieto launched his political career and served as governor for five yers (2005-2011) before being being elected the nation's chief executive in 2012. Toluca is but 45 minutes from Mexico City, and EDOMEX - a state long plagued by organized crime and narco violence - may be the safest place in the country today, with local, state and federal security forces well prepared for the big event.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mexican economy continues to shed jobs

Formal labor market crashed in January, with its worst performance in five years

Guadalajara -
In December MGR reported that last year, Mexico's economy created less than a third of the jobs needed to sustain its growing work force. Sluggish labor market a victim of Mexico's economic backslide in 2013. Today the government acknowledged January employment numbers were equally dismal.

The Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) reported that last month just under 22,000 new jobs were created, more than 50% less than the 44,169 created in January 2013. It was the lowest employment expansion since 2009, according to IMSS.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Michoacán belongs to organized crime: 55% of Mexicans

And 7% say NObody's running it

If ever a graph clearly proved a point at least of perception, this one does. In a public opinion survey taken by respected Mexican pollster Parametría in the last week of January, the results of which are now being published in major media sources, 55% of respondents said Michoacán belongs to drug cartels and criminals, not government at any level.

Survey participants - Mexican citizens from across the country - were asked the following question:

Mexicans have greater confidence in their military forces than any other public institution

On parade in Guadalajara, September 2012

Guadalajara -
Despite incessant criticisms of and allegations of human rights violation by the Mexican army, a just published survey indicates that military forces in this country enjoy far greater respect than any other national institution, exceeding even that of the powerful Roman Catholic Church.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Basque terrorists arrested in Puerto Vallarta

*Updated Feb. 18*
Guadalajara -
Two members of Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), the armed wing of the Basque National Liberation Movement whose members seek political independence from Spain and France and have waged a campaign of European terror for decades, have been arrested in Puerto Vallarta.

Juan Jesús Narváez Goñi and Itziar Alberdi Uranga were taken into custody by Mexican federal security forces early this morning on international warrants, according to a statement released today by authorities in Madrid.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Federal troops kill eight gunmen in Guerrero violence

Guadalajara -
Mexican army and marine units killed eight armed civilians today in separate incidents in southwestern Guerrero state, where community militiamen have an increasingly strong presence.

The first gun battle erupted in Zumpango del Rio, north of the state capital of Chilpancingo, and left four civilians dead and several others injured. The secretary of defense reported soldiers on routine patrol were fired upon when they entered the town. The surrounding area has been unstable since early 2013.

Mexico able to deliver security "only in certain zones"

From an op-ed in the New York Times of Feb. 13, 2014, addressing Michoacán violence and the rise of the autodefensas:

"Mexico, like several Latin American countries, is able to guarantee security and the rule of law only in certain zones. The lifeblood of law and order manages to flow near the heart of power, around the big cities, but the farther away we get, the weaker the pulse, and in some places there is none at all. Police officers are few and corrupt, judges live under threat from local despots and strongmen, and the legitimate authorities have been paid off by illegal ones. It’s like the American Wild West." Read the full article here.

Feb. 17 - Michoacán belongs to organized crime: 55% of Mexicans
Feb. 17 - Mexicans have greater confidence in their military forces than any other public institution

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mexico opens investigation into U.S. citizen missing in Michoacán, as long silence grows increasingly ominous

On Valentine's Day, where in the world is Harry Devert?

Guadalajara -
Foreigner visitors sometimes do strange things when they enter Mexico. Especially American ones.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Canadian press reports arrest in Ajijic murder case

Jalisco attorney general confirms developments for Mexican news agencies 18 hours later

*Updated Feb. 13*
Guadalajara -
The Toronto Star reported late today that an arrest has been made in the case of two Canadians who were murdered early Sunday morning at their residence in Ajijic, on Lake Chapala.

The Star reported that Julio Cesar Castello Casellas, 31, is in custody, and authorities are searching for his brother, Angel Dejesus, 22. The story, quoting Jalisco state prosecutor Luis Carlos Nájera as the primary source, is here.

Jalisco prosecutor "strongly opposed" to legal cannabis

Guadalajara -
Jalisco state attorney general Luis Carlos Nájera says his office will resist any proposal to decriminalize marijuana under state law, whether for recreational or alleged therapeutic purposes.

Yesterday legislative floor managers for the left wing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) announced they would begin hearings on such a proposal next week. A similar PRD effort is already underway in the Federal District, where the measure has a far better chance of approval because of PRD's dominance in the local assembly. PRD will push for legal pot in Mexico's Federal District.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Justice, Jalisco style

MGR's view -
Prosecutor's promise not consistent with state's recent track record

Oct. 15, 2012 - Puerto Vallarta police chief Roberto Rodríguez Preciado and his escorts are attacked by a machine gun and grenade squad in Old Town, blocks from the boardwalk. After 16 months, there have been no arrests, no prosecutions and no convictions. Case closed. Puerto Vallarta: tensions linger after brazen narco attack.

Mar. 31, 2013 - Relaxing on Easter Sunday evening, Jeff Lydell Comer, 45, is killed in one of two Guadalajara bar attacks which left eight persons dead and many injured. No one has been held legally accountable for Comer's murder. Case closed, for all practical purposes.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Canadian couple murdered at their Lake Chapala home

Idyllic Ajijic - or is it still?

*Updated Feb. 12*
Guadalajara -
Two elderly Canadian nationals were found dead yesterday in their home in Ajijic, Mexico, about 45 minutes southeast of the Jaliscan capital, local police have reported. Ajijic is a town on the shores of Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest fresh water body, and is home to a large community of American and Canadian expatriates.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Mexico second in medical tourism, government reports

Huge savings attract patients

Guadalajara -
Mexico earned almost three billion dollars in 2013 from so-called medical tourism, a federal agency has reported.

The National Institute of Statistics said the $2.85 billion which poured into the economy last year as a result of foreign nationals traveling to Mexico for surgery, hospitalizations and dental care made the country the second largest in the world for health tourism. Many of the consumers are from the United States and Canada, lured by prices which often are a fraction of the cost of the same services at home.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

PRI reforms earn Mexico yet another credit rating boost

Guadalajara -
For the second time in just over six weeks, a major international bond rater and investment house has upgraded Mexico's sovereign credit rating as a result of the recent enactment of constitutional reforms governing the structure and operations of national oil giant Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX).

Moody's Investor Services today upgraded Mexican sovereign debt from Baa1 - described as "medium grade, with some speculative elements and moderate credit risk" - to A3, which the company calls "upper-medium grade with low credit risk."

On Constitution Day, far Left pol files criminal complaint against Enrique Peña Nieto for treason

"The Procuraduría is in the service of the power mafia"

Guadalajara -
Today is the 97th anniversary of the adoption of Mexico's Constitution of 1917. But while president Enrique Peña Nieto and other government dignitaries celebrated the occasion in Querétaro, ultra leftist politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador filed a formal criminal denunciation with Mexico's attorney general, accusing the chief executive of committing high treason against the nation with his recent energy reforms opening oil company PEMEX, once a state monopoly, to private capital investment and foreign participation.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

In Michoacán, all the president's men arrive with cash and promises

Over $3 billion dollars for the "Free and Sovereign State of Michoacán de Ocampo"

Guadalajara -
President Enrique Peña Nieto and most of his Institutional Revolutionary Party cabinet arrived in Morelia, Michoacán at mid-day, amid heavy security provided by federal police, troops and the Estado Mayor Presidencial, Mexico's Secret Service. It was the PRI administration's second visit to the state since Jan. 13, when the government announced it would assume responsibility for local policing in an area known as the Tierra Caliente, or hot lands, where powerful drug cartels and community militias of questionable reliability present a threat to the president's fast track political and economic reform agenda and an embarrassment to the chief executive himself.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mexican tourism up in 2013, government reports

*Content updated Feb. 16*
Guadalajara -
Mexico's Secretary of Tourism (SECTUR) has reported that the industry grew by 9% in 2013, when 23.7 million foreign visitors arrived in the country. Those travelers spent an estimated $13.8 billion dollars in the domestic economy.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Yucatán prosecutor: remains of Ukrainian woman may have been found

DNA tests pending

Updated Mar. 21, 2014 - Yucatán prosecutor confirms: remains found in remote peninsular region are those of missing Ukrainian tourist

Mérida, Yucatán -
Almost 13 months after the brutalized body of her husband was found in remote Dzitás county southeast of this state capital, the Yucatán prosecutor announced Friday the remains of a woman recently located in the same area could be those of Ukrainian national Maryna Burakova.

In late 2012 Oleksandr Batychko, 25, and wife Maryna arrived on the peninsula for vacation, renting a car in Playa del Carmen. The couple drove west towards Valladolid and Mérida, apparently intending to visit the Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá.