Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Havana ushers in 56th year of the Cuban revolution

"El marxismo me enseñó cómo era la sociedad. Era como un hombre con los ojos vendados en un bosque, que ni siquiera sabe dónde está el norte o hacia el sur es. Si usted no tiene el tiempo llega a comprender realmente la historia de la lucha de clases, o por lo menos tener una idea clara de que la sociedad está dividida entre los ricos y los pobres, y que algunas personas subyugar y explotar a los demás, estás perdido en un bosque, sin saber nada -

"Marxism taught me what society was. I was like a blindfolded man in a forest, who doesn't even know where north or south is. If you don't eventually come to truly understand the history of the class struggle, or at least have a clear idea that society is divided between the rich and the poor, and that some people subjugate and exploit other people, you're lost in a forest, not knowing anything." - Fidel Castro, quoted in My Life: A Spoken Autobiography, by Ignacio Ramonet (2009).

Guadalajara -
From an MGR post on Oct. 26, 2011:

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Independent political candidates will take on party professionals in Mexico's 2015 mid-term elections

Guadalajara -
Mexico will hold the U.S. equivalent of mid-term elections on June 7, 2015, when all 500 seats of the House of Deputies, the lower legislative assembly, will be open for grabs. And for the first time in almost 70 years, independent candidates not affiliated with any political party will be allowed to participate.

In a year which has been devastatingly difficult for the ruling, center left Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the far left Democratic Revolution Party, many are curious to see how independents will fare. Over 120 - potentially a fourth of its membership - have announced plans to run for the Cámara de Diputados.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Catholic priest kidnapped in Guerrero found murdered

Guadalajara -
A Roman Catholic priest kidnapped late Sunday evening in the Mexican state of Guerrero has been found dead near Ciudad Altamirano, authorities there have reported.

Gregorio López Gorrostieta, 39, was seized Dec. 21 by an armed commando team after teaching a class at a local seminary. No ransom for his release was ever demanded.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

41,000 dead on Enrique Peña Nieto's watch

Guadalajara -
In the 23 month period beginning Dec. 1, 2012 and ending Oct. 31, 2014, Mexico recorded 41,015 homicides, according to the Tijuana based news magazine Zeta and the Milenio network this month.

With a population of about 120 million people, that equates to 34.2 murders per 100,000 residents, a common international standard for measuring criminal violence.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Mexican states each owe on average $34.27 billion USD

Local government spending continues to run amock

Guadalajara -
Almost three years ago MGR reported that "state indebtedness now equals about 70% of federal revenue sharing entitlements. Mexico's 32 states sustain themselves, in large part, with funds from the federal government (based upon population and other factors). Most of what they're entitled to is now pledged to banks, bondholders and investors as security for long term indebtedness, leaving little room for economic development." Increasing poverty and rising state debt result in poor economic report for Mexico (Feb. 10, 2012).

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mexican Ambassador to the U.K. responds to Proceso's Big Lie

More journalistic GIGO - garbage in, garbage out

Guadalajara -
Last week Mexico's sensationalist Proceso News Magazine, a checkout line tabloid rivaling the National Inquirer, published an article implying Mexico's federal government - all the way up to the president himself, perhaps - knew of the kidnapping and execution of 43 college students in Iguala, Guerrero on Sept. 26. in real time, as the brutal events were actually unfolding.

Here is an electronic redaction of that story in Spanish: Iguala: la Historia no Official.

The wild account - thick on icing but almost devoid of cake - was quickly picked up by some in the foreign press, including the always gossipy Huffington Post and the U.K.'s respected and usually reliable The Guardian, which carried the evidence-lacking story under the eye-catching headline, "Mexico authorities ‘knew about attack on students as it happened’."

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mexican minimum wage in 2015 will be $4.68 USD daily

*Content updated Dec. 21*
Guadalajara -
Mexico's National Minimum Wage Commission (Conasami) decided Friday to recommend the raising of mandatory 2015 compensation by 4.25%, slightly above the anticipated 3.54% inflation predicted for the year ahead by the nation's central bank, the Bank of Mexico (Banixco).

Friday, December 19, 2014

Radical students and teachers detain Acapulco's mayor, releasing him only after a fierce harangue

Guadalajara -
Despite the presence of thousands of federal troops and police in Mexico's largest Pacific coast resort the week before Christmas, not even its mayor is safe.

Radical students and teachers seized Acapulco Mayor Luis Walton around noon today, just after he exited a holiday reception ceremony at the city's international airport. Walton is a member of the far left Citizens Movement political party, and was elected in 2012.

New Cuba travel options could eventurally lure U.S. visitors away from Mexico's Riveria Maya

Cancún, Quintana Roo -
The new chapter which was opened in this week in U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations has not yet unbolted the door barring American travel-at-will to the island. But it soon may, if and when the Congress begins to dismantle the 54 year old trade embargo which prohibits such trips without special authorization from the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mariela Castro: Cuba will never go down capitalist road

"It should not be thought that to improve relations with the United States, Cuba is going to renounce the very ideas for which it has fought so long" - Raúl Castro, president of Cuba, Dec. 20, 2014

*Updated content Dec. 20 (below)*
Guadalajara -
One day after Washington and Havana jointly announced an historic diplomatic thaw which many believe will lead to the eventual cancellation of the almost 52 year old U.S. economic embargo of the island, the daughter of president Raúl Castro emphasized today the one party nation will never accept capitalism as its economic model.

"If they're hoping by these changes to make Cuba return to capitalism and to once again become a servile nation at the feet of United States economic hegemony, they must be dreaming," said Mariela Castro, niece of former president Fidel Castro who stepped down for health reasons in 2006 and later resigned his duties in 2008.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cuba swaps Alan Gross for "Miami Three" prisoners

USAID undercover operative released, in first step of a U.S.-Cuba diplomatic normalization process

*Updated Dec. 25 (below)*
Guadalajara -
After more than five years in Cuban custody, Alan Gross is a free man this morning.

The island government traded the former Maryland resident for three of its own citizens in American custody since 1998, the remaining members of a group originally known in Cuba as the Miami Five.

Cuba also released a U.S. spy who had been imprisoned for more than 20 years. The unidentified man is said to be a Cuban national who provided critical intelligence to Washington which led to the arrest of the Miami Five. American officials have said they will not identify him for security reasons.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Yucatán employers pay lowest wages in Mexico

Mérida, Yucatán -
The Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) has reported that Yucatán employers pay the lowest wages in the nation, averaging 211 pesos a day ($14.31 USD), or 6,541 monthly ($443.46 USD).

Both amounts represent gross pay, before deductions for payroll taxes and retirement accounts.

Workers in the Federal District, who are the highest paid in the nation, earn on average 48% more ($27.39 daily, $849 monthly).

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

DEA arrests Guerreros Unidos drug cartel operatives, in major trafficking ring with Chicago connection

Guadalajara -
A key operative of Mexico's Guerreros Unidos drug cartel has been arrested by U.S. Drug Enforcement agents in Oklahoma, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois announced today.

Pablo Vega Cuevas, 40, and his brother-in-law, Alexander Figueroa, 37, were taken into custody yesterday morning at an undisclosed location in southeast Oklahoma.

Three other men were arrested in the Chicago area, while another three suspects are still being sought. One may have returned to Mexico.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Banixco: bleeding peso stabilized by U.S. dollar auction

Mexico's top financial officials change their strategy in less than a week

Mexico City -
The Mexican Currency Exchange Commission (MCEC) will begin electronically auctioning U.S. dollars this week as it tries to apply a financial tourniquet to the peso, which is facing its worst value crisis in years.

MCEC, which consists of the nation's central bank (Bank of Mexico) and the Finance Ministry, known as the Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público, plans to sell off $200 million dollars every day the peso declines in value by 1.5% or more against the American greenback. The Mexican peso has been ravaged in recent weeks by collapsing oil prices, and has lost nearly 13% of its value in 2014. U.S. dollar skyrockets against sliding peso.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Peña Nieto wins support on security plan debate from all three major political parties, as the "Pact for Mexico" returns - at least for now

Guadalajara -
In a surprise development which will surely cheer the two year old administration of president Enrique Peña Nieto. the leaders of Mexico's three main political parties said today the Senate and House of Deputies will move ahead to immediately consider constitutional amendments forwarded to Congress by the president a week ago.

Argentine forensic experts offer guarded prognosis for identification of remaining 42 Iguala students

*Updated Jan. 20, 2015 (below)*
Guadalajara -
Grief mixed with resignation was the prevailing mood in much of Mexico yesterday, as Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam confirmed that a bone fragment examined by experts at the University of Innsbruck, Austria returned a positive DNA match to family members of 20 year old Alexander Mora Venancio, a student at the Normal Rural de Ayotzinapa teachers' college.

Mora and 42 companions from the same school disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero on Sept. 26. On Nov. 7 Karam told a news conference that the students were executed and their remains incinerated at a trash dump in Cocula, less than a half hour drive from Iguala. His conclusion was based upon the testimony of several members of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel, who told federal prosecutors they were hired to burn the bodies and pulverize the bones and teeth of the victims, placing them in plastic bags afterwards.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Mexican senators, deputies will have a very merry Christmas with substantial year end bonuses

Mérida, Christmas Eve, 2010

Guadalajara -
It's December, and that means millions of Mexicans are about to receive the country's legally guaranteed aguinaldo, a term best translated as Christmas bonus.

DNA confirmation made on first of Mexico's 43 missing college students; leftist leader says PDR continues to harbor some of those responsible for Iguala massacre

Guadalajara -
Mexico's Procuraduría General de la República, the federal Attorney General's office, confirmed today that human remains found near a city trash dump in Cocula, Guerrero more than a month ago belong to one of the 43 missing college students who vanished from Iguala, Guerrero on Sept. 26.

The students were kidnapped by local police officers and handed over to executioners on the payroll of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel, who killed them soon after. Their bodies were burned and later discarded in a river. All hope fades for families of 43 missing students, as Attorney General Karam delivers devastating news.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Mexico's House of Deputies can even change the time

Cancún, Quintana Roo -
Mexico's lower legislative chamber, the Cámara de Diputados, created a new national time zone late today, which will cover the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo.

The Southeastern Time Zone (STZ), the nation's fourth, will cause clocks to be advanced one hour in the state which is home to Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Isla de Mujeres, Tulum and other popular destinations.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Oaxaca school teachers again abandon their students

Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca -
Members of the radical teachers' union Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE), which last year wreaked havoc in Mexico City, Oaxaca state and other locations for many weeks in a failed effort to stop historic education reforms approved overwhelmingly by the federal Congress, yesterday cancelled classes for more than 1.3 million students in 14,000 elementary and high schools in this impoverished Pacific coast state.

Peña Nieto sends proposed constitutional amendments to Mexico's Congress

Guadalajara -
In Mexico City yesterday the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) administration of president Enrique Peña Nieto submitted a proposal for the amendment of seven separate provisions of the country's federal constitution, in an effort to strip local governing bodies of the legal independence which has enabled them to be infiltrated by organized crime. Peña Nieto offers new security plan for Mexico.

Monday, December 1, 2014

On his second anniversary, Enrique Peña Nieto hits rock bottom in Mexican polls

EPN has the lowest favorable rating for a president since 1995

Guadalajara -
Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto, who was sworn in two years ago today as the first Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) chief executive since 2000, has posted his lowest approval rates since taking office and the lowest in the nation since almost two decades ago, according to survey results published today by two major media sources.

Mexico City's respected El Universal newspaper reported that a survey it commissioned last month showed the president with a 41% approval rate, while 50% disapproved of the job being done by his PRI administration.

U.S. dollar skyrockets against sliding Mexican peso

"The open market determines the exchange rate. The price of a dollar is determined by the offer and the demand" - Finance Minister Luis Videgaray

*Updated Dec. 11*
Guadalajara -
Mexico's national currency has had a difficult year against the American dollar, and may fall further in the weeks ahead according to the country's independent central bank, Banixco.

Exchange rates today will average 13.84 to 13.92 pesos per dollar nationwide. On Friday those wanting to buy dollars paid up to 14.20 pesos in major Mexico City financial institutions.

Bank of Mexico analysts attributed the peso's decline to falling crude oil prices, and predicted the exchange rate is unlikely to fall below 14 pesos for the remainder of the year.