Mexico 2012-2018

Written by  //  November 7, 2018  //  Americas, Mexico  //  Comments Off on Mexico 2012-2018

7 November
Mexico map7 November
AMLO’s Move to Scrap an Airport Raises Fears of a Return to Mexico’s Statist Past
(World Politics Review) The announcement sent Mexican stocks into a free fall, while the Mexican peso lost almost 4 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar. The reaction of the markets was attributed less to the cancellation of the new airport, which would have stood out as an oasis in a city of crumbling infrastructure, and more to the process that the incoming presidential administration used to legitimize its decision.
AMLO, as Lopez Obrador is widely known in Mexico, has never been the darling of markets. His populist rhetoric and statist tendencies have raised suspicions from investors and the international business community throughout his long political career, dating back to the 1980s. However, during this year’s presidential campaign, AMLO softened his stance toward the private sector, appeasing international investors. This led to a brief honeymoon with the markets, which extended after his landslide election victory in July. All this changed following the public consultation on the future of the new airport.
The airport itself is economically vital, as the need to upgrade the airport capacity in Mexico’s capital has become more urgent in recent decades.
The consultation was a dubious process that highlighted AMLO’s populism and has some observers fearing a return to Mexico’s statist past. First, the referendum was not organized by the National Electoral Institute, which is constitutionally mandated to oversee such exercises. Second, Morena ultimately determined the location of voting booths and the number of ballots. It quickly became apparent that there was a geographic bias in the placement of voting booths, with the majority of them in states highly supportive of AMLO. Even in Mexico City, many upmarket neighborhoods that are typically anti-AMLO and generally supported the new airport project lacked a single voting booth. Then, only an estimated 1.2 percent of eligible voters turned out to cast their ballots—hardly an indication of popular will.

13 July
Graciana del Castillo: A Fork in the Road for Mexico
The issue worrying almost half the Mexican electorate is whether the fork that the country just took will put it on the dictatorial and economically unsustainable path taken by Venezuela. But to indulge this fear is to misjudge Mexico’s new president.
(Project Syndicate) The challenges that AMLO faces cannot be underestimated. He will need to address a combination of economic malaise and staggering levels of poverty, inequality, and debt, aggravated by severe deterioration of political and security conditions. The watchdog group Transparency International(TI) ranks Mexico in the first quartile of countries for corruption, and the crime rate is the highest on record, with over 100,000 homicides reported during current President Enrique Peña Nieto’s six-year term. Impunity rates are also among the world’s highest. Although a modern legal framework largely exists, the rule of law and political accountability urgently need to be strengthened.
The issue worrying almost half the electorate is whether the fork that Mexico took will put it on the dictatorial and economically unsustainable path taken by Venezuela. But to indulge this fear is to misjudge AMLO fundamentally. His National Plan, and his commitment to combating corruption, will more likely put Mexico on the less-known but more sustainable path that Uruguay has followed.

2 July
Mexico election: López Obrador vows profound change after win
(NYT) Mexico  has a new president: Andrés Manuel López Obrador. For more, read Edwin F. Ackerman in Jacobin; Pamela K. Starr in The Times; or my colleague Bret Stephens’s column.
Mexico Elections: 5 Takeaways from López Obrador’s Victory
(NYT) The chronic ills that Mr. López Obrador railed against, propelling him to victory, now become his problems to solve.
Among them is corruption. On the campaign trail, he was short on details about how he intended to confront the problem, but said he would lead by example: His professed honesty and ethical cleanliness, he said, would flow downward through the ranks of his government and help change the nation’s culture.
He also inherits a nation reeling from rampant violence left unfettered by an anemic and corrupt public security system. More homicides were reported in May than in any other month since the government launched its current record-keeping system two decades ago, and 2017 was the deadliest year on record during the same time period.
Amlo’s allies: the footballer, the militia leader and environmental scientist
The president-elect’s ideologically diverse coalition has led to some surprising candidates winning on his coattails
López Obrador, best known as Amlo, had pitched a big tent which included two former leaders of the right-leaning National Action party (Pan), as well as the Social Encounter party (PES), which was founded by Evangelicals in 2014.
Among those candidates who rode into office on Amlo’s coattails were an environmental scientist who became Mexico City’s first elected female mayor; a pugnacious former footballer; and the leader of a citizen’s militia who ran narco-traffickers from her town – but ended up in prison on kidnapping charges.
Mexico City: Claudia Sheinbaum to Become First Elected Woman Mayor, Succeeding Obrador
(Newsweek) She worked as a scientist and spent four years as a Ph.D. student in California. She has worked as an environmental engineer at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
On the campaign trail she told a rally, as reported by NPR: “Just because I might look like a skinny scientist doesn’t mean I’m not going to crack down on crime here. I will.”
Sheinbaum was the environmental secretary under Lopez Obrador when he was Mexico City mayor. She served as district mayor of the capital’s Tlalpan neighborhood, which helped launch her mayoral campaign.
Mexico’s Lopez Obrador commits to NAFTA after landslide win
(Reuters) – Mexico’s next president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said on Monday he will seek to remain in NAFTA along with the United States and Canada and that he respects the existing Mexican team renegotiating the trade pact.
Lopez Obrador won a landslide election victory on Sunday, getting more than double the votes of his nearest rival, dealing a resounding blow to establishment parties and becoming the first leftist to win the Mexican presidency since one-party rule ended in 2000.
“We are going to accompany the current government in this negotiation, we are going to be very respectful, and we are going to support the signing of the agreement,” he told Milenio TV in an telephone interview, saying the aim was a deal on the North [American] Free Trade Agreement that was good for Mexico.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – JULY 01: Presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador waves after voting as part of the Mexico 2018 Presidential Election on July 1, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Pedro Mera/Getty Images)

29 June
A man who goes by AMLO is the favorite to win Mexico’s presidential election
(WaPost) he became a leading figure of Mexico’s left and now looks likely to become the country’s most controversial president in years — either its savior or a peerless threat to stability, depending on whom you ask. While his campaign against corruption and his defense of the poor have struck a chord with voters, some of his attacks on Mexico’s institutions and his economic proposals have made the private sector shudder. López Obrador’s rise traces the country’s growing irritation with violence, inequality and often wildly corrupt politics.

25-27 June
Mexico struggles to weed out fake news ahead of its biggest election ever
By Martha Pskowski
(The Verge) With Mexico’s election on the horizon, weeding out fake news in the country of 127 million has never been more pressing. Mexicans have long distrusted the press and for good reason. For decades, the national news media here consisted of two television networks and a handful of newspapers, all propped up financially by the controlling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Coverage of the government was favorable, and negative stories were buried.
Social media and digital outlets have emerged as an important counterbalance to government-controlled media, but it also presents the risks of mass misinformation. Mexico is a hub in the Spanish-speaking world for bot farms. In the 2012 presidential campaign, now-imprisoned Colombian hacker Andrés Sepúlveda claims to have launched 30,000 Twitter bots in support of Peña Nieto’s campaign. Many Mexicans also get their news from messaging applications like WhatsApp, and news outlets are hard-pressed to catch up when chain messages spread inaccurate information almost instantaneously.
July 1st will be the largest election in Mexican history. Voters will be deciding on the makeup of the Senate, state and local races, and voting for a president. In terms of managing the spread of fake news, [Esteban Illades, editor of the Mexican magazine Nexos and author of the recent book Fake News: Una nueva realidad] says, “2018 is a trial by fire.”
Political Risk Analysis: What To Expect After Mexico’s 2018 Presidential Election
By Nathaniel Parish Flannery
(Forbes) During the course of 2018 I’ve met with CEOs, economists, lawyers, and government officials in New York, Monterrey, Guanajuato, Tijuana and Mexico City. I’ve heard a full range of opinions about Mexico’s 2018 presidential election and what Mexico and the world can expect to see happen in its aftermath. The 2018 race pits a leftist, populist front-runner named Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), against two apparently hapless rivals, a technocratic centrist named Jose Antonio Meade, and a second technocratic centrist named Ricardo Anaya. In a race in which the “change” candidate waives the flag of a new political movement called MORENA and enjoys such a wide margin of support, Meade and Anaya often seem to be battling for second place, arguing about whose party is more corrupt or who will be able to better defend the status quo that has left so many voters deeply unsatisfied. Anaya and Meade are both running in representation of coalitions rather than using the branding of their political parties, the National Action Party (PAN) of controversial former Mexican president Felipe Calderon and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of current (and historically unpopular) President Enrique Peña Nieto. Within Mexico, analysis of the presidential race ranges from measured to deeply delusional. At a time when Pepsi and Anheuser-Busch InBev have been affected by Mexico’s security problems, Ford and GM are caught up in Trump’s war of words against Mexico and NAFTA, and companies such as Exxon-Mobil are still trying to figure what direction Mexico’s energy sector will go in over the next six years, corporate executives and other decision-makers in the US are paying attention to Mexico.
As the final countdown towards the July 1 election begins I’m seeing and hearing a range of analysis from Mexico’s professional class that varies from informed skepticism to unhinged panic. Last week I talked to one investment banker who thinks this election will bring about the near destruction of Mexico’s historically dominant PRI party. That is certainly one possibly outcome. I also talked to another Mexican investment banker who is currently living in the US and thinks AMLO’s election will lead to the destruction of Mexico and spawn the formation of a Venezuela-style failed state, an outcome which seems far from probable. Each particular social bubble has its own particular biases but I’m seeing a few common threads. The two most common refrains I hear are elites chattering about fleeing the country and / or pulling their money out of Mexico and a (delusional) belief that Mexico’s PRI still maintains the type old-school political machinery that might push their candidate to victory. While it’s true that in many parts of Mexico old school power politics still play an important role, it seems far from likely that the PRI and PAN retain control of enough political levers to swing the election away from AMLO.
A New Revolution in Mexico
Sick of corruption and of Trump, voters embrace the maverick leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
(The New Yorker) The first time that Andrés Manuel López Obrador ran for President of Mexico, in 2006, he inspired such devotion among his partisans that they sometimes stuck notes in his pockets, inscribed with their hopes for their families. In an age defined by globalism, he was an advocate of the working class—and also a critic of the PRI, the party that has ruthlessly dominated national politics for much of the past century. In the election, his voters’ fervor was evidently not enough; he lost, by a tiny margin. The second time he ran, in 2012, the enthusiasm was the same, and so was the outcome. Now, though, Mexico is in crisis—beset from inside by corruption and drug violence, and from outside by the antagonism of the Trump Administration. There are new Presidential elections on July 1st, and López Obrador is running on a promise to remake Mexico in the spirit of its founding revolutionaries. If the polls can be believed, he is almost certain to win.


The Atlantic Magazine, May issue
Mexico’s Revenge
By antagonizing the U.S.’s neighbor to the south, Donald Trump has made the classic bully’s error: He has underestimated his victim.
The grandiose promise of trade is that it binds countries together, breeding peace and cooperation. This is a risible overstatement when applied generally to the world. But in the case of the countries separated by the Rio Grande, it has proved wondrously true. A generation after the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the United States and Mexico couldn’t be more interdependent. Anti-Americanism, once a staple of Mexican politics, has largely faded. The flow of migrants from Mexico to the U.S. has, more or less, abated. Economic ties have fostered greater intimacy between intelligence services and security agencies, which are today deeply enmeshed in each other’s business. While the economic benefits of nafta are less impressive than the architects of the deal promised, the geostrategic benefits of integration are far more important than anyone could have anticipated. But the Trump administration has come dangerously close to trashing the relationship—and, in the process, unleashing a terrifying new reality.
What Mexican analysts have called the “China card”—a threat to align with America’s greatest competitor—is an extreme retaliatory option. Former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda told me he considers it an implausible expression of “machismo.” Unfortunately, Trump has elevated machismo to foreign-policy doctrine, making it far more likely that other countries will embrace the same ethos in response. And while a tighter Chinese–Mexican relationship would fly in the face of recent economic history, Trump may have already set it in motion.

22 February
Top U.S. Officials Met With Defiance in Visit to Mexico
Secretaries of State and Homeland Security encounter objections to hard U.S. line on deportations
(WSJ)  “I want to make it emphatically clear that neither Mexico’s government or the Mexican people have any reason to accept provisions that have been unilaterally imposed by one government on the other,” Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said at a ceremony on Wednesday.
“We won’t accept it because we don’t have to,” he added, in an apparent reference to U.S. plans to return illegal migrants to Mexico, regardless of their nationality.
Mr. Videgaray’s declaration spelled trouble for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who a White House official said were sent to “talk through the implementation” of Mr. Trump’s guidelines.
Mr. Trump’s new guidelines, which flesh out executive orders signed by the president last month, call for enlisting local U.S. authorities to enforce immigration law, jailing more people pending hearings, and sending border-crossers back to Mexico to await proceedings, even if they aren’t Mexican.
It is that detail of the new plan that has kindled the most acrimony in Mexico. Mexican officials said it meant the U.S. would deposit Mexicans and non-Mexicans alike on the southern side of the border, whether Mexico agreed to the plan or not. Mexican officials view the plan as an affront to Mexican sovereignty.
U.S. statistics show most of those entering the U.S. illegally through the southwest border are from countries other than Mexico.

27 January
Mexicans Launch Boycotts of U.S. Companies in Fury at Donald Trump
(TIME) The digital image shows a clenched fist bathed in the red, white and green of Mexico’s flag and decorated with the nation’s emblematic eagle. “Consumers, to the Shout of War,” it says in Spanish above the fist. “Consume products made in country…Use your buying power to punish the companies that favor the politics of the new U.S. government.”
It is as yet uncertain how much boycotts will affect the bottom line of U.S. businesses here, but they have gained prominence since Trump signed the executive order for the border wall on Wednesday. A shift manager at a Starbucks in the middle-class Roma neighborhood of Mexico City said Thursday he had already seen a slump of about 10 percent in customers at that particular outlet. “It’s bad because this is a franchise and it affects the jobs of Mexican workers,” said the manager, who asked his name not be used as he was not an authorized spokesman. Starbucks has not voiced any political support for Trump, and was itself the subject of a protest by Trump supporters in December.
The White House has sent mixed messages on how it will actually get Mexico to foot the bill for a wall that could cost up to $15 billion. Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday floated the idea of a 20% tax on Mexican imports, but then later said that was just “one idea.” During the campaign, Trump discussed a wall tax on the $25 billion in remittances sent home by Mexican migrants working in the United States every year. Either of those would, if enacted, have a catastrophic impact on Mexico’s economy.
What Mexico – and Canada – stand to lose in the Trump years
By Andrés Rozental, a former deputy foreign minister of Mexico.
(Globe&Mail) When Barack Obama left the White House last week, the state of our bilateral ties was probably the best it has been in a long time. Trade, investment, collaboration on border security – all were at an all-time high. … Now that Mr. Peña Nieto’s working visit to Washington has been cancelled as a result of Mr. Trump’s offensive tweets about the wall, and the high-level team Mexico had sent to Washington to discuss an array of issues has returned to Mexico City, there seem to be few avenues open in the short term to put the relationship back where it was a week ago. Our foreign and economic ministers were blindsided by Mr. Trump’s signing of executive orders to move ahead with building a wall and adopting anti-immigrant policies on the same day the ministers arrived in Washington, where they faced a very inauspicious atmosphere for talks. Hopefully, U.S. public opinion, state governments, Congress and Mr. Trump’s cabinet – once it is confirmed and in place – will all help him understand how much his announced policies regarding Mexico could end up harming his own country, businesses and people, as well as the high risk that they might lead to an unstable political and economic situation in Mexico, which surely is not in the interest of the United States.
Mexicans are also perplexed by some of the recent calls in Canada for “dumping” Mexico from NAFTA and negotiating a bilateral deal with Washington. This is both shortsighted and a mistake. If NAFTA is torn apart, Canadian investment and trade with Mexico will be adversely affected, as will the overall relationship.

Jeremy Kinsman comments:
What President Trump has done to Mexico and its relationship to the United States in the last two days is almost tragic. It has been wild, abusive, and delusional in the plan – later denied – that “the Wall” would be paid for by a 20% import tariff. Andres Rozental is an important voice, a great friend of America and of Canada, distressed by the trashing of a quarter century’s effort to enable a newly democratic Mexico to put a century’s resentment of its US neighbour behind it. He is worried that Canada will now “dump Mexico” in our haste to work out a deal in our own interests with Trump. That would be grotesque. The Trudeau government is rightly being self-disciplined in avoiding criticism of Trump. There are signs that is contributing to self-censorship also on international issues where Trump’s raucous opinions are at odds with our liberal internationalism. We have to be smart. But we have also to be true to ourselves, and, not incidentally, to our Mexican partners who are being bullied in a most disgraceful way.

26 January
Donald Trump Blows Up the U.S.-Mexico Relationship
By Ryan Lizza
(The New Yorker) Since Ronald Reagan was first elected, in 1980, every new American President has met with his Mexican counterpart shortly after winning the White House. …
This week, Peña Nieto dispatched several ministers to lay the groundwork for the summit, including Luis Videgaray, his new secretary of foreign affairs. Last fall, Videgaray, then the finance minister, and one of the few people in Peña Nieto’s administration with links to the Trump campaign, recommended that Peña Nieto invite Trump to Mexico. Trump’s visit became such an embarrassment to the unpopular Mexican government that Peña Nieto was forced to sack Videgaray.
But, after Trump won, Videgaray was welcomed back into the government in his current role. “He was the only one who had diplomatic ties to the Trump Administration,” an official at the Mexican Embassy noted.
On Wednesday, when Videgaray and his colleagues came to the White House for a day of meetings with Jared Kushner and other senior Trump aides, Trump signed one executive order calling for “the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border” and another greatly expanding the categories of undocumented immigrants who will be prioritized for deportation. The Embassy official said the team of diplomats at the White House was furious and despondent at the timing. “They were like, ‘What the fuck are we going to negotiate?’ ” the official said. “ ‘You’ve done the job. What are we going to negotiate if you’ve signed this? What’s wrong with you?’
This depressing episode confirms several of the worst fears about Trump. The first is that he is not a good negotiator. Rather than waiting a week before he issued his executive orders on immigration, Trump signed them at a moment that maximally embarrassed Videgaray, the Mexican official who is the most sympathetic to him. The moves left the unpopular Peña Nieto with no choice but to cancel next week’s visit, and poisoned the relationship with one of America’s closest allies and our third-largest trading partner.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 25: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump (C) displays one of the two executive orders he signed during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security January 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump signed two executive orders related to domestic security and to begin the process of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 25: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump (C) displays one of the two executive orders he signed during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security January 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump signed two executive orders related to domestic security and to begin the process of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

19 January
El Chapo, Mexican Drug Kingpin, Is Extradited to U.S.
Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the notorious drug lord known as El Chapo who twice slipped out of high-security Mexican prisons and into criminal legend, was extradited to the United States on Thursday night, officials said, drawing to a close a decades-long quest to prosecute the head of one of the world’s largest narcotics organizations.
A federal court in Mexico denied an appeal by Mr. Guzmán’s lawyers to block the extradition, clearing the way for his transfer to the American authorities in New York, where he faces numerous charges for his role as the chieftain of the Sinaloa cartel. Mr. Guzmán was put on a plane on Thursday in Ciudad Juárez, near the border with Texas, and arrived in the United States on President Obama’s final night in office.


31 August
Mexico Under Siege — The drug war at our doorstep (LA Times extensive coverage since 2008)
(Reuters) Chronology: Checkered history of the PRI’s rule in Mexico
Beauty and the Beast
(The Atlantic, October 2011) A good-looking governor seeks to make Mexican voters forget the corrupt past of their old ruling party.

Why Did Peña Nieto Invite Trump to Mexico?
(NYT) Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, had already had a terrible summer. July was the most murderous month in Mexico since he took office in 2012. Second-quarter results showed negative economic growth for the first time in three years. A survey found his approval rating slipping to 23 percent. And a news report even alleged that he plagiarized nearly a third of his law degree thesis. How could he make it any worse? Only by inviting Donald J. Trump, one of the most hated men in Mexico — so hated that piñatas with his visage are brisk sellers across the country — to his presidential palace.
The curious thing about Mr. Peña Nieto’s latest debacle is how, unlike his other woes, it was totally self-inflicted. And it couldn’t have come at a worse time: the very day of Mr. Trump’s hard-hitting immigration speech, and the day before Mr. Peña Nieto’s state of the union address. Mr. Peña Nieto had even compared Mr. Trump to Hitler.

31 August
Mexico rages against Trump visit
Reaction from Mexico against the Republican nominee’s visit is swift and brutal.
(Politico) Donald Trump may have accepted the invitation of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto for a Wednesday meeting in Mexico City, but the Republican presidential nominee is getting the cold shoulder in a country where public views of its own president are already abysmally low.
Reaction was fast and furious among those in the Mexican political cognoscenti.
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox apologized on behalf of the country during an interview Wednesday on CNN, accusing both Trump and Peña Nieto for using the occasion to exploit their own political opportunities.
The New Yorker had fun with the story:
Obama Pays Mexico Five Billion Dollars to Keep Donald Trump
(The Borowitz Report)—President Barack Obama defended his decision on Wednesday to issue a payment of five billion dollars to Mexico to compel that nation to retain custody of Donald J. Trump.
The payment, which will be delivered to the Mexican government in hard American currency by Wednesday afternoon, will insure that Trump will remain in Mexico for the rest of his natural life.
“I have been assured by the government of Mexico that Mr. Trump will be well taken care of and, if he proves to be a productive member of their society, will be provided a pathway to Mexican citizenship,” Obama said.

28 June
Corruption in Mexico: The elephant at the North American table
(Open Canada) As North American leaders meet in Ottawa this week, David Agren reports from Mexico, where citizens are losing patience with a system that allows for bribery and kickbacks. Will new anti-corruption laws make a dent?
When Mexicans went to the polls in a regional election earlier this month, they were in an angry mood and obsessed with corruption.
President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) lost seven states, including four where the party had wielded power for 86-straight years and governors were accused of gross human rights violations, mismanagement and corruption.
“Clearly the voters are into kicking the bums out. And they are bums,” says Federico Estévez, political science professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico. “Two-thirds of the states switched governments. That’s a very high rate in a democracy.”
Not on the ticket but taking blame for the losses is Peña Nieto, who arrived in Ottawa on Sunday for a state visit and this week’s North American leaders’ summit, where issues such as energy, climate change and visas for Mexicans are on the agenda. But while the conversation between leaders is expected to focus on regional cooperation and opportunities, there is a single issue dogging Peña Nieto back at home, and which no doubt brings into question the effectiveness of his government: corruption.

12 January
El Chapo’s Capture: A Distraction From the Disaster That Is the Drug War and Peña Nieto’s Presidency
By Daniel Robelo, research coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance
(HuffPost) The internet is aflame with chatter about the recent recapture of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, the world’s most wanted man twice escaped from maximum security prison. The cacophony of commentary and ridiculous coverage about the event miss the real point: El Chapo’s re-arrest is a distraction from the fact that the drug war, like the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto, is a devastating failure that’s destroying Mexico.
First of all, the capture won’t change a damn thing when it comes to the drug trade or drug addiction. It certainly won’t impact the flow of drugs. In a leaked 2010 memo, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security itself admitted as much, saying “The removal of key personnel does not have a discernable impact on drug flows … While the continued arrest or death of key DTO [drug trafficking organization] leadership may have long-term implications as to the control and viability of a specific DTO, there is no indication it will impact overall drug flows into the United States.”
El Chapo himself said the same in his ludicrous interview with Sean Penn, saying “the day I don’t exist, it [drug trafficking] is not going to decrease in any way at all.”
There is always the possibility that violence will actually increase following Chapo’s removal, as lieutenants vie for control or other organizations try to muscle in on the Sinaloa Cartel’s action.
We must also recognize that no one in Mexico believes anything that the Mexican government says about this incident — or about anything else for that matter. With crisis after crisis, scandal after scandal, human rights violation after violation, the Mexican public has lost all confidence and trust in its state institutions.
9 January
Drug lord El Chapo met with Sean Penn while on the run from authorities: Rolling Stone
Joaquin Guzman’s interview with U.S. actor helped expose his hiding place in Mexico, official says
In an article published late Saturday in Rolling Stone, and authored by Penn, the actor describes the complicated measures he took to meet the legendary drug lord. He discusses topics ranging from drug trafficking to Middle East politics with Guzman.
“I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats,” Guzman is quoted as saying.
Asked about who is to blame for drug trafficking, Guzman is quoted as saying: “If there was no consumption, there would be no sales. It is true that consumption, day after day, becomes bigger and bigger. So it sells and sells.”
mexico-guzmanDrug lord Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman’s plan for biopic helped lead to capture
Fugitive apprehended after shootout in Guzman’s home state of Sinaloa
Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman’s role as Mexico’s most famous drug lord may be worthy of a Hollywood movie, but a plan to make something like that happen was apparently his downfall, according to Mexican authorities.
Officials in Mexico have so far avoided talking publicly about any extradition to the U.S. for the head of the international Sinaloa Cartel, who also made a prison break in early 2013 before being recaptured. But even if they decided to send him to the U.S., the process likely would not be fast. …
The calls for his quick extradition were the same as those after the February 2014 capture of Guzman, who faces drug-trafficking charges in several U.S. states. At the time, Mexico’s government insisted it could handle the man who had already broken out of one maximum-security prison, saying he must pay his debt to Mexican society first.
Then Guzman escaped a second time on July 11 under the noses of guards and prison officials at Mexico’s most secure lock-up, slipping out an elaborate tunnel that showed the country’s depth of corruption while thoroughly embarrassing the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto.
2 January
Mayor of Mexican city slain 1 day after taking office
Gunmen burst into Temixco Mayor Gisela Mota’s home on Saturday and killed her, state government says


20 July
‘There’s No Real Fight Against Drugs’
Discussing El Chapo’s escape with an ex-cartel operative, a Mexican intelligence official, and an American counternarcotics agent
(The Atlantic) A few days earlier, Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficker, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, had escaped again from one of that country’s maximum-security prisons. No one in this deeply sourced group was surprised. Nor were they particularly interested in the logistical details of the escape, although they clearly didn’t believe the version they’d heard from the Mexican government.
They were convinced it was all a deal cut at some link in the system’s chain. Our breakfast minister even thought that Chapo had likely walked out the front door of the jail, and that the whole tunnel-and-motorcycle story had been staged to make the feat sound so ingenious that the government couldn’t have foreseen it, much less stopped it.
10 January
Clashes in violent western Mexico state call government’s security strategy into question
(AP) Top cartel leaders have been captured or killed, and President Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration has held up Michoacan as a success in battling drug violence. But now former vigilantes are fighting with government forces and each other. All sides are accused of being infiltrated by drug traffickers trying to take over from the Knights Templar, which controlled commerce, politics and daily life in much of the state until self-defence groups rose up in February 2013.
5 January
Jorge G. Castañeda: Mexico is Burning
(Project Syndicate) The last time Mexico experienced a political crisis more serious than the one it is undergoing today was in 1994, when a group of so-called Zapatista guerrillas staged a semi-armed uprising in the southern state of Chiapas. The president’s handpicked successor was assassinated, and, as if that was not enough, the value of the peso had plummeted by nearly 70%. Today’s crisis is not quite as bad, but it is getting close.
In December 2012, President Enrique Peña Nieto took office under inauspicious circumstances. He was elected with just 38% of the vote, without a majority in either house of Congress, and with the opposition in control of Mexico City, the capital. The presidential runner-up, opposition leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador, questioned the results of the election.
Two years on, success seems to be slipping through Peña Nieto’s hands. The country and its increasingly grey-haired president are experiencing one tragedy, scandal, or disappointment after another.
The price of oil, from which the government obtains one-third of its revenue, has plunged 40% in six months. With last year’s economic growth expected to be 2%, following just 1.1% growth in 2013, Mexico will barely have grown faster during the first third of Peña Nieto’s six-year term than it did during the last quarter-century.
Meanwhile, a pact Peña Nieto made with his predecessor is returning to haunt him. In exchange for support in the Senate for energy-sector reform, he gave Calderón and his aides a tacit blanket pardon for any conceivable misdeeds committed by Calderón’s presidential administration. This hurts Peña Nieto’s image in exactly the areas in which Mexicans most mistrust their leaders: violence and graft.


28 November
Mexico and Canada: allies, at a distance
The visa has caused tension but something’s missing from the debate
(Open Canada) Earlier this year, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird marked the 70th anniversary of bilateral relations with Mexico by calling the country a “trusted and long-term partner of choice.” A month later, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a state visit to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and the two expanded an air access agreement. But despite official niceties between the two governments, one issue continues to stick out like a sore thumb — Canada’s visa restriction on Mexicans, which the Harper government imposed in 2009.
Since the Canadian government announced the restriction, citing a spike in Mexican refugee claimants and the need to curb the number of people “trying to use the refugee system to jump the immigration queue,” criticism from various sectors and political groups in both Canada and Mexico has been fierce.
Most critics have highlighted the damage the visa causes to business and political ties between the two countries, especially in light of expectations set by NAFTA.
But by focusing on economic and political impacts of the visa, its criticism has avoided confronting the serious questions the visa raises with regards to social justice, refugee determination and the context behind the rise in claims — the increase in drug-related violence and impunity in Mexico.
In the wake of the disappearance of 43 students from Guerrero, the lack of understanding and appreciation of the reality in Mexico, by the Canadian government but also by Canadians, seems more apparent than ever.
More evidence has emerged that local authorities were likely involved with the students’ disappearance, as cartel members have claimed police officers handed the students over to them to be killed. Protest and anger against the Peña Nieto administration have escalated ever since.
Meanwhile, back in Canada, public discourse on the visa restriction has done little to question the Canadian government’s bold assumption that there are no safety and security concerns in Mexico that might explain a rise in refugee claims. Even by visa critics, there has been little disagreement with the Canadian government’s assertion that the rise in refugee claims by Mexicans, which by 2008 had become 25 percent of all claims in Canada, is “undermining our ability to help people fleeing ‘real’ persecution.” …
Luis Horacio Najera, a long-time Mexican journalist who covered the disappearance of women and the narcotrade in Ciudad Juarez for La Reforma: “I do think there is indeed a lack of awareness and therefore a lack of understanding among Canadians about the situation in Mexico, and how this complex and constantly evolving reality affects hundreds or thousands of lives daily. The current situation in Mexico is migrating from the violence by organized crime to the violence against human and civil rights activists by the government,” he says.
28 February
Mexican kingpin’s fall clouds future of drug heartland
(Reuters) While Guzman’s feared Sinaloa Cartel fed the U.S. craving for illegal narcotics, it also hooked the economy of his home state on the southward flow of drug money.
“People are afraid that the economy could collapse,” said Jorge Chavez, a lawyer and citizen representative on the state’s security council of police and politicians. “I cannot say by how much, but the economy depends on this money.”
In Mazatlan where Guzman was caught, the boardwalk is lined with hotels, restaurants and night clubs. Every few blocks sit boarded-up premises that locals say were fronts for drug gangs closed after police raids or bloody shootouts between rivals.
The billions that Guzman’s gang allegedly made by shipping north tons of cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and heroin is laundered in condominiums, gas stations, beauty parlors and even a day care center, according to the U.S. government.
22 February
Mexico’s top drug lord Joaquin ‘Shorty’ Guzman arrested
(BBC) Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto used his Twitter account to praise the forces involved in the arrest in the north-western resort of Mazatlan, in Sinaloa state.
Guzman was taken to Mexico City and paraded before the media, before boarding a helicopter surrounded by heavily armed troops.
13 January
Mexico to Turn on the Pumps
(Geopolitical Monitor) After years of declining output, Mexico’s energy industry looks like it will be turning a corner in 2014. Legislation was passed in December to end the monopoly long enjoyed by Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and open the industry up to much-needed foreign investment. After the energy bill is ratified by a majority of Mexico’s states (it is expected to pass without a problem), the first licenses for foreign energy companies will be issued in late 2014.
The end of Mexico’s 75-year oil monopoly is a watershed event, albeit a somewhat predictable one given the pressures of an increasingly supply-glutted international energy market. The capital-starved Mexican industry was beginning to look like an anachronism next to its competitors north of the border, and it will need outside technology and investment in order to exploit the country’s full potential (which in terms of shale gas and deep-water reserves is thought to be quite lucrative). Thus, as foreign investment starts to flow into the country’s energy sector (to the tune of $20 billion a year according to some analysts), Mexican output will to ramp up. Expect this to have a meaningful impact on global supply beginning in late 2014, because even with the myriad of inefficiencies that dogged the soon-to-be-defunct Pemex monopoly, Mexico is still the 10th largest oil producer in the world between Venezuela and Kuwait. That means there’s plenty of room for improvement.


Troops flood western Mexico to protect towns, but doubts remain
Mexico’s top security officials gathered Tuesday in the western state of Michoacan to launch a campaign with thousands of army troops to rescue towns besieged, sometimes for months, by the powerful Knights Templar drug cartel.
Mexico’s cosseted elite — Named and shamed
(The Economist) … something positive is emerging in Mexico, a country that, despite some improvements, still has one of the widest gaps between rich and poor in Latin America. Those armed with iPhones, cameras and recording devices—albeit they too, probably, living far better than most Mexicans—are increasingly calling politicians and others to account for unjustifiable extravagance, in effect forcing them to take responsibility for their actions. So is the mainstream media.
3 May
Barack Obama’s visit to Mexico — The unmentionables
(The Economist) … Héctor Aguilar Camín, an expert on the bilateral relationship, says the two countries are beginning to address on their own account two issues that were deliberately left out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) almost 20 years ago because at the time they were considered far too controversial—migration and energy reform. Find solutions to these problems, he says, and the two countries may be on the way to achieving an old dream that could really improve prosperity in Mexico: a North American common market.
… Better, instead, to focus the relationships on legal exports—especially as robust trade between the two countries is a bright spot at a time of sluggish global growth. It may be too early to start discussions on a North American common market; neither energy reform in Mexico, nor immigration reform in America will be easy to accomplish, and both hurdles would need to be overcome first before anything so ambitious could be considered. But it is heartening to see the two presidents talk at length about the potential for shared prosperity if they manage to increase access to Asian markets via the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The more they talk free trade, the better for both of them.
2 May
Why US firms are turning to Mexico, leaving China behind
… There has always been an electronics manufacturing hub in Tijuana, but Chinese competition damaged its business a decade ago.
Now rising wage costs in Asia and a higher exchange rate are prompting many companies targeting the US market to take another look at Mexico.
… “Now the wages in China are more than they were before, that’s one thing, then China is six weeks away from the most important market, which is the US,” said Armando Vega Garduno, director of manufacturing and operational excellence.
“So we are migrating all the production we had in China and moving it here. Fifty per cent of what we used to bring from China is now manufactured in this facility.”
9 April
‘Made in Mexico’ increasingly means high-tech motors, not sweatshops
Times are tough for the assembly-for-export plants known as maquiladoras clustered along the U.S. border, a region that has lost economic muscle in the face of competition from China, successive U.S. recessions and drug war violence.
But there are signs of a turnaround elsewhere. Mexico is winning back U.S. import market share and an energetic new government promises deep economic reforms in pursuit of 6-per-cent annual growth.
17 March
Mexico and the US, two nations indivisible
(Emerging Markets) Mexico’s future is closely tied to that of the United States; but to get to the next level of prosperity, it must solve its security issues, says Shannon O’Neil
When it comes to Mexico, people usually think about the security issue, and that’s what much of the news coverage has been. But underneath that, behind the headlines, we have seen a transformation of Mexico’s economy over the last couple of decades: it has moved from a very closed, inward-looking economy, one whose exports were dominated by oil, to an economy that is one of the most open and increasingly competitive in the world [emphasis added]. In measures like trade to GDP, Mexico outpaces not just the United States or places like Brazil, but it outpaces China. It is quite an open and competitive economy now.
A big part of that is due to its deepening ties to the United States. Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) was signed almost 20 years ago, we have seen the creation of regional supply chains for a myriad of different types of industries and companies. For every product that is imported from Mexico in the US, on average 40% of it would actually have been made in the US. It has become a very symbiotic relationship, and it has become an integrated economy in many ways and in many sectors, and particularly in manufacturing. There, we see almost seamless integration in some companies, where production happens on both sides of the border. What it means is these economies, companies and industries are now not only intimately tied, but permanently tied at this point.


1 December
Mexico inaugurates new President Peña Nieto, but takes on ‘old’ party reputation
Corruption will likely be a constant challenge for Peña Nieto and his PRI party, which ruled Mexico for 71 years largely through graft before it lost the presidency in 2000.
Not only will the PRI likely have to continuously prove clean credentials to skeptics, corruption itself is deeply rooted in Mexico, affecting everything from fighting drug traffickers to collecting taxes. The National Action Party (PAN), which took power from the PRI in 2000, made some limited progress, but graft remains rampant. And corruption has morphed from a more localized problem of bribing to a sophisticated, multi-country phenomenon that involves multinationals and all three branches of government. Exhibit A is the recent Walmart scandal in Mexico, in which the American corporation allegedly bought permits to more quickly construct big-box stores here.
Clashes in Mexico after president sworn in
(Al Jazeera) Hundreds of protesters clash with police outside congress shortly before president Enrique Pena Nieto gives speech.
Mexican town gains autonomy amid logging fight
Residents of a mountain town in the Mexican state of Michoacán are fighting back against illegal loggers backed by criminal syndicates by closing roads, ejecting police and politicians, abducting loggers and taking up arms — sometimes with weapons as feeble as rocks and fireworks — against paramilitaries armed with AK-47s. Nearly three-fourths of the surrounding oak forests have been decimated by loggers. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (8/2)
30 July
Drug traffickers seek to intimidate Mexican media
(CBS News) The attack against El Norte’s offices in Monterrey’s metropolitan area is the third in less than a month against the newspaper. Experts say it could be an escalation in the efforts by drug traffickers to intimidate one of the few regional outlets that continues to cover the drug war and investigate official corruption linked to cartels, while others fall silent to intimidation.
Other newspapers in northeast Mexico have stopped covering drug cartel violence all together to protect their staffs against violent attacks including kidnappings and murders carried out by gangs that want to prevent their activities from appearing in print, or are angered by coverage. El Norte and Reforma publish drug violence articles without reporters’ bylines to protect from retribution.
Drug cartels have targeted journalists working for national media chains.
5 July
Final Mexican results confirming Pena Nieto win
(Reuters) – Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto was a clear victor in Sunday’s presidential election, according to a second tally of votes made after the runner-up refused to accept defeat.
2 July
Analysis: Mexico’s creaky economy to test Pena Nieto’s ambitions
(Reuters) – Mexico’s creaky domestic economy, riddled with monopolies and inefficiencies, makes the next government’s goal of boosting growth to rates last seen in the 1970’s seem like a pipe dream.
The return to power of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in Sunday’s presidential election may be a chance for the most significant economic remodeling in a generation.
But the checkered history of reforms in Latin America’s second-biggest economy, producing failure as often as success, underscores the size of the challenge.
1 July
Sadly, no surprise  The party that ruled Mexico for most of the 20th century claimed victory on Sunday as a senior election official said the party’s candidate, Enrique Pena Nieto, held an irreversible lead over his rivals. President Felipe Calderon congratulated him on his win. Read more
Mexicans vote: 4 key reforms the next president must tackle
(CSM) “Mexico has not lived up to [its] potential,” says Lorenzo Lazo, a political analyst in Mexico City who served in several PRI administrations. And if it is going to, here are the key reforms the next leader must tackle, according to observers across the political spectrum:
Cartels cast shadow over Mexico polls
(Al Jazeera) Speculation rife over role of criminal syndicates as country votes for new president amid continuing drug violence.
29 June
Mexico’s New President Needs to Bust Its Business Cartels
(Bloomberg) From bread, beer and milk to telephones, television and electricity, monopolies and duopolies dominate Mexico’s economy. Loosening their grip would give Mexican consumers more choices and more money to spend. It would also spur economic development and invigorate political and economic institutions, thereby helping society combat the effects of the drug war violence that has led to more than 47,000 deaths over the past six years.
… No cow is more sacred than Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, the state-owned oil company created in 1938 by the expropriation of foreign companies. Partly as a result of a ban on foreign investment in the oil sector — a prohibition that Mexico shares with Iran and North Korea — Pemex’s output has been declining for almost a decade, and it has lagged in finding and exploiting new reserves.
Party of “perfect dictatorship” set for comeback in Mexico
(Reuters) – Accused of every dirty trick in the book during its 71-year grip on power in the 20th century, Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party has bounced back and is on the verge of a dramatic victory in Sunday’s presidential election. The PRI has seized on the anemic economic growth and rampant drug violence plaguing Mexico under the ruling conservatives and is promising to restore order and make voters better off if it returns to office after a 12-year hiatus.
27 June
Gwynne Dyer: Why Enrique Peña Nieto will win the Mexican presidential election
( … Mexico has been doing very well economically under the PAN governments that have run the country since 2000.
Mexico is the rising star among Latin American economies, with an annual growth rate that now exceeds that of Brazil. And in an economy with low inflation and manageable debt, real incomes have risen as well.
Per capita income in Mexico is now as much as 50 percent higher than Brazil’s. So if Brazilian voters were so happy with the results of President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva’s eight years in power that they gratefully elected his chosen successor, Dilma Rousseff, to the presidency in 2010, why have PAN’s 12 years of economic success not entitled it to re-election too?
The answer is simple: President Felipe Calderón’s declaration of war on Mexico’s drug cartels in 2006 has embroiled the country in a bloodbath that blinds both foreigners and its own citizens to the remarkable progress that is being made on most other fronts.
(PBS) In Mexico, War Against Drug Cartels Inflicts High Cost
PRI presidential hopeful would face host of challenges in governing Mexico
(Globe & Mail)  … In the past decade, Mexico has made great strides, with a stable, well-managed economy, a growing middle class, greater political freedom than ever and stronger institutions.
Mr. Pena Nieto’s challenge will be to bring about the structural reforms the country of 113 million needs and propel it from developing to developed status.
The return of the PRI to office 12 short years after it was supposed to have been relegated to the dustbin of history underscores the party’s famous pragmatism and ability to transform itself. It spent its years away from the presidency building a power base in many of the country’s 31 states and getting PRI governors elected.
As the party transformed itself, so, too, did the country. The electorate is more sophisticated and independent, and Congress and civil society are more capable of challenging the executive.
23 June
Fresh face, same old party
The party that held power for seven decades is poised to take back the presidency. Is Mexico ready?
(The Economist) …  Since 2000 Mexico has been governed by the conservative National Action Party (PAN), first under Vicente Fox, a genial campaigner but poor political manager, and then under Felipe Calderón, a career politician ….  Lacking a majority in Congress, both PAN presidents proved unable or unwilling to forge the alliances needed to recast a political system ill-equipped for a multiparty democracy, and an economy restrained by public monopolies (of energy) and private oligopolies (telecoms, television, beer and cement, for example).
Mr Calderón broadened access to health care, improved infrastructure and took some measures to boost competition. He also tried to improve education, only to be thwarted by the mighty teachers’ union. He could have achieved more had he set aside his visceral dislike of the PRI, which in return saw little reason to help him. So economic growth was moderate. It was set back first by competition from China after it joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001, and then by the implosion of America’s banks. Mr Calderón will be recalled most for donning a military uniform and sending the army to confront organised crime.
22 June
Jorge G. Castañeda: The Return of Mexico’s Nemesis
(Project Syndicate) On July 1, Mexico will in all likelihood vote the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled the country for seven decades, back into power. The PRI’s candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, holds an insurmountable lead late in the campaign. Many Mexicans, as well as the country’s foreign friends, fear that this turn of events heralds a return to the authoritarian, corrupt, and discredited past that Mexico had left behind when the National Action Party’s candidate, Vicente Fox, won the presidency in 2000.
20 June
Mexico election diary: #YoSoy132 at a crossroads
(The Economist)  The pressure group, which was born in May after a disastrous visit by Enrique Peña Nieto, the leading candidate, to a Mexico City university, got the candidates together for two hours of discussion ahead of the election, which is now little more than a week away. ( #YoSoy132: Meet the new social movement shaking up Mexico’s election
14 June
‘Dark Angel’ and the Mexican Meth Connection
(Stratfor)  Mexico’s methamphetamine trade seems to be booming these days. Earlier in 2012, the Mexican military made the largest single seizure of methamphetamine ever (15 tons, worth around $1 billion) outside Guadalajara. As the United States increased its restrictions on the pharmaceutical chemicals used to produce methamphetamine, Mexican producers stepped in to meet the growing demand. Details from Operation Dark Angel provide insight into how traffickers in the United States are getting their product to market and, more interestingly, how they are laundering their profits.
23 April
Paloma Anós Casero: Can global headwinds slow down Mexico’s economy?
(World Bank blogs) Uncertainty surrounding the global economy remains high. Despite relative calm in the markets, several black clouds are on the global economic horizon in 2012, with potentially serious consequences for Mexico, depending on how complicated the global situation becomes.
How does this scenario affect Mexico?
Despite the uncertain global climate, economic forecasts for 2012 are fairly positive. Under the so-called benign scenario –no new global recession- Mexico’s economy will grow by over 3% with growth driven by the recovery of manufacturing, the solid increase in domestic demand, prudent macroeconomic management and a financial system with limited risks for external contagion.
Under a pessimistic scenario, a sharp global economic slowdown, Mexico’s terms of trade, finances and economic forecasts will take a dip. Mexico’s economy will suffer trade losses from a decline in export demand, raw material prices dropping, a shrinking credit and exchange rate pressures. Mexican consumers and businesses could reduce their demand for goods and services – postponing consumption and investment decisions as an adverse reaction to the economic uncertainty.
However there is no reason for alarm. The Mexican economy is well prepared to absorb external shocks. Its key strengths include an absence of financial and fiscal imbalances and a prudent sovereign debt management –an achievement that opens doors on the international capital markets. Additionally, Mexico has implemented a flexible exchange rate that helps absorb external shocks -for example, by mitigating a decline in external demand (as Mexican exports would benefit if the local currency depreciates).
27 March
Jorge G. Castañeda: The Summit of Muted Intentions
The Summit of the Americas, which takes place roughly every three years, could be viewed as the sort of Latin American boondoggle that convenes heads of state for a few days, either south or north of the Rio Grande, to make endless speeches that lead nowhere. But every now and then, the Summit – an American initiative launched by US President Bill Clinton in 1994 – actually helps to place key issues on the hemispheric table.
One such issue was the so-called Free-Trade Area of the Americas, which was proposed by former US President George H.W. Bush in 1990, and then collapsed at the Mar del Plata summit in Argentina in 2005. Incensed by the presence of Bush père’s son, President George W. Bush, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez rallied thousands of anti-American demonstrators to protest against the agreement.
The Summit of the Americas thus serves as a bellwether of United States-Latin American relations, even if it fails to accomplish much of significance.

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