Mexico 2019

Written by  //  December 1, 2019  //  Mexico  //  No comments

Mexico 2012-2018
CUSMA/USMCA (formerly known as NAFTA)

1 December
As Troubles Grow, Mexicans Keep the Faith With Their President
One year into his term, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador faces a stagnant economy and spiraling violence, but Mexicans still place their hopes in him.

A Mexican cartel gun battle near the Texas border leaves 21 dead
(Vox) The attack comes days after President Trump announced he wants to label Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations.
Armed gunmen stormed Villa Union, a town near the Texas border with Coahuila state, on Saturday and attacked local government offices, including that of the mayor. Security forces responded, and 10 gunmen and four policemen were killed during the resulting shootout in the village. Seven additional cartel members were killed by security forces after the attackers fled.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made it clear that he will not allow foreign intervention, and has offered to increase cooperation with the US on fighting drug gangs instead, according to Al Jazeera. His government already works with the US intelligence community and drug and law enforcement officials from the State Department to combat cartel violence.

28 November
Why designating Mexican drug cartels terrorists might not be the way to fight organized crime
Donald Trump’s recent suggestion that Mexican drug cartels be designated foreign terrorist organizations is likely to be ineffective in addressing the problem of violent criminal gangs, says a former Mexican ambassador to the United States.
Arturo Sarukhan, who was Mexico’s representative in Washington from 2007 to 2013, says the idea is another way for the U.S. president to use Mexico as a political piñata and would also seriously harm bilateral relations between the two countries, impacting trade and border security.
To determine whether a group should be designated as an FTO, the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism looks at its past activities and whether it is planning or has the capability to carry out future acts that threaten the security and national interest of the U.S.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was quick to reject Trump’s idea, decrying it as “interventionism.” He said Mexico would take up the issue after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, and his foreign minister would lead talks with his U.S. counterparts.
Sarukhan says Trump’s recent revival of the FTO idea seems to be a response to calls among conservatives and right wing groups to take action in the wake of the violent murder of nine members of an American Mormon family living in northern Mexico at the beginning of November
The designation has practical and symbolic power. It is illegal to provide an FTO with material support and resources, and members of such groups are barred from entering the United States.

8 November
Mexican cop involved in botched operation against ‘El Chapo’s’ son gunned down in hail of 155 bullets
(Fox news) Cristobal Castañeda Camarillo, the Secretary of Public Safety in Sinaloa, said that Eduardo N., was not directly involved in the botched arrest attempt of Guzman Lopez on Oct. 17, but that he was part of the wider antidrug security unit patrolling the region, according to El Heraldo de Mexico.
Guzman Lopez, who is wanted by U.S. authorities on drug trafficking allegations, was briefly captured by police in a house in Culiacan. But cartel gunmen ambushed the police convoy and burned road barricades in the area while Lopez was in custody. He was released and police retreated following the intense fighting. At least eight people were killed and more than 20 wounded.
The latest targeted attack came on the same day Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador again defended the officers’ retreat and subsequent release of Guzman Lopez, reiterating his belief that cartel violence cannot be fought with more violence.
Obrador’s so-called “hugs, not bullets” when dealing with the cartels has come under increasing scrutiny this week following the deaths of nine Americans – three adult women and six children – who were gunned down in Sonora state.
Since Obrador took office in December, Mexico has been on track to record more than 32,000 murders this year. In the last month alone, the country has been plagued by at least three deadly high-profile attacks – including Monday’s – at the hands of cartel members.

6 November
Killed American family may have been ‘bait’ in Mexican cartel fight: relatives
(Reuters) – The nine American women and children killed in northern Mexico were victims of a territorial dispute between an arm of the Sinaloa Cartel and a rival gang, officials said on Wednesday, and may have been used to lure one side into a firefight.
The Sinaloa and Juarez Cartels have for years been at odds over lucrative routes in the border region used to move cocaine, heroin and other narcotics into the United States. Mexico has long requested that Washington do more to control demand for drugs. Mexico has unleashed its military against cartels since 2006 but despite the arrests or killings of leading traffickers, the campaign has failed to reduce violence. In fact, it has led to more killings as criminal groups fight among themselves.

18 October
Mexico president defends release of El Chapo’s son in shootout with cartel
Government surrenders to the Sinaloa drug cartel, cedes control of state capital

8 June
Mexico Agreed to Take Border Actions Months Before Trump Announced Tariff Deal
By Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman
(NYT) The deal to avert tariffs that President Trump announced with great fanfare on Friday night consists largely of actions that Mexico had already promised to take in prior discussions with the United States over the past several months, according to officials from both countries who are familiar with the negotiations.
Friday’s joint declaration says Mexico agreed to the “deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border.” But the Mexican government had already pledged to do that in March during secret talks in Miami between Kirstjen Nielsen, then the secretary of homeland security, and Olga Sanchez, the Mexican secretary of the interior, the officials said.
The centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s deal was an expansion of a program to allow asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their legal cases proceed. But that arrangement was first reached in December in a pair of painstakingly negotiated diplomatic notes that the two countries exchanged. Ms. Nielsen announced the Migrant Protection Protocols during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee five days before Christmas.
Mr. Trump hailed the agreement anyway on Saturday, writing on Twitter: “Everyone very excited about the new deal with Mexico!” He thanked the president of Mexico for “working so long and hard” on a plan to reduce the surge of migration into the United States.
It was unclear whether Mr. Trump believed that the agreement truly represented new and broader concessions, or whether the president understood the limits of the deal but accepted it as a face-saving way to escape from the political and economic consequences of imposing tariffs on Mexico.
Trump’s Mexico deal is victory for ‘hostage-taking’, ex-WTO head says
Pascal Lamy said Trump’s actions went against the spirit of diplomacy after Mexico agreed to expand asylum program
(The Guardian) The immigration deal imposed on Mexico by Donald Trump under the threat of punitive tariffs is a victory for “hostage-taking” over international rules, a former head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Saturday.
Late on Friday, the US and Mexico struck an accord to avert a tariff war when Mexico agreed to expand a contentious asylum program and deploy security forces to stem the flow of migrants from Central America.
Mexico made the concessions after Trump threatened to slap escalating tariffs of 5% on all Mexican goods from Monday if Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, did not do more to tighten his country’s borders.
“My reaction is it seems that hostage-taking works,” Pascal Lamy, a former director-general of the WTO, told Reuters, saying Trump’s actions went against the spirit of diplomacy.

7 June
Trump Calls Off Plan to Impose Tariffs on Mexico
(NYT) President Trump backed off his plan to impose tariffs on all Mexican goods and announced via Twitter on Friday night that the United States had reached an agreement with Mexico to reduce the flow of migrants to the southwestern border. Mr. Trump tweeted the announcement only hours after returning from Europe and following several days of intense and sometimes difficult negotiations between American and Mexican officials in Washington.
The president’s threat that he would impose potentially crippling tariffs on the United States’ largest trading partner and one of its closest allies brought both countries to the brink of an economic and diplomatic crisis — only to be yanked back from the precipice nine days later. The threat had rattled companies across North America, including automakers and agricultural firms, which have built supply chains across Mexico, the United States and Canada.
Businesses had warned that the tariffs would increase costs for American consumers, who import everything from cucumbers to refrigerators from Mexico, and prompt retaliation from the Mexican government in the form of new trade barriers that would damage the United States economy.
But the trade war ended before it began, forestalling that economic reckoning and an intraparty war that Mr. Trump had created by threatening tariffs to leverage the immigration changes he demanded. That tactic had drawn stiff protests from Republicans, including many senators, who have long opposed tariffs and worried the measure would hurt American companies and consumers.
In an unusual show of force against their own party’s president, Republican senators had threatened to try to block the tariffs if Mr. Trump moved ahead with them, and had demanded a face-to-face meeting with the president before any action.

5 June
Kenneth Rogoff: As Populists Rise, Latin America’s Economies Will Fall
In the space of a year, populists with autocratic tendencies have taken office in Mexico and Brazil, and laid the groundwork to return to power in Argentina. With the three largest economies in Latin America destined for further mismanagement, the prospects for growth in the region are dim
(Project Syndicate) Populist autocrats have enjoyed a breathtaking rise to power in countries around the world, and nowhere is the trend more pronounced than in Latin America following the elections of Mexico’s leftist president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), and Brazil’s right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro.
AMLO, like the charismatic Chávez two decades ago, was swept into office last year on the promise that he would improve the lives of ordinary people. One of his first official acts was to abort construction of a desperately needed new airport in Mexico City – even though the project was already 30% complete – on the grounds that airlines are for the rich. He then launched a new airport project in an impractical, mountainous location farther away, where it stands even less chance of being finished.Though AMLO campaigned on a promise to end corruption, his government has eschewed competitive bidding for more than 70% of the contracts it has awarded. Like Trump, he dismisses media critics as “fake news,” and warns reporters to “behave well,” or “you know what will happen to you.” Still, global investors are encouraged by the fact that AMLO has left the central bank alone, at least so far.

5 May
We get Cinco de Mayo wrong. But we’re not wrong to celebrate it.
The event commemorated on this holiday was a triumph of Mexican spirit and courage. For us, though, it just might have saved our nation.
When the future of the United States was threatened by the secession of 11 Southern states in 1860-1861, Confederate strategists looked for help in two directions. One was Europe; the other was Mexico. Europe’s textile mills ran on Southern cotton. By cutting off the supply with an embargo, the rebels hoped to force France and Britain to recognize Southern independence. Mexico, meanwhile, was a potential ally — or maybe even a future member of the new Confederacy.
As 1861 came to an end, only the French remained, camped on the Gulf Coast. French Emperor Napoleon III , nephew of the famous general, rued his uncle’s decision to sell French holdings in North America to Thomas Jefferson more than 50 years earlier. He decided to topple the Mexican government and reestablish Parisian power in the Americas.
So in the spring of 1862, the French began marching toward Mexico City, with the Confederate rebels cheering them on. After conquering Mexico, the French would be perfectly positioned to ally with the South and tip the balance of the Civil War.
Had a triumphant French army been raising the flag in Mexico City that summer, it might have made all the difference. The wavering Napoleon might have been emboldened to recognize the Confederacy, pulling the British along with him. Instead, the French army was licking its wounds, mangled by a smaller force of Mexican irregulars, and the emperor was momentarily chastened. Though France managed to topple the Mexican government the following year, its brief reign there came too late to help the South. The North had regained its momentum, and Lincoln was on his way to saving the Union.
Cinco de Mayo is a day to celebrate what-ifs that never transpired. What if Europe had taken the side of the South? What if the United States had shattered? What if there had been no superpower to defend democracy in the 20th century, only rival nations with incompatible goals vying for the real estate we call the United States? What if the men at Puebla had not saved America?

4 April
Trump Retreats on Threat to Close Mexican Border, Offering a ‘One-Year Warning’
(NYT) President Trump said on Thursday that he planned to give Mexico a “one-year warning” before closing the southern border, retreating on a threat he made last week that he would close the border in the coming days if Mexico did not halt all illegal immigration.
“The only thing, frankly, better and less drastic than closing the border is tariff the cars coming in, and I will do it,” Mr. Trump said, speaking to reporters after a meeting with the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council. “I don’t play games.”
He added: “If the drugs don’t stop, or largely stop, we’re going to put tariffs on Mexico and products, in particular cars — the whole ballgame is cars. And if that doesn’t stop the drugs, we close the border.”

16 March
El Norte review: an epic and timely history of Hispanic North America
Carrie Gibson has written an exhaustive corrective to historians who seek to whitewash a story of settlement and conflict
Gibson’s narrative begins much earlier, when the Spanish began their forays into the New World. The author reminds us that the indigenous urban culture of what is now Mexico was much more advanced than anything the conquistadors left behind in Europe.
Tenochtitlan (on the site of Mexico City) had a population of 150,000, “far larger than any European city”. Hernán Cortés arrived there in 1519 and reported to the crown he could “not describe one-hundredth of all the things which could be mentioned”, including a market where “more than 60,000 people come each day to buy and sell, and where every kind of merchandise … is found: provisions as well as … ornaments of gold and silver, lead, brass, copper, tin stones, shells bones and feathers”. When he met Emperor Moctezuma, Cortés was taken to a “vast compound of palaces, apartments, libraries, warehouses, and even a zoo”.
With the typical solicitude of the invader, Cortés soon kidnapped Moctezuma. But he was forced to retreat in 1520, after a battle that killed 400 Spaniards and thousands of Tlaxcala soldiers. A year later, Cortés returned. A plague in the Valley of Mexico would eventually kill millions. The capital fell.
Gibson paints an extremely broad canvas over eight centuries, from early Spanish colonies in Florida and the founding of Louisiana to the battle between the US and Mexico over Texas and Hispanic settlements in California. She reminds us of the immense diversity of Native American culture before the arrival of all Europeans. There were probably 300,000 Native Americans in Alta California before the Spanish arrived, and they spoke “roughly 90 languages under the umbrella of seven broader linguistic families”.

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