Visiting Guanajuato

BY RICARDO GARCIA CHAVEZ

First point, closest to the Airport.

In planning holidays, we chose a point where we could take a domestic flight from Cabo and enjoy cultural diversity, gastronomy, architecture and fun. We chose Silao Guanajuato airport and started by visiting the cubilete hill just 27 kilometers away from the airport, whose attraction is the church that has a Christ right on the top of the mountain.

Typical dish in Guanajuato

The next point is Guanajuato city where we find its colonial architectural beauty as a symbol of the Bajío area. There, it is a must to eat some delicious “Guacamayas,” which are hard pork chicharrón inside a bolillo bread (similar to a baguette but smaller), accompanied by pickle bowls, avocado, tree sauce and pico de gallo which is green, white and red salad made with serrano chili, onion and tomato.

View from the top to the city

We took pictures of the monument to the “Pípila” Juan José de los Reyes Martínez who, in the taking of the gran alhondiga, played an important part in the struggle for the independence of Mexico. He carried a stone on his back to be able to cross without being shot by bullets.

Guanajuato City downtown

Then go down to the famous underground tunnels that cross the city. Also visit the market with its extensive assortment of jackets, footwear, bags and leather goods, and then the obligatory visit to the famous mummies of Guanajuato, perform collejoneadas with the students, visit the University of Guanajuato, the Juárez theater and finish in the alley of the kiss, a famously romantic place. 

To enjoy each place, it is recommended to stay all day long in each one. The best hotel offer is in Guanajuato, so you can stay there, rent a car and drive around the nearby cities recommended here.

The historical Dolores Hidalgo

The next obligatory stop is Dolores Hidalgo, the birthplace of Mexico’s independence and where the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla carried the banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe and gave the call of freedom and independence in 1810. It is also the place where the famous Mexican composer, José Alfredo Jiménez, was born. There is a museum very close to the church of Dolores and in the municipal pantheon is his iconic tomb.

Celaya and his Painter

One of the reasons we wanted to go to Guanajuato is for one of my favorite painters, Octavio Ocampo, whose birthplace is Celaya. The municipal palace welcomes us with these magnificent works painted by him. It is a beautiful town with restaurants, art galleries and museums within walking distance in downtown.

To finish with honors, we visited San Miguel de Allende. San Miguel de Allende is historically and culturally famous and a safe place to travel. It’s a favorite destination for tourists, with regional and international gastronomy, boutique hotels, art galleries and art stores, the iconic church with gothic design, arts and crafts stores, and traditional food restaurants. It’s a calm place with the perfect climate to walk around.

Enjoy Mexico!

Local Wines to be Auctioned by Mortons

Mortons Auctions, the most important auction house in Mexico, announced an upcoming auction of wines and liquors this past week. The virtual event will include variety of Mexican wines, from popular labels to collectibles, with a unique selection of wines from Baja California thanks to a partnership with Provino.

The auction will be online and is scheduled for this coming Thursday, September 10 at 4:00PM (local time), 6:00PM (Mexico City time).

Casa de Piedra, Vena Cava, Cava Maciel, Las Nubes, Emeve, Corona del Valle Alximia, Madera 5 and Monte Xanic are some of the wineries that you will be able to find in the catalogue.

The auction is already online on the bidsquare platform, click here to check it out and place a bid.

Sorry US residents; these wines can only be shipped to Mexico addresses.

Consumerism in Mexico Catches Up

There has been a lot in the news lately about junk food sales in Mexico. Earlier this month, Oaxaca’s Congress passed a law that banned the sale of high-calorie drinks and junk food to minors (those under 18). The “ley anti-chatarra,” or “anti-junk food law” was approved by all but one of the lawmakers. Shortly thereafter Adan Lopez Hernandez, Governor of the state of Tabasco, stated that he will introduce a similar bill to the state congress.

At the end of last year, Mexico’s lower house of Congress passed a ruling that certain pre-packaged foods and non-alcoholic drinks would now carry a listing of calories, and amounts of sugar, salt and fats, within a black octagonal symbol appearing on the front of the product. Any ingredient that is in excess of the Health Secretariat guideline will appear in white lettering. After approval in the Senate, it was declared that additional ingredients would include GMOs (genetically modified ingredients), in a “direct, simple, visible, and easy-to-understand way,” according to the lawmakers.

Some of these products are cookies, jams, preserves, soup, evaporated milk, and pre-packaged chips. So much of what is sold in markets are packaged from bulk, and these products are not required to have the warning, although they are as bad, or worse than the commercial products, including small packs of nuts, tamarind candies, and sugary caramel sweets.

An additional warning on products will inform shoppers of the risk of developing diabetes, cancer, heart problems or obesity. Recently, caffeinated products and artificial sweeteners were added to the list, with warnings that these products should not be consumed by children, and cannot include likenesses of celebrities, cartoons, or cute pets on their labels.

These new guidelines are not directed to a small percentage of the Mexican community; three out of four Mexicans (about nine million people) experience obesity and diabetes. According to MexicoNewsDaily.com, the Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell declared that “67% of those who have died from the coronavirus in Mexico had chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, or cardiovascular disease…associated with the consumption of junk food.” Oaxaca’s health services department claims that 28 of every 100 children aged between 5 and 11 are overweight or obese,

Some companies have already begun including these labels, but there is a grace period until March, 2021 before all companies must be compliant. And not everybody is in favor of these new labeling regulations. The National Agricultural Council (CNA) fears that the warnings would “negatively affect the economy” by scaring consumers. Obviously, food and beverage organizations are against anything that may prohibit consumers from purchasing their products.

Like the US, Mexico added new taxes to the products deemed the most harmful; but just taxing these products more does not discourage consumers from purchasing them. President Lopez Obrador launched “awareness campaigns” to inform the Mexican community of the harmful effects of a diet high in calories, fat and salt.

The tax increase of junk food and cigarettes is expected to bring an additional 62 billion pesos (about $3.1 billion USD), according to ElUniversal.com. st

Small mercados are already experiencing a decline in sales. One study showed that 150,000 of Mexico’s “corner stores” closed the first half of 2020, with the threat of another 50,000 closing each month. These closings are not solely due to the slump in junk food sales. The coronavirus had much to do with the closure of shops of all kinds in 2020. A large percentage of products sold in OXXO markets are snack foods containing high levels of sodium and sugar.

To outlaw the sales of unhealthy foods, which hurt the small businessman most, is only one side of the challenge. Perhaps commercials featuring candy, cookies, sugary cereals, and beverages should be banned too, just like ads for cigarettes were banned in the US in 1970.

Many ask if these new laws will actually help anyone. Minors may be unable to purchase these items, but their parents still purchase the products for them, regardless of the tax increase. Junk food is cheap, and healthy food such as beef, fish, fruits, and veggies costs more, especially since COVID put a crimp in the processing and shipping of certain foods.

Mexico is not alone in the fight against unhealthy consumption. Other countries that have already instituted programs such as this one are Peru, Uruguay and Chile. As of today, at least ten Mexican states are considering similar bans, including Puebla, Tabasco, Colima, Chihuahua, Hidalgo, Sonora, Guanajuato, and Baja California Sur. MexicoDailyNews.com reports that “Federal legislators from four different political parties planned to propose a nationwide ban on the sale and marketing of junk food to children.”

The state of Nuevo Leon is going a bit further, working on initiatives to amend the state health law, a law on children’s rights, and another to prevent obesity in all age groups, citing obesity as a nationwide epidemic.

Mexico Starts Phase 2 For Coronavirus

March 31, 2020 UPDATE: Although Mexico is still in phase 2 of the Coronavirus epidemic, with more than 1,000 confirmed cases, its is expected to go into phase 3 at any day now.

 

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced a health plan in response to the transmission of COVID-19 in Mexico. The Navy and National Army will be acting on this strategy.

The route to follow for the next 40 days seeks to manage the risk and achieve a scenario whereby every day, we have a few cases, in order to have enough capacity to treat everyone. This is known as “flattening the curve.”

 

What measures should be taken?

Keep a healthy distance.

All events with 100 or more people will be canceled.

Suspension of work activities involving a large mobilization of people.

Maintain hygienic measures: Wash your hands with water and soap frequently for at least 20 seconds; sneeze into the inside part of your elbow.

Every person that has COVID19 symptoms should stay at home for about 15 days. Pregnant women, elders, hypertension patients should go to the doctor immediately.

 

Coronavirus phase two is declared to have begun

In Mexico, 5 cases were locally transmitted; in response we have decided to start phase two, since usefulness of the containment measures is exhausted and it’s necessary to expand the mitigation measures, stated Hugo Lopez Gatell, head of prevention and health promotion for Mexico.

“We have a slow transmission until it reaches an infection point where the contagion curve goes up. In Mexico, we haven’t gotten to that infection point yet. That is why Mexico still has the opportunity to contain the contagion. Because of this, we decided to declare a phase two”.

Massive measures have a bigger impact on reducing the transmissions, as they allow us “to flatten the curve” of infections. In other words, to have less community transmission, Lopez Gatell said.

 

Navy plan and DN-III Plan will support against COVID-19

For their part, the head of the National Defense and the head of the Navy, have pointed out that they have deployed the DN-III Plan and the Navy Plan, respectively, to support against the coronavirus pandemic.They indicated that they have 1,738 doctors, 1,727 nurses, 100 intensive care ambulances, and 400 transfer ambulances ready to be deployed, as well as enough capacity in facilities, 5 specialty hospitals, 36 second-level hospitals, and 272 first-level hospitals; these last with 262 health platoons, covering almost the entire country.

993 positive cases of COVID-19 in Mexico

Federal Health Secretariat (SSA) officials report in a press conference informed that the number of suspected cases stood at 2,564, and the cases confirmed by COVID-19 increased to 993 in Mexico. At the same time, another 4,955 suspected cases have been found to be negative for COVID-19.

Of the total number of confirmed cases, only 117 people were hospitalized, 65 percent of which are reported as stable, 30 percent as severe, and 5 percent as intubated.

There is also a confirmation of 20 deaths, giving a total of 8,512 people studied.  Overall, 27 states report between one and fifty cases, and three states between 51 and 100 cases.

Also, in the epidemic curve of cases by date of signs and symptoms of the 993 confirmed cases, 60 percent are imported, 27 percent are directly associated with importation, and 13 percent have no relation with importation.

The government is reminding everyone to maintain a healthy distance with other people, as well as to remember that it is essential to stay home as much as you can.

 

SOURCE: Periodico Excelsior

AMLO Will Approve Constellation Brands Brewery in Mexicali if it Doesn’t Affect Water Supply

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that the water supply must be guaranteed to the population of Baja California before allowing the Constellation Brands brewery to be built; otherwise, the brewery would be canceled.

He explained that the Secretariat of the Environment is reviewing the case and will be responsible for resolving the viability of the project that will have a total investment of 1.6 billion dollars and will generate about 30,000 jobs in the area.

“We have to reconcile, first the health of the people, we cannot leave the people without water. If there are other options with water for the people and water for the company, go ahead; if not, it can’t be done. That is the criterion, but you can do both when you are looking for options,” he said in a morning conference.

López Obrador recalled that the operating permit for the brewery was granted in the last six years, and now it will be up to his administration to resolve it, “of course protecting the people.

Earlier this year, Victor Toledo, head of the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat), and Blanca Jimenez Cisneros, director of the National Water Commission (Conagua), agreed that the project does not represent any risk of water shortage for the population of Baja California.

The head of Semarnat explained that the installation of the brewery will not have a negative impact on the water supply in this border valley, taking into account that the plant will require 5.8 million cubic meters, which represents a minimum percentage of its annual consumption.

 

With information from: Milenio

What’s Going On In This Country?

Pacifying unions at what cost? Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, (AMLO) has said he was ordering the education, interior and finance ministries to suspend laws passed by the government of his predecessor, President Enrique Pena Nieto

AMLO says those laws belong to the “neo-liberal” era, his name for the three and a half decades that preceded his election. He has repeatedly blamed that period for aggravating poverty, corruption and violence in Mexico.

The repeal of this law is aimed at buying off the CNTE teachers union – a dissident breakaway group from the biggest union, the SNTE. These young people who call themselves student teachers, although they don’t go to school, have staged months of protests and blockades to pressure Lopez Obrador to dump the 2013 reform that requires new teachers to take a competency exam and forbids the buying and selling of teaching jobs. AMLO  also let the head of the teachers union out of jail, who was found to have $200 million USD in properties, as well as a private jet. AMLO just this week gave her back all of her ill-gotten-booty and she is running for president of the union again! If she wins, she will once again be able to sway elections by delivering 26,000 votes from her teachers.

Central Americans Getting Pushy. Trump is cranking up pressure on Mexico to stop the flow of migrants through that country and it seems to be working. A little bit. Detentions of undocumented migrants waiting for registration in Mexico increased to 12,746 last month, an increase of almost one-third compared to February, and two-thirds compared to January.

The INM says that migrants staying at its facilities are not detained but rather are being held for processing, but rights groups and the migrants themselves say they are not free to leave.

Thousands of migrants have been stranded in Chiapas as they wait to see if they will be granted humanitarian visas, or at least 20-day transit visas that allow them to legally travel through Mexico.

Some of the migrants have been staying inside a makeshift shelter set up inside a sports stadium for almost three weeks, while others have camped in a field. “It’s madness that they’re making us wait so long. For what? For nothing!” said Daisy Maldonado, a 26-year-old from Honduras who traveled to Mexico with her five-year-old daughter.

Immigration Commissioner Tonatiuh Guillén said in a recent interview that a stricter immigration approach was being adopted in the south of Mexico due to a large number of arrivals, but he denied that it was a result of pressure from the United States, although two large groups of migrants – 204 from Honduras and 148 from Cuba – were deported from Mexico in recent days after they were found traveling through the country without having first regularized their immigration status.

“Migration officials are grabbing us like pigs,” said Erick Morazan, a 28-year-old Honduran migrant who traveled at night in a “caravan of zombies” to avoid detection by immigration officials and the possibility of deportation.

In related news. As the number of Central American immigrants has increased, the welcome mat in southern Mexico is being withdrawn. One Mapastepec resident who said she helped provide food for migrant caravans last year told Reuters that migrants “are pouring onto our land” and regularly ask residents for money, rejecting offers of food. A recent poll of close to 500 adults by the Center of Public Opinion at the University of the Valley of Mexico (UVM) found that 83% believed that migrants could cause problems for Mexico, and 62% said they believed Mexico should be tougher on them.

A heads-up vendor. El Chuy is a street vendor with a cart in downtown Oaxaca city. He is done selling his elotes (corn on the cob) and esquites (corn kernels cooked in butter and topped with mayonnaise, chile and lime juice) in the zócalo, or central square, of the southern state’s capital, using Styrofoam cups. He now wraps his goodies in corn husks.

He started using corn husks, explaining he had heard a lot about the damage that Styrofoam causes “to the seas, marine animals and ecosystems.”

Alvarado said his environmentally-conscious decision made more work for himself because he has to get up early in the morning to cut and clean the corn husks, but it’s been worth it: in addition to helping the environment, the Styrofoam substitute has proven popular among El Chuy’s customers. “People say the [the esquites] taste better than with Styrofoam. Corn husks are very clean and they release a very sweet flavor,” Alvarado said.

His sales have also improved, and despite the extra work he puts in, El Chuy continues to sell a serving of esquites at the same old price of 20 pesos (US $1).

Down, boy! Two women were attacked and mauled this week by their own family’s eight dogs — six pit bulls and two dalmatians. Police reported the dogs attacked a 46-year-old woman and her 26-year-old daughter at home. Authorities identified another daughter and her boyfriend, who live in the same house, as the dogs’ owners. The couple voluntarily gave permission for an animal control team to capture the animals.

One year ago two pit bulls killed a seven-year-old child in México state. He and his mother had left the house to go shopping but when they returned they discovered they had left the keys inside. The young boy volunteered to scale the entrance wall but when he descended on the other side the dogs attacked. Neighbors rushed to help but by the time they entered the home the child was dead.

Also on the mainland, a woman was mauled and partially eaten on her way to work by a pack of 11 dogs. Some of the dog’s owners refused to surrender them to authorities.

It gets closer to home: A boy dog riding along the Malecon in La Paz, in the back of a pickup truck, saw a pretty girl dog walking on a leash along the Malecon, just minding her own business. The boy dog leapt out of the truck and attacked. The boy dog’s owner leapt out too and tried to stop the fight the girl dog put up for her honor and the horny out of control dog turned around and bit his own owner in the face, enough that he had to have stitches!

The city of La Paz is trying to ban all dogs from the Malecon because even leashed dogs are biting, but they’re getting so much push back from dog owners, the law probably won’t work.

This isn’t working. Illegal taps on petroleum pipelines increased in both January and February compared to the same months last year despite the federal government’s crackdown on fuel theft.

The state oil company reported that 1,342 new pipeline taps were detected in February, an increase of 9.6% over the same month in 2018.

In January, a month when the federal government was implementing an anti-fuel theft strategy that caused widespread gasoline shortages, there were 1,519 new pipeline taps detected, a 45% increase compared to a year earlier. In Hidalgo, where more than 100 people were killed in January by an explosion at a tapped pipeline, the number of illegal taps still didn’t go down.

Three weeks after he took office on December 1, President López Obrador began implementing a strategy aimed at combating high levels of fuel theft, a crime that costs Pemex billions of pesos a year. The strategy included the closure of several major pipelines and the deployment of the military and Federal Police to protect fuel infrastructure. With pipelines closed, Pemex was forced to make greater use of tanker trucks to transport fuel, a situation that was blamed for causing prolonged gasoline shortages that affected more than 10 states.

The government’s claims that fuel theft has been significantly reduced appear to be not true.

Over $2 million in cash stolen. It took a group of armed men 3 minutes to steal $2.4 million worth of United States and Canadian dollars at Guanajuato International Airport in Central Mexico last Wednesday night, more than double the amount initially reported.

Between six and eight masked men in a truck disguised with a fake Aeroméxico logo breached security to enter the runway area, where they intercepted an airport service vehicle that was in the process of delivering the cash to a waiting aircraft.

The money had arrived at the airport in a PanAmericano armored truck at around 8 p.m. in order to be flown to Mexico City. The armed men stole 14 of 18 bags of cash from a sole unarmed PanAmericano guard and two airport employees traveling across the tarmac in a luggage transport vehicle. The thieves then loaded the money into their truck, drove to the perimeter of the airport property and knocked over a fence to escape.

Shortly after the robbery, police found the truck that was used in the robbery and recovered two of the stolen bags of cash. They later found two more bags of cash in another abandoned vehicle.

Federal and state police, as well as the army, conducted a joint search operation but there have been no arrests. Later, Federal Police set up checkpoints to inspect vehicles entering and leaving the Guanajuato airport as part of wider measures to bolster security at the facility.

What’s Going On In This Country?

Mexico’s President gives away another prize. Teachers affiliated with the dissident CNTE teachers’ union can now take time off for demonstrations and blockades and even go on strike, and they will still get paid.

“No, no, no,” he said, “there will be no discounts to salaries; teachers have the right to protest …” said President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, adding that  “… in the time we’ve been in government there have been no frequent strikes, children have continued to have classes and there has been no major issue.”

Teachers’ pay had been docked in the past if they didn’t show up in the classroom, a measure coherent with the Education Reform approved under former President Peña Nieto’s administration to reduce strikes and protests.

The president stressed that “this is what democracy is like; when there are no more strikes it means that the political system is dead … there must be demonstrations, different points of view … this is democracy.”

AMLO also explained that his administration is considering analyzing a rule that prohibits the payment of salaries to teachers assigned to positions in the union. At present they must be physically present in the classroom to get paid. The policy was part of the 2013 educational reforms, “and we are for its complete cancellation, all of its policies.”

That’s what CNTE members are hoping as they begin another protest today outside the Chamber of Deputies. A spokesman said teachers will continue to protest until “not even a comma remains” of the education reform of 2013.

Union leaders had announced that 40,000 teachers would march at today’s rally, but the newspaper Reforma said about 1,500 turned up.

Beer truck accident becomes a gift. An overturned beer truck was cause for celebration last week in Santa Cruz, Campeche, in Southern Mexico. About 100 people soon arrived at the scene of the accident on the Campeche-Mérida highway and carried away as much as they could. Some couldn’t wait to get home and cracked open some beers on the spot, including a woman who had to rest from the strenuous task by popping open a can and quenching her thirst.

The pillaging did not stop with the beer strewn on the roadside. Even the truck’s tires were stolen. When state and municipal police arrived, they cordoned off the area but did not intervene or attempt to stop the theft. Questioned by reporters, residents declared that stealing the beer mattered little to the brewery because the cargo was covered by insurance.

No arrests were reported, nor was the cause of the accident and the truck driver’s condition is unknown. It was the second accident involving a beer truck in just two days and the second time that a truck’s cargo was looted.

Trump makes new threat. And Mexico retorts saying that trade and immigration are separate issues, in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on Mexican auto imports and close the U.S. border if Mexico doesn’t stop drug and migration flows into the country within a year.

Well, at least we now have a year’s extension, ha!  “For the government of Mexico, keeping migration issues and trade issues separate is very important,” minister of economy Graciela Márquez said.

“The United States government sometimes mixes the two issues, but for us, it’s very important to keep the ratification of the USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) in one lane and issues that have to do with migration in another,” she added.

The economy secretary said that any move by the United States to impose new tariffs would have to be discussed “within the terms of a relationship between trade partners that are modernizing a trade agreement.”

Former president Enrique Peña Nieto, Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed the USMCA deal in November but it won’t take effect until it has been ratified by the legislatures of all three countries. Márquez’s position was supported by the director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), who appeared alongside the economy secretary at yesterday’s press conference.

Last week, Trump said that “… Mexico, for the first time in decades, is meaningfully apprehending illegals at their southern border, before the long march up to the U.S. This is great and the way it should be. The big flow will stop,” he wrote.

“However, if for any reason Mexico stops apprehending and bringing the illegals back to where they came from, the U.S. will be forced to tariff at 25% all cars made in Mexico and shipped over the border to us. If that doesn’t work, which it will, I will close the border,” Trump continued.

According to Kenneth Smith, a trade official who headed up Mexico’s technical negotiating team in trilateral talks with the United States and Canada last year, Trump’s tariff threats are nothing more than bluster that is politically motivated.

“Trump has no basis to argue that he can increase tariffs. Firstly, because if he increases them … he violates WTO rules, he violates the existing North American Free Trade Agreement,” he said.

What’s Going On In This Country?

Teachers’ union goes nuts again.  The latest target of the teacher’s union members’ unhappiness with allowing their skills to be evaluated is the lower house of Congress, which they shut down. Camping out on the railroad tracks cost so many people so much money, that the tactic proved pretty unpopular. Nobody cares about Congress, so now they’re targeting them.

Stolen border fence. Some new barbed wire placed atop the border wall in Tijuana didn’t stay there long: it is now serving to improve security at several area homes on the southern side of the border. The wire was installed to reinforce the Mexico-U.S. border recently in response to the arrival of thousands of migrants in caravans from Central America. But the barbed wire is there no more, leading to the belief that thieves on the Mexico side removed it and sold it in nearby neighborhoods, giving residents protection from the border jumpers.

“We know about the theft of barbed wire because United States authorities have requested our help,” said Tijuana police chief Marco Antonio Sotomayor Amezcua. Houses near the border are now clearly protected with barbed wire of a similar size and what’s more, a type that is not sold in Mexican stores.

So. It’s necessary to protect one’s home, but not one’s country. Got it now. Not saying we understand it, just saying we got it now.

Shot over the bow. Canadian mining companies operating in Mexico should be on notice that the sector is going to face increased scrutiny on its environmental practices and treatment of Indigenous people, according to Mexico’s new ambassador to Canada.

“President Lopez Obrador has been very public about this, that we really want a strong, profitable mining sector – and Canadian mining companies are large investors in Mexico – but we expect them to operate in this country with exactly the same standards as they do in Canada,” Juan Jose Gomez said enforcement of Mexico’s existing laws will be increased under the government of new president Lopez Obrador.

The most pressing task when he gets to Ottawa will be the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade, the text of which was completed nearly six months ago but has yet to be ratified by the partners.

No More Tourist Promotion. The private sector will assume responsibility for marketing Mexico as a tourism destination in light of the federal government’s decision to disband the Tourism Promotion Council (CPTM).

“It’s an effort that must be done together to promote Mexico as a country,” said José Manuel Campos. However, Campos didn’t reveal the size of the budget the new organization will have.

The government’s decision to disband the CPTM shortly after President AMLO took office last December has been widely criticized by members of the tourism and business sectors, including union boss Gustavo de Hoyos, who said it “makes you think that tourism has stopped being a priority.”

Well, yeah. AMLO would rather have his bullet train than tourists speeding into Mexico.

Dead turtles! More than 110 sea turtles have been found dead on beaches in Guerrero so far this month, causing widespread alarm. But a marine biologist says it’s a natural phenomenon that salpa, a zooplankton, sometimes carry high levels of toxins which, when they come in contact with the turtles, paralyzes and kills them.

In 2009 between 500 and 600 dead turtles were found and a similar number perished in the same way in 2016.

The biologist added that illegal fishing techniques, especially using nets in which turtles get trapped, have also been responsible for many deaths.

So far, dead sea turtles have been found in Coyuca de Benítez, San Jerónimo, Tecpan de Galeana, Acapulco and the Costa Chica region in Guerrero, all on the mainland.

Are You Outta Your Mind?? The government of Spain has “vigorously” rejected a request from Mexican President López Obrador that Spain apologizes for its conquest of Mexico that occurred about 500 years ago. López Obrador wants an apology for the indignities suffered by the native peoples during the period of the Spanish conquest.

2021 will be known as the Year of Historical Reconciliation when Mexico celebrates 200 years of independence and 500 years since the taking of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. It appears Spain will not be part of the festivities.

What’s Going On In This Country?

Border emergency. You want to talk about a border emergency? Grab your passport and take a quick trip with me around the world. Look at the tensions between Israel and Syria. India and Pakistan. Iraq and Iran. Colombia and Venezuela. South Korea and North Korea. Now, closer to home, look at this relationship: United States-Mexico.

Thank goodness for good neighbors.

Can we have one of those? Groundbreaking took place Monday near Cancún for a US $312 million mall that will offer major brands. The Grand Outlet Riviera Maya will employ its “malltertainment” concept as nearly half the square footage will be allocated to entertainment attractions. The malltertainment concept consists of offering an all-round experience to the consumer. They even get an ice rink.

Construction started this week and is expected to take 18 months. There will also be a 7,500-seat auditorium, water features, an amusement park, a go-kart track described as the largest in the world and a hot air balloon ride. And three hotels.

Vanishing dolphins. Only 22 vaquita type of porpoises remain in the Gulf of California, a biology professor said yesterday, warning that the species could become extinct within months. The only place they can be found is the upper Sea of Cortez.

How do they know this? It’s a big sea, how can they be sure they’ve counted them all? Because 22 vaquitas were heard over a network of acoustic monitors. Ha! Maybe some vaquita were there and had nothing to say.

Vaquita huggers want more vigilance by the Navy but after angry fishermen who are accidently catching the little dolphins in their nets attacked a ship, Navy vessels have been too scaredy able to stop the illegal fishing.

Who doesn’t like Oxxo? Some residents of Oaxaca claim Oxxo is a threat to Mexico’s heritage. A movement calling itself anti-Oxxo, (less than imaginative but descriptive), erected blockades on several streets to prevent the mega-chain from constructing a new store in front of an elementary school. The group hopes to get all the locations in the city closed down. Members demand that the city government review every location’s construction permits and prohibit the franchise from opening more stores. Whoa, this is serious if they’re demanding permits. No way Oxxo, or any sophisticated chain spreads its tentacles legally.

At least five Oxxos are already located in the city center, which has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is a very cute town.

Electricity is terrorism now? For the second time this year the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) cut electricity service to the Acapulco water and sewer system, a move described by the water utility as “terrorism.” 600,000 residents were without water, no word on the sewer system, shudder.

The utility had been making daily payments, trying to catch up on the $3.5 million they owe. The day before the “terrorism” against the water/sewer system, they cut off the lights.

Walmart uprising. More than 8,500 Walmart employees in 10 states are seeking a 20% pay increase and a fat bonus. The mainly female cashiers and other low-ranking employees earn on average between US $7 to $7.50 per day, (minimum wage is about $5 a day). They are not enrolled in medical insurance or retirement, their union claims. This is illegal.

In addition, they charge that Walmart doesn’t respect the right to an eight-hour work day, doesn’t pay overtime in accordance with the law, discriminates against pregnant women, and has dismissed workers unfairly. Workers at 121 Walmart stores as well as 56 Sam’s Club outlets and an unspecified number of Bodega Aurrera stores are prepared to walk off the job and in some states they are supported by governors who have acknowledged the “abuse” to which Walmart employees are subjected. Uh, well, why didn’t they stop it then?

The threatened strike follows widespread job actions in several other states where thousands of factory workers have won 20% pay increases and annual bonuses of as much as US $1,650. And they got this within days. However, those were manufacturers who had big contracts to deliver product and would suffer badly if they didn’t deliver. Maybe Walmart can go a few days or weeks without selling a pair of socks.

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