What’s Going On In This Country?

September 21, 2015
BY: SANTIAGO VERDUGO

Santiago_0.jpgI thought I would entertain you with a little drawing I made for my girlfriend Fluffy. That’s her with her back towards you. It’s a picure of me and the Flufster messing around on the computer. Well, actually, I’m messing around on the computer while Fluffy is admiring my computer skills.

And, I didn’t really sell the dog on eBay although I could if there would be any takers, ja ja ja!

 

Our Druggies Can’t Do Anything Right. Aren’t our Mexican druggies supposed to be cracker jack at growing, manufacturing, and selling drugs? Aren’t our guys the most bad ass head choppers in the world? Then just what are we doing importing 436 lbs of cocaine from those stumble bums in Colombia??

And, FYI, those same stumble bums down there in that 4th world country did such a bad job of wrapping the drugs in toner cartridges that it was discovered before it even got out of Columbia.

Our thieves are just going to have to start doing business with a better class of thieves. Or at least a smarter class of thieves.

And what’s up with our petrol thieves? Two illegal taps into the gasoline pipeline in Oaxaca last weekend have resulted in environmental and economic damages for farmers and ranchers in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. One tap was followed by a spill that spread over a five-kilometer stretch, reaching a river and affecting at least 18 farms and ranches, where cattle are drinking contaminated water.

The sickening smell of gasoline has been present for at least four days and extends down the river as the leak flows. Producers and farmers in both towns say they reported the smell and possible contamination of the creek, but they claim that Pemex representatives took their sweet time to respond.

Pemex personnel, however, allege that their slow response was due to the locals impeding their access to the compromised pipeline, demanding reparations before officials could even start mopping up. Says ranch owner Leticia Salas Bernal: “They [Pemex] are the ones who contaminated, they should be the ones to clean up. But the clean-up should not last a week because the creeks and rivers remain polluted months after the spill, affecting my pasture and farm lands. Whoa, Nellie, it was the gas thieves who are responsible, did you ever think of dropping a dime when you saw them cruise into your range? Of course not.

Just 20 minutes away from that spill, another illegal tap into the pipeline was detected, spilling 90,000 liters of gasoline into the Boca del Monte lagoon, After two days of work, Pemex personnel were able to retrieve 48,000 liters. The rest sank into the environment and was stolen by all the neighbors who piled on.

santiago_0.jpgMexicans are learning to fly. Travel by air continues to grow in Mexico at the expense of the bus lines, whose fares in many cases are higher than those of the airlines. 20 years ago, just 0.9% of Mexicans traveled by air, a figure that has risen to 1.8%, according to estimates by the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation. The number of people who have traveled by plane grew 68% in the past 10 years, a period during which bus passenger levels grew just 21%.

One reason why travelers are choosing air over ground travel is the fares. Bus tickets increased 21% in price between 2012 and 2015 but airline tickets rose by only 2.6% in the same period. More Mexicans are discovering the advantages of air travel, according to the airlines, which estimate that during the past year 27% of their passengers — 877,480 people — were traveling by plane for the first time

Canada still closed to Mexicans. Bernard Trottier, a candidate in the October 19 federal election, has said that Mexico has not met socioeconomic requirements to qualify for the lifting of the visa rule, which was implemented in 2009.

At the time it was explained that bogus refugee claims by Mexican citizens were the reason for imposing the visa requirement, which was expected to be a temporary measure, but nobody believed that then or now. Too many Mexicans were arriving on vacation, taking a look at the generous social benefits and choosing to remain and going on the dole. Every Mexican official since then has complained about this, even to the point of straining diplomatic relations.

But the need for obtaining a visa remains. Trottier said that under the criteria Canada uses to judge whether a visa should be required, Mexico does not qualify. “We hope that in the future it will, as is the case with Chile, but it does not meet those criteria. They’re based on socioeconomic factors.”

Trottier explained that thanks to the visa rule the Canadian government has saved CAD $500 million annually in refugee processing costs, choosing not to go into how much in social benefit costs Canada has saved.

Mexico steps up to the plate. It was a big step for Mexico when President Enrique Peña Nieto announced in September last year that the Mexican military will participate in international peacekeeping operations conducted by the United Nations.

Yesterday, that big step materialized in a rather small way: turns out a total of two soldiers will join a UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon in November.

Mexico goes English. Mexico will be a bilingual country within 10 to 20 years, the new Secretary of Education has forecast. Aurelio Nuño Mayer said the federal government is working on the creation of a national English program in order to reach that goal. “English is the language through which we can all communicate; it is a tool and a fundamental part of professional development and modernization,” he said.

Kids are supposed to learn it now, but they don’t, largely because the teachers don’t know it. Estimates of the number of Mexicans who speak or understand English run between 2% and 5%, a situation that represents a great cost to the country’s competitiveness internationally, said Mayer.

This brings me to one of my favorite jokes. Question: what do you call a monolingual person? Answer: American

He expressed alarm earlier this year that teaching English was not a priority in a country whose major trading partners are English-speaking. He cited some figures to make his point: 80% of basic education graduates — those who complete primary and secondary levels — have no knowledge of English at all, and in only 48% of Mexico’s universities is English a mandatory course. Nor do businesses allocate any resources for training staff in English. “It is a subject that has been abandoned not only by the government, but by the private sector as well.” He observed that workers who can speak English can earn 28% to 50% more than those who do not.

Mother of all tamales. People in New Mexico are claiming they have cooked the world’s longest tamale.

A team of more than 30 chefs did it to celebrate the state’s heritage. Well, it’s a fake heritage, we are the real deal and we should be the ones to build this tamale.

These imposters claim they built a 116 foot, 7 inch long tamale at the fairgrounds in Belen New Mexico.

It took 120 pounds of masa and 50 pounds of green chile. A local manufacturer of home improvement material designed a special steamer out of aluminum to cook the tamale in.

The team plans to submit all the required documentation to Guinness World Records to get official recognition for the achievement.

According to Guinness World Records, the longest tamale assembled was in Cancún, in 2011 and measured a little longer than 66 feet. Geeze, only 66 feet, we got our ass whipped. ,

We don’t gotta show you no stinkin papers. CURP, the national identity card, is now going to be required for any identification, announced the feds. The Secretary of Gobernación (Segob) is going to use the CURP card as the key to access all the paperwork, transactions and formalities related with the government. For this reason they are now working on the consolidation of the Personal Identification National System. Expect to see the CURP adopted as the ID document with biometric data, (fingerprinting and eyeball scanning), as was planned in the past administration and never implemented. Mexicans have concerns over this, but they are not rioting in the streets over it, as Americans would over a national identity card with so much personal information on it, so expect it to be implemented.

We’re sliding into debt. The governement debt is now 42% of Mexico’s GDP, 3.4% higher than six months ago. The criticizm of this debt is centered around the fact that many people don’t see where the spending was.

Mexico loves football. No, not soccer, real American football. The kind that beats young mens’ brains to mush.  Sales of NFL merchandise in Mexico grew 300% in seven years. Official merchandise is sold in stores in most of the country. Seven years ago there were 100 sales locationsare now there are more than 2,000 stores, including department stores, sports stores, in addition to the online store.

New Banks for us. In the last month the CNBV (National Banking and Securities Commission), has  authorized two institutions to begin to operate as banks. Sabadell is Spanish and Banco Shinhan is Korean. The Mexican Banks Association and the Finance Ministry anticipated that before this year ends, there will be four new banks in Mexico. But don’t get exxited, the banks will still be operated by Mexicans and will still be all screwed up. Most of the worst banks now are foreign owned. And yes, the American owned banks are equally, uh, “difficult”.

We are loved. Investments in Mexico have grown 7.6 % since this time last year. The exchange rate helps, no doubt about that.

Race for mortgage deals. Banamex was the first to announce last June that they will lower their interest rates for mortgages to 8.5%, while HSBC offers 8.45% and Santander has the lowest in the market at 7.55%. The main banks of the country say that they are eager to loan, which they have not been in recent years. President Pena Nieto promised to shake the money tree for home buyers and it looks like he has.

The banks have promised new procedures, better response times, and fewer bullshit requirements. And, consumers will be allowed to move their mortgage easily, in no more than 15 days, if they don’t like the treatment they’re getting.

Banks have historically taken advantage of homeowners in a way that Americans would never stand for. But these new laws, if enforced, might change the landscape of homeownership. And does President Pena Nieto get credit at the polls? No, the public is fixated on the shoot em ip narco situation and doesn’t see the finer points of the economy.

Cuba travel. The Secretary of Tourism Enrique de la Madrid, said the trade relations between Cuba and Mexico should be expanded for the huge potential for international tourism. This came during his first working trip abroad, and leading a group of 50 tourism sector ducklings. De la Madrid said Mexico and Cuba should not see to each other as competitors for the tourist bucks, but to start working as partners to create a multi destination travel offer.

Mexico now has the second largest number of flights to Cuba, right after Canada. Tourism is for Cuba the second largest income source. Last year the island received 3 million of visitors.

Presiden’t state of the republic address. In his recent third annual state of the republic address, President Pena Nieto admitted that the narcos running loose and in particular the escape of El Chapo are big problems. However, he also pointed out that during his administration, there has been the arrest or death of 92 of the 122 most wanted criminals in the country, and that his government has accepted and implemnted all the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH).

He admitted that between 2012 and 2014, 2 million people slipped into poverty, and that this will make the government  “redouble efforts” in that department. Peña Nieto recognizes that Mexico is not moving as it should, which he attributed to the instability of the international economy and corruption that persists in this country.

Peña Nieto came to power in December 2012 with 38% of the vote. Nearly three years later, the papers are screaming that his popularity is at the lowest levels of his term. Just how low is it? 38% according to most polls. ,