What’s Going On In This Country?

October 19, 2015
BY: SANTIAGO VERDUGO

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I’ve been getting ready for Halloween this week, check out the first picture here, it’s a selfie of my spooky look. I just covered my normally handsome stripes in black shoe polish on a trial run to see how I look. Turns out that stuff rubs off on the furniture, who knew? Next picture is the clean up, not so much fun. Scratch the shoe polish look.

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My mom’s idea is for me to go as taco cat in a nod to my heritage, she says. I says I think this costume nods a lack of appropriate dignity, and that’s just for starters on my list of objections.

My next bright idea is a way better acknowledgment of my heritage, I could go as a lion! Yes, that’s it, that’s the winning ticket! I would be proud to go as a jungle cat, and here I am practicing my jungle strut in the back yard. This is way handsomer than a stupid taco.

Mom’s got my girlfriend Fluffy dressed up as, what? Donald Trump in drag? What’s that she’s got on her head, a babushka for crying out loud? I’m not taking her to the party in that getup, Mom’s got to do better than that. A jungle cat’s concubine could work nicely. Yes, that would be fine, I need one of those.

Oh, and here’s your national news for the week. I hope you enjoy it cause I need this job. I’ve been informed that the furniture clean up is coming out of my paycheck.

 

Manhole cover alert. In rural areas of Mexico, thieves help themselves to petroleum products by tapping into the vast network of Pemex pipelines. But in Mexico City they go after manhole covers and drainage grates and sell them to scrap metal dealers.

City officials say the current administration has spent more than a million dollars, replacing the covers and grates in the city’s water distribution system. Water system chief Miguel Carmona Suárez said there were 367 reports of missing grates in the first seven months of the year. Each one costs more than $500, including installation. They can also be costly in terms of the danger they pose to vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Minimum wage grief.  While hamburger flippers in the States are whining for $15 an hour, minimum wage in Mexico is about $4.50 a day. Katie, bar the border. There are now two minimum wages in the country, depending on where one toils for so little, but soon there will only be one. The spread is about 6 pesos a day but that is seen as such a huge gap, that they’re going to (about 30 cents a day), will be phasing it in slowly. It went up about 4/5% this year, which some saw as barely keeping pace with inflation. Nobody believes the “official” rate of inflation, which most feel is fictitious to justify not raising the minimum wage more. The minimum wage, widely regarded as stingy and, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, below the poverty line. Mexico is the only country in the region to have earned that distinction.

The problem is, Mexico is aggressively going after manufacturing jobs they can only get if their wages are low. Or, they could improve their education system and go after more technical jobs, which pay better. Or not.

Reboot. The Mexican communications satellite Morelos 3 was launched successfully from Cape Canaveral, only four months after a another, disastrous launch by the Ruskies. When Russia screwed up the launch of the Boeing built satellite, and it blew up shortly after launch, the Mexicans vowed not to buy a cut rate launch again, and contracted with the Americans for this one..

The lifespan of the communications satellite is expected to be 15 years, a period in which it will serve as a critical communications tool during emergencies and natural disasters. “This satellite will provide the best satellite coverage to those Mexicans living in remote areas, where conventional means of communication haven’t yet reached yet,” said Communications Secretary Gerardo Ruiz. Mexsat is a $1 billion program.

The horse is gone. Time to close the barn door. 13 men, including three high-level cartel members, were extradited from Mexico to the United States to face charges on a number of crimes such as drug trafficking and murder, including the killing of a U.S. consulate employee. Following El Chapo’s embarrassing jailbreak, the Mexican government admitted it had received an extradition request from the United States for him to be kept there. But nooooo......Mexico said they were perfectly capable of keeping the human mole in their prison, thank you very much. Ja! Guess not. So now Mexico has packed off 13 of their highest risk prisoners to face serious time in American prisons, which they will find to be no day at the beach. There will be no buying of favors there, as they do here.

Here comes the Pope.  Next year is Mexico’s turn to host the Pope, who is expected to visit us at a date to be determined, but will be in 2016. The Mexican President’s office confirmed that contacts between the government and The Vatican have been initiated to prepare for a visit by Papa Paco.

“He is definitely going to come; The date, which will be determined by the Vatican, still has not been determined,”  said presidential spokesman Eduardo Sanchez announced. The daily La Jornada confirmed that the Mexican Bishops Conference, known as the CEM, said that last week The Vatican informed it that the pope would come to Mexico in 2016. So far the only part of the trip that has been firmed up is that Francis will visit Mexico City.

Oh good luck with this. The new trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), whose ratification is expected between January and March next year, will compel Mexico to fully establish an anti-corruption system or they can’t play. A summary of the agreement indicates that the 12 member countries of the TPP pledged to adopt or maintain laws that criminalize the actions of public officials who offer or ask for “unfair advantages or benefits.”

The summary also states that signing countries must “increase the training of public officials to take steps to discourage gifts, to facilitate reporting acts of corruption, and to provide for disciplinary or other measures for public officials engaging in acts of corruption.” This poses a big problem for Mexico, as the country has now fewer than 38 trade pacts with countries from all over the world, and would very much like to qualify for this trade deal.

In addition to Mexico, the U.S. and Japan, the 12 participating countries are Canada, Chile, Peru, Australia, Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. In the last Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International in 2014, Mexico falls well behind the other TPP member countries. Of those, New Zealand leads the list with a 91 accountability score. The last three, by score, are Perú, with 38 points, Mexico, with 35, and Vietnam, with 31.

Program in major fail. Last year the United States sent millions of dollars to Mexico to pay fishermen not to fish in certain areas of the northern Sea of Cortez for fear they would snuff out the last remaining vaquitas, a porpoise like sea critter. Could they relax at home for the season, spending their free money? No. They took the money and went fishing anyway, depleting the 1000 remaining vaquitas by about 50%.

800 agents of various branches of the federal government have arrested 19 people and seized 22 boats, eight vehicles, 211 fish parts, about 53,000 kilograms of fish and 543 totoabas, another species listed as endangered. Huh? That’s 42 cops for each arrested fisherman. That oughta do it all right. Until they tunnel out.

Movie madness. The people of Juarez, a city hard by the U.S. border across the river from El Paso Texas, are pissy about a U.S. made movie just out called Sicario. That’s Spanish for hitman and the movie is about the huge number of narco related killings on the streets of Juarez a few years ago. They are unhappy that people are not showing any sense of humor about Juarez being the killing capitol of Mexico, and anyway that was a few years ago, they’ve pretty much got things under control now. Operative words being “pretty much”.

The mayor of Juarez is calling for a boycott of the movie, which Mexicans haven’t even seen yet, as it has not been released here. But they’re pretty sure they aren’t going to like it.