What’s Going On In This Country?

September 7th, 2015
BY: SANTIAGO VERDUGO

Santiago_1.jpgNow, I’m as patriotic as the next Mexican, I’ve certainly been known to wave the bandera for the Republic, but wearing this stereotype sombrero is where I draw the line. My mom is a Gringa, (I’m actually adopted), and if you ask me, she’s jealous of my status as a Mexie. That’s why every Independence Day she has to dress me up in what she refers to as my native clothing. Fur is my native clothing, hellloooo!

This year she stuck the damn hat on me and held me so tight I couldn’t get away until someone snapped a picture of my humiliation.

You can just bet that next year I will see this coming and take a hike til after the holiday on September 16.

 

No thanks, we’d rather starve. Top Mexican chefs urged the president to join them in their opposition to genetically modified corn in a country where fully 34% of this important staple has to be imported. About 100 well known chefs hopped on this bandwagon.

Last year Mexico temporarily banned cultivation of the crops in which some genes are modified to make them hardier or make them work better with a particular pesticide. But a judge ruled a week later to suspend the temporary hold.

While supporters say the modified crops may bring larger yields, detractors worry that the crop itself could be unhealthy for humans, and that pesticides will sully their farmland and water supply. Some social groups and environmental organizations have protested, calling for the ban to be permanent.

“Growing these products undermines the biodiversity of our native corn grains and endangers their very existence,” the chefs said in a statement. Mexico is a leading producer of white corn from which tortillas, a staple of the Mexican diet, are made

What are we, chopped liver? Move over, Colima, Mérida has moved into the top spot on the National Quality of Life Index, a measurement of the best and t1he worst cities in Mexico in which to live. The capital of Yucatán edged up from last year’s second place to oust Colima, the capital of the state with the same name, which plunged to sixth place in the fourth annual survey of Mexico’s most habitable cities. Mérida scored 83.3 points out of 100 on an index based on residents’ views about housing, schooling, mobility, cleanliness, recreational opportunities, citizen coexistence, museums and historical places, natural beauty, quality of life compared to last year and quality of life compared to the rest of the country. Well, we’ll take Cabo over some dumpy city over on the mainland.

What is wrong with these people?  A recent poll asked, “If you were offered a meal of turtle eggs, whose possession is illegal, would you eat them? 3% said they would gulp them right down, yes indeedy, screw the turtles. 97% claimed they wouldn’t, but there is such a thriving black market for turtle eggs, you know half of that 97% is lying their ass off.

Let’s clap them in jail. As nine state governors prepare to leave office after completing their six year terms later this year, it seems most of them are taking a big chunk of their state’s funds with them. The governors of Michoacán, Colima, Nuevo León, Querétaro, Sonora, Guerrero, San Luis Potosí, Campeche and our own Baja California Sur, have yet to account to the Federal Auditor’s Office (ASF) for some dodgy expenditures, which amount to the not insignificant sum of $972.8 million U.S.

The most common irregularities detected by the auditor include bank transfers to unauthorized accounts, the absence of refunds from interest income or under spending, overpriced and/or under used purchases, spending in areas other than those originally intended, or payments made to unqualified teaching and medical staff.

The governor of Michoacán is the biggest thief, according to ASF data: expenditures of 7.8 billion pesos have yet to be explained by the government of former governor Fausto Vallejo Figueroa, who left office early for health reasons. Yeah, it’s unhealthy to live in jail and he loses his immunity the day he leaves office. A head start is a good thing.

The state Finance Secretary claims that the current administration inherited debt from the previous one, a situation that has only worsened since. He also accepted the amount claimed by the auditor’s office, but while the current government will try to clarify its expenditures, it is likely that the governor-elect will be inheriting the anomalies, which will add to the state’s indebtedness.

Under tepid investigation here is a questionable payment of 1.7 million pesos from a health services fund to pay six medical specialists who couldn’t prove their qualifications and were thus deemed unfit for the positions for which they were hired.

Hot fuel? Could be. Federal authorities estimate that 30% of all gasoline and diesel sold in Mexico’s Pemex stations is stolen, a figure they hope will be reduced by new controls on fuel sales that take effect next year. The Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE), a relatively new agency created by energy reforms, will become directly responsible for combating fuel theft on January 1, when it implements a series of new measures to monitor fuel sales and distribution.

A CRE representative spoke this week at Expogas, a conference of gas station owners and operators being held in Querétaro on the mainland, to explain the new procedures, chief among them registering all commercial fuel transactions in which all gas stations must participate, although only half of Mexico’s 15,000 stations have begun the process of obtaining the permit, they will need to do so, to continue operating. Oh yeah, sure. Some stations are so crooked that when the Mexican version of the bureau of weights and measures shows up for their periodical check on the honesty of the pumps, the owners of the gas stations chase them off, refusing to cooperate. So Profeco meekly slinks away. What good is an enforcement agency that weak?

They’re claiming that due to a 90 day processing period, stations that haven’t applied by the end of September will not be allowed to operate come January 1. Want to bet how many stations will be buttoned up come next January?

Another piece of the system, which will become operational in 2018, is a website where consumers can access maps showing the locations of all the country’s gas stations, and their current prices. Yes, stations will be able to set their own prices, within a narrow range. Mexico’s 15,000 stations sell 200 million liters of gasoline and diesel per day, of which 30% is estimated to be stolen.

More Pemex news. We are all frustrated by some of the local Pemex stations’ short pour. Sometimes the gas stations get so greedy that it’s obvious our tank can’t hold as much fuel as the pump shows we just bought. But by the end of the year a smart phone app that is in beta test right now will keep track of those thieving stations. It’s community based, meaning if you think you have been cheated, you post the location of the gas station. Others will check the app before buoying fuel to see if the station they’re headed for has been accused of ripping off their customers. This should really help to put a stop to the practice. Your favorite newspaper, (that would be us, Bunky), will post those scores every issue, in case you are not smart enough to operate a smart phone. 

The Federal Electricity Commission’s (CFE) boss said yesterday that 16% of the energy it produces is stolen or lost every year, a percentage that represents a financial cost of about U.S. $3 billion. But Enrique Ochoa also said the electric utility is mad as hell and isn’t going to stand for this anymore. He says CFE plans to reduce lost electricity by 1% per year, dropping the percentage to 11% by the end of 2018. The long term goal is to get it down to below 6%, a figure that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says should be the maximum for competitive countries. The CFE says most of its losses are incurred in the Mexico City metropolitan area in the Valley of México and stem from the now-defunct Central Light and Power (LFC), which was liquidated by then-president Felipe Calderón in 2009. Its annual losses, largely due to electricity theft, ran to 30% per year or more. Losses in the Valley of México were down to 25% last year, of which 17% was due to theft. The remainder was lost through a poorly maintained transmission and distribution system, said a report published by El Financiero last June.

One of CFE’s strategies to reduce theft is the installation of new meters. Over the next 12 to 18 months it will install more than 1 million in the State of México, Tabasco and the Federal District.

CFE strikes back. CFE has been accused of setting its standard line voltage to 128 volts instead of the 115 volts in the U.S. and Canada. This allows them to save money because they can push the power farther with fewer substations. But the result is burned out light bulbs, fried electric motors, and other damage to equipment. This is a hidden tax we as consumers pay.,