Why the fight over Mexico's labour reforms is the latest threat to new NAFTA deal
Depending how hard the U.S. Democrats dig in, the demands could throw an already troubled ratification process completely off course this year
Mexican lawmakers are expected to soon clear a key hurdle to the ratification of the new North American Free Trade Agreement by passing legislation enabling a major overhaul of the country’s labour laws.
But that might not be enough to win the support of skeptical Congressional Democrats.
Driven by a belief that the original NAFTA failed in its promise to narrow wide gaps in worker rights and wages between Mexico and the U.S., some are demanding to reopen talks in order to negotiate stronger enforcement provisions. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says they’ll also seek proof that the reforms are being implemented.
Depending how hard the Democrats dig in, the demands could throw an already troubled ratification process completely off course this year — particularly now that Canada and Mexico have both said reopening the deal is a non-starter.
https://business.financialpost.com/news ... nafta-deal
The whole issue of labor rights in regards to the new NAFTA is extremely interesting, especially given how it dovetails with Mexican President Lopez-Obrador's populist-progressive stance of reforming labor by rooting out corruption and providing verifiable transparency of labor relations, as well as better wages and conditions. It is also notable that it is the Democrats who are making these demands, but it remains to be seen how much Lopez-Obrador is willing to cede in the side agreements. I have a feeling the new NAFTA will get bogged down in the election year and whatever chaos Drumpf is causing then... But who knows, maybe the labor reform could still end up making Mexico an even more attractive spot for moving factories to, thereby causing another "great sucking sound to the south" thanks to Drumpf...Also, I have a feeling he has no idea what is going on with the new NAFTA, so I guess it all depends on if or when he finds out there is nothing about a wall in the whole damn thing!
Either give me more wine or leave me alone. - Rumi
Adding:The little-noticed surge across the U.S.-Mexico border: It’s Americans heading south
President Trump regularly assails the flow of migrants crossing the Mexican border into the United States. Less noticed has been the surge of people heading in the opposite direction.
Mexico’s statistics institute estimated this month that the U.S.-born population in this country has reached 799,000 — a roughly fourfold increase since 1990. And that is probably an undercount. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City estimates the real number at 1.5 million or more. ...
“It’s beginning to become a very important cultural phenomenon,” Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister, said in an interview. “Like the Mexican community in the United States.”
And yet, he said, Mexican authorities know little about the size or needs of their largest immigrant group. He has been tasked by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador with changing that. ...
“Despite the fact that Donald Trump insults my country every day, here we receive the entire international community, beginning with Americans, with open arms and hearts,” Villareal said.
Mexican authorities say that many of the Americans are probably undocumented — typically, they’ve overstayed their six-month visas. But the government has shown little concern.
“We have never pressured them to have their documents in order,” Ebrard said. ...
“We like people who come to work and help the economy of the city — like Mexicans do in the United States.”
Newsweek: Thousands of Americans are Crossing the Border Into Mexico Every Year to Get Affordable Medical Treatment
As to the last link, I know several people who have gone to Mexico for dental work. If I needed even somewhat extensive dental work, I would go to Costa Rica, but that's just me. Everyone who has gone to Mexico has been really happy with it. Some of them could have afforded any price care here in US, but felt they got better care there (especially with dental implants). Saving money was just a nice side effect.
"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." -- Thomas Paine
a fresh factory (see above clip) intended to serve among others the US market
Why Trump's Threatened Mexico Tariffs Are Really Bad News for BMW
BY GABRIELLE COPPOLA AND ANDREA NAVARRO / BLOOMBERG JUNE 6, 2019
BMW executives opened the automaker’s first Mexican assembly plant extolling its value for the coming years, just a week after President Donald Trump threatened a fresh tariff threat on Mexican goods.
BMW spent about $1 billion on the plant, set in the vast arid plains of San Luis Potosi in north-central Mexico. It’s one of three — the other two are in Germany and China — that will produce the next-generation 3 Series sedan for sale in the U.S. and other markets.
The automaker has no reason to change its plans for the site because of the current political climate, BMW board member Oliver Zipse at its inauguration Thursday. The factory will supply more than 40 markets worldwide starting next year and “it would be very speculative to make decisions on short-term announcements,” he said.
The timing comes just days after President Trump threatened to impose a 5% tariff on all goods imported from Mexico on June 10, unless that country takes unspecified steps to stop illegal migration from Central America. The levies would escalate every month until reaching 25% in October according to the White House plan.
San Diego Union-Tribune
Americans make up Mexico’s largest demographic of immigrants
The net flow of United States immigrants to Mexico is larger than the flow of Mexican-born immigrants into the United States: Mexican government ...
Americans immigrants living the Mexican dream can have the same hopes and goals of the Mexican immigrant in the U.S.: to get a little ahead or to start a new life.
There may be more Americans living south-of-the-border than previously noticed.
Last month, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador tasked his foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, with gathering data on U.S. immigrants, who also go largely undocumented.
The Mexican government determined Americans are actually Mexico’s largest group of immigrants.
López Obrador mentioned the southbound surge last week during a speech in Tijuana promoting friendship between the two countries.
“A little-cited fact is that in Mexico, there are about 1.2 million Americans. That is, our two countries are protagonists of the largest demographic exchange in the world,” said López Obrador.
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said the figure might be an undercount, because many Americans overstay their visa.
Would be interesting to see how many expats are there for retirement and how many are "starting a new life", eg being entrepreneurs even at the Mom and Pop shoplevel, or woeking as employee (most likely in a subsidary of an international company).
Tell me that's not true Paging Mr Gavin Seim prior of Washington State.The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said the figure might be an undercount, because many Americans overstay their visa.
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I wonder how many of the 1.2 mil people there are who were born in Mexico, came north, became American citizens and then decided to retire in Mexico? The current political climate would certainly encourage them.
Miami Herald OpEd - Andres Oppenheimer
Mexico’s leader is very popular, but his country is going downhill ...
From what we have seen since his July 1, 2018 election, and especially since his Dec. 1 inauguration, López Obrador is ruling like a narcissist populist who disdains key democratic institutions and who is setting the clock back to Mexico’s inward-looking nationalism of the 1970s.
Those were the some of the thoughts that came to mind this week while I interviewed the most recent U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Roberta Jacobson. She is a career diplomat who served as President Trump’s ambassador to Mexico before retiring in May 2018. ...
“And if he really wants to erase or reduce corruption in Mexico, what he needs is to strengthen institutions,” she added. “I don’t see that happening. I see a man who sometimes believes that ‘only I can do this or that,’ and that government institutions are only an obstacle to achieve his goals.”
Jacobson concluded that Mexico runs the risk of moving “toward a kind of authoritarianism that could really further damage Mexico’s institutions, which are still weak and need to be strengthened.”
Indeed, despite controlling Congress and enjoying a high popularity rate averaging 62 percent in several polls, López Obrador has made many decisions by questionable “public referendums” run by his loyalists. He has stacked the courts and government agencies with ruling party apparatchiks, and is attacking nongovernment organizations.
It is López Obrador’s public disdain for institutions - more than his leftist rhetoric against what he calls “neoliberal” governments of the past - that is spooking domestic and foreign investors. Many business people fear that there will be fewer checks and balances, and investors will have no legal protections.
Many foresee a return to Mexico’s old days, when the authoritarian Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) - in which López Obrador started his political career - ran a democratically elected authoritarian system. Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa once mockingly described that system as “the perfect dictatorship.”
Mexico's new National Guard was created to fight crime, but now it's in a face-off with migrants
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) - A convoy of Mexican state and municipal police trucks roared along the U.S.-Mexico border in Ciudad Juarez to confront cartel gunmen, past National Guardsmen patrolling the banks of the Rio Grande River for migrants trying to cross into the United States.
“We should be with them, not here. We’re soldiers,” one of three guardsmen in a green camouflage uniform grumbled to himself within earshot of a Reuters reporter. He was frustrated that orders kept him from going to back up police in the shootout with gangsters.
The National Guard is a new security force that was created by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to bring down record homicide rates. But now it has been tasked with patrolling the border to placate President Donald Trump, who has demanded Mexico stem the flow of U.S.-bound Central Americans that pass through the country or risk tariffs on Mexican goods.
If the deployment of some 21,000 National Guard troops at Mexico’s northern and southern borders can reduce the flow of migrants, Lopez Obrador will have successfully kept Trump’s tariffs at bay and averted opening up another front in the global trade war.
But using almost a third of the National Guard’s total ranks for migration duties means fewer security forces to tackle one of Mexico’s most pressing issues, spiraling violence, which last year cost a record 33,000 lives. Those numbers continued surging in the first six months of Lopez Obrador’s term in office, which began in December.
U.S. begins returning asylum seekers to one of Mexico’s most dangerous states
NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico — When the United States began sending asylum seekers to wait in Mexico earlier this year as their claims were processed, many regarded the dangerous northeastern state of Tamaulipas as a worst-case scenario.
The State Department warns against all travel to Tamaulipas — the same risk level it has assigned Syria and Afghanistan. Doctors Without Borders reports that 45 percent of its recent patients in this city, among the largest in the state, were migrants who had “suffered at least one episode of violence” while waiting here to cross the U.S. border.
But on Tuesday morning, the United States sent the first 12 migrants back to Tamaulipas under a program known as the Migration Protection Protocols. Mexican authorities dismissed the group from Nuevo Laredo’s immigration office without any transportation or assistance.
“Where do we go?” said José Luis Romero, 31, who had fled Venezuela with his wife and two sons, ages 6 and 8. “We gave away our mattresses.”
The family had waited for three months in Nuevo Laredo before U.S. officials called for them Monday morning and took them across the border to Laredo, Tex. Romero was separated from his wife and children, and immigration officials interviewed the couple separately. The two explained how they had protested Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in the city of Maracaibo and how security forces had later raided their home.
Arming the Cartels: The Inside Story of a Texas Gun-Smuggling Ring
Selling weapons south of the border is big business — and America’s loose gun laws are also devastating for Mexico
A FEW YEARS AGO, a retired police officer named Mike Fox found himself badly in need of money. The Vietnam veteran, overweight and ailing, was nearly 70 years old, and his wife, Diane, wasn’t much younger, but they had recently taken custody of their grandsons, a pair of rambunctious two-year-old twins. “We found out our daughter was a heroin addict,” Fox says in a tired, raspy voice. He’s seated at his kitchen table in Georgetown, Texas, a middle-class suburb of Austin, holding a mug of coffee in both hands. The end of one finger is missing from a lawn-mower accident. “We had no idea heroin was so bad,” he says. “I’d been a cop, and I couldn’t even spot it in my own kid.” Their adult son had also fallen victim to heroin, and would later commit suicide. “I had cancer on top of that,” Fox says. “Malignant melanoma.” All of this happened after he had to take his only living relative, a sister in Louisiana, off life support. “It was like a soap opera,” says Diane, her eyes filled with tears. The legal and medical bills, plus the expense of raising two toddlers, quickly depleted their savings, which led Fox to look into a certain side business.
Fox had been a licensed gun dealer since 2007, and had acquired additional federal licenses to manufacture ammunition and possess machine guns. To qualify for the permits, he had to have a physical storefront, but his was just a rented metal warehouse that he hardly ever used. He made most of his money manufacturing ammunition in his garage and selling it to people he met online or through word of mouth. The ammo business was especially profitable in Texas during the Obama presidency, he says: “Hoarding is a thing.”
One of his clients was Tyler Carlson, a 26-year-old solo operator who seemed to make a living buying and selling guns and ammo on a website called Texas Gun Trader. “He had this route from here to Dallas, and he always dealt in cash,” Fox says. “He was connected out the ass. You never knew what he was going to show up with.” Carlson had already bought tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition and eight .50-caliber sniper rifles from Fox when he approached him in the summer of 2015 with the idea of building a military weapon known as a minigun.
Despite the diminutive name, a minigun is a heavy, six-barreled rotary cannon that can fire up to a hundred bullets per second. “If there was ever a most dangerous weapon put on the face of the Earth, it’s a 134,” Fox says, meaning an M-134, the U.S. military’s nomenclature for the weapon. It’s powered by a motor that runs off an external power supply, and is typically found mounted on attack helicopters and fixed-wing gunships, where it’s used to support ground troops in combat. With a minigun, a door gunner can saturate an enemy position with bullets in a matter of seconds, or mow down a squad of soldiers with a single push of the trigger.
The M-134 is a descendant of the Gatling gun, and is legally classified as a machine gun. Unlike assault rifles, which are perfectly legal, machine guns are banned for civilian ownership without a federal license, like the one Fox held. Miniguns are exclusively manufactured by a pair of defense contractors located six blocks from each other in Scottsdale, Arizona. Their primary buyer is the Pentagon, but under State Department supervision, they also export to a number of foreign customers, including the government of Mexico.
Dallas Morning News
Americans in Mexico watch uneasily as anti-Mexican rhetoric shows its face in the U.S.
AJIJIC, Mexico - In this haven for foreigners tucked neatly in a placid, lakeside community with cobblestone streets and surrounded by striking green hills that seem to touch the sky, a billboard welcomes visitors with words that read: “Where Joy is a habit.”
But the Aug. 3 shooting deaths of 22 people, mostly Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, hundreds of miles away in El Paso and the simmering racial hatred that fueled that massacre may be threatening to burst that well-ordered bubble for Americans here, many say.
“Here in Mexico a cough [from the U.S.] causes pneumonia,” said Allan MacGregor, 80, a retiree from Massachusetts, reflecting on the consequences of what he calls hate rhetoric and a smoldering cultural war emanating from the U.S. “That’s not good, especially as Mexico is enduring the aging American invasion.”
These days, aging baby boomers like MacGregor and his wife, Barbara Hildt, find themselves navigating the politics of hate after an alleged white supremacist drove 10 hours from North Texas to hunt down Mexicans at a Walmart in El Paso. The shooting spree in El Paso shattered a sense of peace, a feeling shared by American expats living here. Its ripple effects continue.
A common worry among residents here is whether President Donald Trump’s virulent xenophobic, anti-immigrant rhetoric, reflected in the shooter’s manifesto, will reawaken Mexico’s own rabid nationalism that still simmers below the surface.
“The root of the problem in the United States is hate,” said Hildt, 73, a former five-term state legislator from Massachusetts, a peace activist and civic volunteer here in Ajijic. “Hate knows no borders and that’s unsettling for everyone, though Mexicans are a very generous and kindhearted people."
Silicon Valley Is Going to Mexico ... for Talent
Maria Fernanda Lopez had a paying job lined up even before she graduated in computer systems engineering from Mexico’s prestigious private Tec de Monterrey in Guadalajara — a city broadly considered the country’s Silicon Valley — two months ago. Then she applied for another one and got it. “The salary and the amount of benefits that I have right now … I mean, it’s insane,” she says. Nearly all of her fellow students in a class of 23 already have jobs.
They’re riding a boom that could fundamentally transform Mexico’s economic relationship with the U.S. across their contentious border. For decades, American outsourcing south of the border has evoked images of factory assembly lines where agile, working-class hands put together electrical appliances or cars. Now, a whole different sector of businesses — tech companies from Silicon Valley and other American cities — are moving engineering and other technical operations to Mexico in search of intellectual talent. That, in turn, is feeding Mexico’s own startup industry and ecosystem, and changing the working culture of companies on both sides of the border.
In the first half of this year, Startup GDL — a nonprofit dedicated to building Guadalajara’s tech industry — engaged with 25 fast-growing U.S.-based tech companies interested in setting up their engineering operations in the city. That number was 11 for the whole of 2018. Bismarck Lepe, the Stanford-educated president and chief executive of Wizeline, a global product development company that moved to Mexico in 2015, says more than 100 American companies have opened offices in Mexico over the past 12 months. Among them is Amazon, which set up a research and programming facility in Mexico last year. ...
Both big firms and startups that are moving south are citing a vibrant talent pool they’re increasingly struggling to find at home: affordable engineers, designers, programmers and other specialists. Worries that the Trump administration’s restrictive immigration policies could further shrink the supply of tech talent are also driving this move south. And Mexico’s proximity to Silicon Valley makes it a lucrative competitor to other tech outsourcing destinations such as India.
Mexico uncovers 3,000 secret graves hiding bodies of drug war victims
More than 3,000 secret graves containing victims of Mexico’s raging drug wars have been found across the country, according to the first ever official tally of the phenomenon.
A total of 4,874 bodies were found at 3,025 sites, and many of the victims have yet to be identified, said Karla Quintana, the head of the National Search Committee, which was set up last year to help desperate families find relatives who have gone missing.
“This is the data of horror,” she said at a press conference on Friday. “This is not about the numbers. This is about the thousands of people who are looking for the relatives and the thousands not in their homes.”
Disappearances have become common amid the extreme violence triggered by a counterproductive military offensive against organized criminal groups originally launched in 2006.
More than 200,000 people have died since then, with the number of missing estimated at 40,000 – though the data is notoriously sketchy because of the reluctance of successive governments to recognize the gravity of the problem.
This has also left desperate relatives to spearhead search efforts, even setting off with picks and spades to comb scrub-covered mountains for signs of hidden graves.
Mexico's president defends security strategy following massacre of police officers
López Obrador said previous administrations allowed violence to grow and has criticized previous army-led approaches to battling crime.
MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador defended his security strategy on Tuesday and blamed past administrations for chronic violence, a day after at least 13 police were killed in an ambush by suspected cartel gunmen.
López Obrador told a news conference the ambush in the western state of Michoacán was "very regrettable" but reiterated that his commitment to increased spending on security and tackling the root causes of violence would eventually pay dividends.
"I'm optimistic we'll secure peace ... we're completely dedicated to this issue, but (past governments) allowed it to grow. There's a new security model now," Lopez Obrador said, describing the site of the ambush as a "violent area."
The leftist leader has sharply criticized past efforts that pursued an army-led approach to battling crime.
But after a record number of homicides in Mexico in 2018, they are on track to go even higher this year, putting López Obrador under increasing pressure to stop massacres like Monday's ambush in the violent western state of Michoacán.
Did jailing ‘El Chapo’ matter? In seizing a city, the Sinaloa cartel shows it’s still strong
MEXICO CITY —
The cartel gunmen who seized control of the Mexican city of Culiacan on Thursday made two things clear: The Sinaloa cartel is stronger than ever, and bringing peace to Mexico is going to take more than bringing down one man.
It was just months ago that American officials were celebrating the conviction of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman on trafficking and murder charges as a crucial turning point in the war on drugs and Mexican organized crime.
“The impact ... cannot be overstated,” U.S. Atty. Ariana Fajardo Orshan said in July after the notorious Sinaloa leader was sentenced in a New York court to life in prison.
But Guzman’s capture hasn’t weakened the Sinaloa cartel, which continues to send millions of dollars of drugs to the United States each month, and which on Thursday artfully out-muscled Mexican federal forces to take control of one of the country’s largest cities.
Cartel fighters converged on the northern city of Culiacan by the hundreds Thursday afternoon after 30 Mexican soldiers and National Guard members captured Guzman’s 28-year-old son, Ovidio Guzman Lopez, who has taken on a leadership role since his father’s arrest.
Fighters surrounded the house where the younger Guzman was being held, taking eight Mexican security officers hostage. They simultaneously laid siege to other parts of the city of 1 million people, attacking the state prosecutor’s office and blocking roads into town with burning vehicles.
After four hours, Mexican authorities gave up. They freed Guzman and retreated, a decision made “with the goal of safeguarding the well-being and tranquility of Culiacan,” according to Mexican Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo.
López Obrador and Mexico’s military in rare public spat after ‘El Chapo’s’ son is freed
MEXICO CITY — A retired Mexican general has openly criticized the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador after the botched attempt to arrest the son of El Chapo — a rare challenge that’s raising concerns about growing discontent in the military.
Gen. Carlos Gaytán blasted the president just days after cartel gunmen swarmed the city of Culiacan to block the arrest of the son of imprisoned former Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. Military forces had detained 28-year-old Ovidio Guzmán López but then released him on orders from political leaders who feared a massacre.
The operation has turned into one of the biggest crises for López Obrador since he took office in December.
“We are worried about today’s Mexico,” Gaytán said in a speech on behalf of retired officers at the Defense Ministry. “We feel aggrieved as Mexicans and offended as soldiers.” The transcript was leaked last week to the newspaper La Jornada — an unusual development, given the armed forces’ traditional secrecy. ...
The lack of opposition “has permitted a strengthening of the executive, which has made strategic decisions that haven’t convinced everyone, to put it mildly,” Gaytán said. “Each of us here was formed with solid ethical values, which clash with the way in which the country is being run these days.”
He didn’t mention the Culiacan operation. But the speech was arranged to respond to the failed mission, and reflected the military’s concern about a lack of government strategy for reducing violence, Oliva Posada said.
Ricardo Márquez, a former senior security official, said military officials in the past have sometimes expressed political concerns — “but never like this, with such firmness and clarity and in such a delicate moment.”
López Obrador has promised to address violence through social programs, a policy he dubbed “abrazos, no balazos” — hugs, not bullets. But homicides are up more than 3 percent since he took office.
9 Members of Mormon Family in Mexico Are Killed in Ambush
Six children were among the victims in a massacre attributed to organized crime, relatives said. Other children were rescued, some of whom hid along a roadside.
By Azam Ahmed, Elisabeth Malkin and Daniel Victor
Nov. 5, 2019 Updated 1:35 p.m. ET
MEXICO CITY — At least three women and six children in a prominent local Mormon family were killed on Monday when their vehicles were ambushed in northern Mexico by gunmen believed to be members of organized crime, family members said. The attack alarmed a nation already reeling from record violence this year.
Members of the LeBarón family, dual Mexican and American citizens who have lived in a fundamentalist Mormon community in the border region for decades, were traveling in three separate vehicles when the gunmen attacked, several family members said. They described a terrifying scene in which one child was gunned down while running away, while others were trapped inside a burning car.
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/05/worl ... ttack.html
Adding:Politico: Trump offers Mexico help waging war on drug cartels after murder of U.S. citizens
At least nine members of a prominent Mormon family were killed in what the victims’ relatives called a “massacre” by drug cartels.
The Hill: Mexican president rebuffs Trump's offer to 'wage war' on cartels
This a WaPo archive article from October 14, 1989 about this LeBaron sect; a bit hard to read in the formatting, but definitely worth reading for historical background.
Adding: H/T TexasFillyMexico Mormon attack: A suspect has been arrested in the massacre of family ...
The Ministerial Agency for Criminal Investigations (AMIC) said it has detained an individual who was holding two bound and gagged hostages in the hills of Agua Prieta in the state of Sonora.
The suspect had several rifles and a large amount of ammunition, including a number of large-caliber weapons, the agency said in a statement posted to its official Facebook page.
The arrest comes just a day after women and children were brutally attacked by criminal groups while driving near the US-Mexico border, Mexican authorities said. The victims appear to be a fundamentalist sect separate from the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Three women, four small children and two infants -- all dual US-Mexican citizens -- were killed in their vehicles Monday, according to family member Alex LeBaron. The victims and eight surviving children were ambushed by criminal groups Monday evening while traveling between the states of Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexican authorities said.
The Attorney-General for the neighboring state of Chihuahua, Cesar Peniche Espejel, confirmed the arrest in an interview with Mexico's Imagen Radio on Tuesday, but could not confirm details of the suspect's involvement. "We are waiting for some more intelligence in order to issue an official statement," he said.
Peniche Espejel said he believes the newly-formed "Los Jaguares" cartel, an off-shoot of the Sinaloa cartel, may be behind the massacre. But earlier Tuesday, a US official said a rival cartel called La Línea is under focus.
This a WaPo archive article from October 14, 1989 about this LeBaron sect; a bit hard to read in the formatting, but definitely worth reading for historical background.