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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.
Mexico’s lower house of Congress has approved a labor law reform aimed at ensuring workers can vote for their union representatives and their contracts. The changes are under discussion because they are needed in order to win the approval of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which was negotiated to replace the old NAFTA.
The bill now goes to the Senate and requires secret-ballot union votes and proof of workers’ consent for their own contracts. Mexico’s labor movement has long been stymied, and wages kept low by pro-government unions that sign contracts and organize plants behind workers’ backs.
For decades, unions — many of whose leaders were members of the old ruling party the PRI — were so secretive that employees often didn’t know that a union even existed at their workplace. Pro-company unions would sign labor contracts with companies before they even opened plants in Mexico. After a plant opened, like a new BMW assembly plant, the word would go out that there were jobs, and if you wanted one, you had to accept what your union had “negotiated” for you.
Since President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office on December 1st, there have been dozens of strikes in the northern border city of Matamoros, sparked in part by Lopez Obrador’s decision to double the minimum wage in border areas. That didn’t appease the workers, it just spurred them on to demand more, once they saw realized how easily their pay had been doubled.
So they demanded a $1,700 USD bonus and got it, plus another series of raises. When they quickly got all this, the strikes spread and companies quickly caved in.
These manufacturing plants are in contracts to supply manufacturers in the States, contracts with big, big penalties. The strikes came so quickly there was no time to build up inventories and most manufacturers practice “just in time” inventory control, meaning there is no more than a few days supply north of the border. So, the plants here had to pay.
There are currently about 7,000 vacant jobs along the border, but until these strikes, the plants had no stomach for raises; they had become used to paying the minimum wage of about $5 US per day.
Some say this is why Mexico is letting in all these Central Americans who will inevitably be waiting at the border to cross. The hope is that they will go to work there, depressing the wages with their numbers. But that hasn’t happened because charities have been housing and feeding them, causing them to lose any enthusiasm for working. Most of them sleep all day in the shelters rather than go to work for less than they’re dreaming of earning in the United States.
And that’s our Labor Day message for this year.
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There’s big money in the apology-extraction business today, as compelling a mea culpa can be a prerequisite for demanding reparations.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that Mexico’s socialist president Andrés Manuel López-Obrador recently demanded an apology from Spain for colonial conquest. What is surprising in this age of the cowardly kowtow is Spain’s response:
Its foreign minister essentially told Mexico to pound sand.
As EL PAÍS reported Tuesday, “Mexico’s leftist leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of the National Regeneration Movement, recently sent a letter to the king of Spain, Felipe VI, urging him to acknowledge these abuses (of the conquistadors a half millennia ago) and to ask for forgiveness so there can be full reconciliation between both countries.”
In a release, however, the “Spanish government said it ‘firmly rejects’ the arguments contained in the letter, which was sent to the monarch via the Spanish Foreign Affairs Ministry,” the site continues.
“‘The arrival of Spaniards 500 years ago to present-day Mexican territory cannot be judged in light of contemporary considerations. Our brother nations have always known how to read our common past without anger and with a constructive perspective,” said the Spanish government in its statement.
American Thinker points out that Spain’s socialist ruling party might have had to respond robustly because it’s threatened by the conservatives in an upcoming April 28 election. Nonetheless, robust the response was.
To wit: Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said on Tuesday that he “deeply laments the request by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador” and that, “obviously, Spain is not going to offer such an ‘extemporaneous apology.’”
“Just like we are not going to ask the French Republic to apologize for what Napoleon’s soldiers did when they invaded Spain. Or like the French are not going to ask the Italians to beg forgiveness for Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul,” he added.
Unsurprisingly, the leader of Spain’s conservative PP, Pablo Casado, went even further. Calling Mexico’s demand a “veritable affront,” he unabashedly stated, “I don’t believe in Spain’s black legend. Not in the one that was drafted centuries ago, and not in the one that the complex-ridden left is now trying to draft. We are one of the most important nations in the history of humanity.”
The first thing to wonder when considering Mexico’s demand is, who would apologize to whom? Mexico’s ruling class is largely of Spanish descent (and white), and the nation speaks Spanish and is of Spanish culture. It’s a bit like us demanding an apology from Britain for … what? Helping create us? Would we rather not be?
This brings us to perhaps the best way — the “best defence is a good offence” way — to counteract the apology mongers: The West should demand thanks.
Consider that Spanish explorer and conquistador Hernán Cortés had conquered the Aztec Empire (in what would become Mexico) with 500 of his men — and approximately 100,000 natives from neighboring tribes. Why did they help the strange European aliens?
Because they’d been oppressed and brutalized by the Aztecs for ages.
So, question: Will Aztec-descent Mexicans apologize to almost everyone else?
(Oh, yeah, there’s no percentage in demanding such; they’re not a Mr. Money Bags.)
Note, too, that the Aztecs engaged in human sacrifice on a massive scale, tearing out victims’ still-beating hearts and hanging their body parts in the marketplace. Perhaps the West deserves thanks for ending such practices not just in Mexico, but the world over.
Yet more perspective is needed.
As I wrote in January: In truth, we all had ancestors who once were conquered or colonized. And the European tribes subdued by the Romans surely had many of the same complaints today’s grievance groups do: that their cultures were being trampled, their values eviscerated. Yet should we lament those Roman conquests and demonize Italians?
In reality, we’re all better off for the Romans having spread Christianity, Western civilization, and technology and having built infrastructure throughout Europe (e.g., roads, aqueducts, amphitheaters). We still today use much that they birthed, too, from our calendar to concrete to plumbing to sanitation to fast food to trademarks and beyond.
The Romans, of course, had gotten much from the Greeks and Etruscans. This Western civilization then spread to the rest of Europe; later to the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand; and to a lesser extent elsewhere, influencing and enhancing the whole world.
Thus did a Zambian man I knew once argue that African colonization was good; it’s why a fellow from India I knew despised Mohandas Gandhi (who was phony, but that’s a different issue), condemning the Indian leader for driving experts and expertise from the country. Shocking? These men understand how civilization spreads.
Consider also that when Europeans reached the New World and Africa, the natives were generally living stone-age existences. “Noble savage” suckers may romanticize this, but have no intention of withdrawing into the wilderness to live like the Sentinelese. They love the modern conveniences, luxuries, and prosperity the West birthed far too much. Thanks, anyone?
Moreover, whether it was the dominance of other tribes by the Aztecs, Africa’s Shaka Zulu, North America’s Lakota, Asia’s Attila the Hun, or some other entity, conquest, killing, and subsumption had ever been part of man’s history.
That is until the West finally put an end to it.
In fact, as of late, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion and annexing of Kuwait is evidence it likely would still be occurring today were the West not around to uphold Western standards.
Add to this the West ended slavery (where it could), cannibalism, and all other manner and form of age-old pagan brutality and, well, what can we say?
Whenever there is a road race in Baja, it always begins in Ensenada. The prime area of Blvd Costero (especially at the Riviera, CEARTE and Museo Carocol) is blocked off, and that’s where the aficianados and the participants alike gather in preparation for the Baja 500, Baja 1000 or the newly reinstated SCORE transpeninsular races.
The hotels are booked solid from Rosarito south to Maneadero, the restaurants and bars are crowded with revelers, and traffic in the city becomes a commuter’s nightmare.
The end result is good business for the hospitality industry and an increase in tax revenue for the city.
The weekend beginning Friday, April 26th marked the beginning of the latest in NORRA’s cross-country desert races. By the time this paper hits the stands on Monday, April 29th, the drivers will be on their way from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas, in a very unique race, characterized by diverse classes ranging from antique classics (which may only be outfitted with original equipment – i.e., no special shocks or engine modifications) to balls-to-the-wall fully customized strictly competition jet-fuel guzzling monsters.
The race takes five days to complete. It’s a very expensive prospect. It costs $1,000 to enter. Visitors often bring their families and put them up in hotels. There is a big party at the end of the event that reportedly costs the hosts in excess of $50,000 USD to sponsor. And, of course, the vehicles themselves are expensive, and require maintenance crews, mechanics, spotters, etc.
All in all, it’s like a sailboat race for cars. Y’know, if ya got it, flaunt it.
But I digress. This article is supposed to be about surfing. Who knew that northern Baja (as well as points south) boasts some of the gnarliest surf spots on the west coast?
If you thought surfing was strictly a SoCal, Hawaiian or Australian sport, think again.
Not only does our beloved Baja have some seriously challenging and world-famous surf locales, it also is home to some of the most widely-respected surfboard builders on the planet.
Todos Santos Island, 8 miles east of the Ensenada harbor, accessible by 22-foot pangas or other seaworthy vessels, is flat during much of the year, but becomes a daredevil’s paradise each winter, when swells in excess of 20 feet come roaring in from the Aleutian Islands. Seasoned surfing veterans refer to the breaks at Todos Santos as “Killers.” That’s no joke. The body of one veteran surfer who lost his life attempting to conquer that swell was never found.
Surfers can be seen all along the coast of northern Baja, even at Playa Hermosa, where local surf veteran “Yi-Yo” (Alberto Castro) surfs every morning that swells are high enough to justify suiting up and paddling out.
In fact, there are 2 surf shops right near that beach, one, “Spot Surfo,” on Calle Floresta, between Av Pedro Loyola and Blvd Costero (directly across from the beach camp aptly named “Playa Todos Santos”), and the other, right around the corner on the Blvd, next door to the OXXO. Both shops are owned by the same veteran surfer, whose son is also an enthusiast.
There’s also a dive shop on Calle Macheros, one block off the Avenue: Almar Dive Shop offers equipment for divers and surfers, and also offers certified training for watersports enthusiasts who want to know how to scuba dive.
Not only that, Ensenada boasts some world-renowned surfboard builders, most notably the Arctic Foam Surfboard Factory.
Also, the Orozco Surfboard Factory builds boards for some highly regarded California manufacturers, among them the highly regarded Bessell Surfboards manufacturing enterprise.
The San Miguel Surfboard company is owned by Mario Medel, who prefers the casual living style of Ensenada over the high-stress environment of southern California.
He notes that with his visa, he can go to the U.S. whenever he likes. But he prefers his hometown of Ensenada, where the Gringos come to relax and enjoy the simple life.
Who can blame him?