Monthly Archives: July 2009

Refinery location still up in air

Both Hidalgo and Guanajuato continue to work furiously to assemble the 700 hectare parcels that are the condition for the award of the new Pemex US$9 billion refinery project—the largest public works project of the Calderón government. Pemex clearly prefers PRI-governed Hidalgo, but has said that the refinery will go to the state that can first deliver the required land. The assembly of the parcels is tied up in the complex legal proceedings for settling land titles of communal (ejido) land, which is under the purview of the Ministry of Agricultural Reform. Secretary Abelardo Escobar Prieto said that to date Hidalgo had registered 554 hectares and Guanajuato 491. (Universal 7/31)

Investigation of Pemex thefts

Seventy agents from the Federal Police and Justice Ministry staged a full day raid on the Pemex office responsible for the physical security of the oil company’s facilities.  All 800 employees of the department were sequestered while agents seized files and computers and carried out interviews as part of an investigation of widespread thefts of everything from crude oil to jet fuel. Pemex officials estimate that thefts of refined products, including tapping pipelines and hijacking tanker trucks, was the equivalent of one-fifth of Pemex’s import requirements. The ‘milking’ of products is estimated to have grown 10% last year, and to have cost the company Ps. 9.3 billion last year. President Calderón blamed the “enormous bloodletting” on organized crime.  (Reforma 7/30, 7/31, Universal 7/31)

President hints at cabinet changes

Speaking in Costa Rica at a meeting of Central American heads of state, President Calderón acknowledged the likelihood of cabinet changes. “Changing circumstances always require adjustments in both strategy and the government team,” he said. “This is the way I’ve acted over the three years and will certainly continue to do so, constantly reviewing strategies and the officials responsible for carrying them out.” (Reforma 7/30)

Thought for the day

Lydia Cacho, “Plan B”:

The true success of the PRI, as has been said, lies in having demonstrated that all the other parties are equal to it. On this argument, Beatriz Paredes has renewed her good humor and the priístas have gotten their second wind by saying to all the others: we are equal in being liars and being corrupt,  but we are the true, the first, and the original [ones] — and that’s why we’re back. (Universal 7/27)

PRI image rebounds

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A BCG Ulíses Beltrán tracking poll showed that opinions about the PRI improved significantly in the wake of the July 5 elections. The share having a “bad” opinion about the party fell to 22%, the lowest since President Calderón took office. Those having a “good” opinion rose to 38%. At the same time, the PRI is clearly viewed as the party that is most

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Click to enlarge

united, while the PRD’s internal disputes have made it the party viewed as most divided. Beltrán notes that the PAN’s leadership contest has not yet achieved a high level of public awareness. (Excelsior 7/27)

Fear and loathing inside the PAN

Only former presidential private secretary César Nava registered to run for PAN party president, after party elders including Santiago Creel and Manuel Espino said they would boycott the internal election. As previously reported, Creel had called for a period of ‘reflection’ on the causes of the PAN’s electoral defeat before rushing to new elect a new leader. According to the Bajo Reserva column: “The discontent among the 360 members of the [PAN’s] National Council is growing, and the group expressing its disagreement with ‘the imposition’ [of Nava] is not being reined in.… That Nava would be on his own and under a cloud is a terrible message for a party that has worked carefully over the decades to be competitive, to show itself as a model of democracy, and to be the best face of the country, argued the opponents of the so-called ‘official candidate.’” The PAN leadership vote will take place on August 8th. (Universal 7/21, 7/27)

Flu cases resurge

A second wave of the A(H1N1) flu has struck southeastern Mexico, affecting Chiapas and Yucatán in particular. The authorities are responding with more nuanced measures than the initial outbreak in April.  Governor Juan Sabines of Chiapas replaced his health minister after it was disclosed that Chiapas, which was largely spared during the initial outbreak, now had the highest number of cases in Mexico. According the federal Ministry of Health, there have been 15,383 confirmed A(H1N1) cases and 140 deaths nationwide. (Reforma 7/22, 7/26)

Hacienda preparing new fiscal reform package

Finance Secretary Agustín Carstens announced that the government will present a new fiscal reform as part of the 2010 budget package. “Yes, we are thinking of the need to increase tax revenues through a tax reform. The specific measures have not yet been determined, and will be presented with the new package [in September],” he said as he announced a new round of modest spending cuts to bridge the gap created by this year’s decline in tax and oil revenues. Carstens said that this year’s gap was mostly being filled by tapping contingency funds, the oil price hedge, and other measures, but that these will not be available next year. (Universal 7/24, Reforma 7/24)

Calderón: ‘distrustful even of his own shadow’

Excelsior published a private May 1996 letter written to a young Felipe Calderón by his political mentor Carlos Castillo Peraza, as Castillo Peraza was passing the leadership of the PAN to Calderón, who at age 33 was becoming the party’s youngest ever president. Castillo Peraza died in 2000, but the authenticity of the letter has not been contested.  Some excerpts:

Your nature, your temperament is to be distrustful, even of your own shadow.…. During our last conversation you used a couple of expressions that preoccupy me. The first was: ‘If I don’t get involved in it, it won’t happen;’ and the second: ‘I have yet to find my alter ego.’  You will never find your ‘other self’ if you revise everything, if you suspect everyone, if you distrust them, if you wind up doing everything yourself.  You will never find all the alter egos that you need as president of the PAN. …And you will drown in your work. You will know everything, but you will not preside. You will keep your people in fear, disciplined, but without enthusiasm or creativity. You will have to involve yourself in everything, because you will not let your subordinates act, and they know that they don’t count, that they will have to wait for you to decide, that you will wind up changing their marching orders, and that you don’t consider them responsible.

Katia d’Artigues writes, “It’s almost like having a peek into an affectionate, private psychoanalysis session, almost like a looking glass that only someone who cares about and/or knows us can provide,” while adding that the President “must feel cornered, perhaps stripped naked.”

Juárez cartel creates own paramilitary squads

According to the organized crime directorate SIEDO, the Juárez cartel led by Vicente Carrillo Fuentes has created its own paramilitary hit squads, recruited from among members of the Army’s elite units.  The ‘Lynxes’ are thought to number at least 80 men, operating in 4 or 5 man cells, and are the cartel’s answer to Los Zetas, the paramilitary wing of the Gulf cartel. The Lynxes are thought to be behind the attempt against Chihuahua governor José Reyes Baeza last February. (Universal 7/20)