President Calderón and Finance Secretary Ernesto Cordero announced administrative measures that are designed to reduce the burden of complying with Mexico’s tax laws. The steps include: eliminating the monthly declaration of the Single Rate Corporate Tax (IETU) in favor of a single annual declaration; eliminating the annual declaration of Value Added Tax, since the tax payments and declarations are already made monthly; eliminating the requirement for audited financial statements for filings made with Hacienda and the Social Security Institute; enabling taxpayers with credit balances from the Tax on Cash Deposits (IDE) to get refunds without having to present audited financial statements; and extending the validity of electronic signatures for four years from the current two. The President said that these measures and other steps (already implemented and to be implemented) to allow for electronic filing of forms would save companies Ps. 15 billion per year and reduce by 40% the time needed to meet tax obligations, therby putting Mexico at the median of OECD countries. (Hacienda 6/30)
El Pais of Madrid resurrects the ‘failed state’ label in talking about recent events in Mexico. From their editorial entitled ‘The Mexican Cockpit‘ today:
The war against the narcos in Mexico is not only tremendously bloody–more than 25,000 killed in three years — but also a savage spectacle that, because of its nature, sorrowfully wounds the image of the country. … The worst, however, is that this war in which the State has immersed itself is not being won. The intervention of the Army to substitute for a corrupted police force has done nothing except sharpen the violence without producing demonstrable results. If there is no course correction, we will find ourselves facing a tragedy not just for Mexico, but by extension all Latin America. The haunting spectacle of a failed State is something that cannot be allowed in the Spanish-speaking world.
SCT Secretary Juan Molinar announced that his chief of staff, Mony de Swaan will be named by President Calderón to the Cofetel seat left empty by the sudden resignation of Hector Osuna last week. De Swaan came to SCT when Molinar was named Secretary, and had also been Molinar’s deputy when the latter was an IFE counsellor. In her business column, Maricarmen Cortés wrote that President Calderón would likely push for the Commission to vote de Swann into the chairmanship. She also noted that the pros for naming de Swaan were the prospect of greater coordination between the Ministry and Cofetel and the likely abolition of the ‘double window’ whereby telecommunications regulations have to be approved by both the SCT and Cofetel. The cons are his “brief but intense” background in telecommunications issues, and the likely de facto reduction of Cofetel’s autonomy.
A 2007 Supreme Court decision removed the Senate’s power to confirm Cofetel commissioners (on the grounds that the Cofetel is, as a body within the SCT, part of the executive branch and not a true autonomous agency). However, a number of parties have threatened to file suit to block de Swaan’s appointment on the grounds that he does not meet the legal qualifications as “having carried out in a distinguished manner professional, public service, or academic activities substantially related to the telecommunications sector.”
(Universal 6/30, 7/1)
The PRI Tamaulipas state committee proposed Egidio Torre Cantú, the brother of Rodolfo, as its replacement candidate for governor. Egidio served as the substitute mayor of the capital city of Victoria in 2000-01. The PRI national committee needs to ratify the choice, and it is expected that the new candidate will be registered today. Egidio will not have any opportunity to campaign, as the quite period begins today for the vote on July 4th. The pre-election polls show that the PRI had an overwhelming lead in the race for governor. (Reforma 6/30, Universal 6/30)
In the wake of the assassination of Rodolfo Torre Cantú, President Felipe Calderón made his second nationwide address in two days, calling for all political forces to join in a united front to fight what he called ‘the biggest challenge the country faces today.’
Faced with the gravity of the facts implied by the cowardly assassination of Rodolfo Torre Cantú, … I sent a message to the Mexican people, in which I made a call for unity, and for the need to create a common front. … Today I am calling on all the political forces of the country, on all who believe in and defend democracy, to meet to discuss frankly this and the other challenges that Mexico faces; so that we may give a unified and decisive response to those who attack the democratic life and peace of Mexicans. … Faced with the challenge that organized crime today presents, there isn’t space to seek political dividends. … . I invite you to this dialogue. … I am confident that together, through a frank, respectful and constructive dialogue, we will be able to find the best alternatives to confront what is, without doubt, the biggest challenge that the country faces today. (Presidencia 6/29, Reforma 6/29)
In the evening, Beatriz Paredes, the PRI’s president, gave her party’s response, after meeting with all the party’s leaders and governors:
We have always been prepared to dialogue, but with legitimate leaders and not with opportunists that stir up stormy waters to see if they can rebuild their positions; when it has been precisely their irresponsibility and short-sighted desire to win at any cost that has muddied the debate and degraded politics. …. More than declarations, speeches, or debates, Mexicans need a security strategy that is effective, and families want to recover their tranquility. (Reforma 6/29, Universal 6/30)
The assassination of Rodolfo Torre Cantú, the PRI candidate for governor of Tamaulipas, is the country’s most serious political killing since the 1994 death of Luis Donaldo Colosio, the PRI’s presidential candidate.
Today’s NYT story has the basic information as currently known.
Most speculation in Mexico points to the violent struggle between the Gulf Cartel (CDG) and Los Zetas—formerly the armed wing of the CDG, and now their rivals—as the proximate cause of the surge in violence in Tamaulipas this year. The Zetas, in particular, are suspected of being behind the ambush that killed Torre Cantú and four of his campaign staff.
Several items are worth noting:
- Torre Cantú had recently gotten enhanced security. The Ministry of Defense had just assigned him a new head of security, General (ret.) Roberto Miranda, who handled security for then-presidential candidate Ernesto Zedillo after the Colosio assassination. (Universal 6/29)
- In May, the PAN mayoral candidate for the town of Valle Hermoso, José Mario Guajardo Varela was assassinated. Valle Hermosa was where Torre Cantú was heading when his caravan was ambushed.
- In eight of the 43 towns in the state, either the PRD or PAN did not field mayoral candidates, mostly because of intimidation and fears for personal safety.
- In February, the U.S. DEA warned their Mexican counterparts of the growing wave of violence in Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon because of the war between the two groups. (Excelsior 6/29)
As the Mexican team lost 3-1 to Argentina in the World Cup octo-finals in South Africa, Miguel Gómez Mont, the head of the Mexican Tourism Investment Fund (Fonatur) and brother of Government Secretary Fernando Gómez Mont, started harassing and fighting with the wife of one of the Mexican team’s players. The visibly drunk Gómez Mont was removed by the South African police. The incident took place in the boxes reserved for the Mexican Football Federation, for VIPs and friends and families of the players. The Ministry of Tourism issued a statement saying that Gómez Mont had been retired and a new head of Fonatur would be named soon. (Reforma 6/28)
Pemex CEO Juan José Suárez Coppel reportedly testified at a closed hearing in Congress that the Gigante Uno gas well was still closed as a result of lack of security and that the five Pemex workers kidnapped one month ago are still missing. Suárez Coppel denied that the narcos controlled the well. Carlos Morales Gil, the head of Pemex Exploration and Production, said the closure of Gigante Uno cost the company US$160,000 per day. Morales said, “Effectively, in the northern part of Tamaulipas state and in part of northern Nuevo Leon, we have been living with a set of circumstances that make it complicated to operate,” but said that the blockades of installations have not been permanent. (Reforma 6/25)
A note from today’s Templo Mayor column:
ONLY A FEW are in the know about some departures from the U.S. consulate in Monterrey in recent days.
FIRST was the now ex-consul general Bruce Williamson, who was promoted by the State Dept. and transferred to Peru.
THE OTHER had nothing festive about it; the departure was of a consular official who received threatening telephone calls … here in Mexico.
AFTER EVALUATING the messages, security officials in the consulate concluded that they were not dealing with idle boasts but threats that had to be taken seriously.
AS A RESULT the official and his family were evacuated, with only a few hours to pack their belongings and flee the city.
THIS EXPLAINS, so they say, why Washington decided that the new consul for Monterrey who will arrive in September will be a security expert … Who will it be?