The young administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto – sworn in December 1, 2012 – has surprised with its zealous effort to push forward major reforms right out of the blocks. Many of us viewed the return of the PRI with trepidation, considering the party’s long track record of dirty tricks and monkey business through most of the 20th century, but despite our customary distaste for the PRI we support the spirit of Peña’s reforms. First came a labor reform proposed by previous President Felipe Calderón and enacted in December. Then came the education reform, whisked through Congress and signed into law in February against a backdrop of the sensational jailing of nefarious teachers-union despot Elba Esther Gordillo, about which we gloated uncontrollably here. The big kahuna we are all waiting for is the energy reform, but Peña is working through his battles one by one (so far, mostly with success) and before we get to savor the political theatrics of the energy debate, we will have to resolve the current battle: Telecommunications reform. Read the rest of this entry »
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Right now on Friday, December 21, 2012 it seems like we must be the last people in Mexico City still at our desks, as the sounds of holiday merry-making rise up from the cantinas outside our window in Colonia Condesa. But before we pull down the shades and make a beeline for the punch bowls, we’d just like to make a few comments about the year coming to a close and the new year fast approaching.
We’re not going to dwell on the bad things that happened in Mexico this year, because the mainstream International media, principally in the United States, already covers that beat with ravenous enthusiasm. We will mention a few things though, because this stuff really makes our ass want to dip snuff: Ongoing slaughter and disappearances related to drug trafficking; wholesale corruption making a mockery of society, such as Humberto Moreira’s loan racket in Coahuila and the Wal-Mart bribery scandal; and old fashioned electoral manipulation by the PRI in the run-up to the presidential election, to name a few.
We would like to mention a couple of things though that piqued our interest this year in a more positive way. Read the rest of this entry »
Our colleague Agathe Vigne weighs in on Mexico-France relations
Ever since the foundation of the young nation, France and Mexico have had a turbulent relationship. The history of the French intervention (1861-1867), starting with the imposition by Napoleon III and the later execution of Emperor Maximilien is still present in the memories of Mexican people, who celebrate their country’s victory over France in the battle of Puebla every year on May 5.
More recently, the case of Florence Cassez has been poisoning the relations between France and Mexico. The 38 year old French citizen was arrested in 2005, during a highly publicized police intervention. She was then sentenced to 60 years in jail on charges of kidnapping, participation in organized crime – with the organization Los Zodiacos, led by her boyfriend Israel Vallarta - and illegal possession of firearms. Four witnesses pointed to Florence Cassez as a member of the organization who participated actively in the kidnappings.
Though the case appeared simple at first, irregularities in the process of Cassez’s arrest came to undermine the decision of the Mexican courts. Florence Cassez was detained on the road a day before Mexican police and journalists staged a fake arrest for broadcast on Mexican television. Her consular rights were not respected, and she claims to have been abused and tortured by the police during her interrogatory. Read the rest of this entry »
It may take a village to raise a child, but sometimes it takes a novel idea, some Mexican farmers and a handful of foreigners to raise a village out of subsistence level poverty. Things were pretty bleak in the town of Rancho La Colorada in central Mexico until a group of people came together around a proposed business venture that required some seed capital, a tremendous amount of effort and a bit of luck. Seven years later, that effort is paying off. Read about the innovative Lavender Project in our post for Mexico Today.
In recent years, The Mexican market for fashionable kitchen, tabletop and other products for the home has registered important growth in size and quality. The entry into the market by Wal-Mart in the late 1990s increased the prevalence of foreign products on store shelves in Mexico. Wal-Mart’s aggressive expansion has also driven its top competitors such as Comercial Mexicana, Soriana and Chedraui to step up their game with greater variety and innovation in their product lines, including housewares.
Upscale department store chains such as Palacio de Hierro and Liverpool have long featured departments offering expensive lines of kitchen gadgets, tableware and home décor items in Mexico, as have stores such as Sears and Sanborns. Regional department store chains such as Chapur in the southeast, Dorian’s in the northwest and La Marina in the central west also offer similar product lines. An important new trend is the recent emergence of specialty stores exclusively focused on products for the home.
Read more about how Mexico’s growing middle class is driving new markets for consumer goods in our post for Mexico Today.
About a year ago we noted in this space that we had happily agreed to contribute to the Mexico Today online public relations campaign being organized at that time by Ogilvy Public Relations in New York. The program was intended to provide positive stories about Mexico and Mexicans for dissemination in social media such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook. We readily agreed to participate for two reasons: 1) Our contributions are compensated, albeit modestly; and 2) Most of what we write on Mexico Business Blog provides positive information about Mexico anyway. There is nothing up our sleeve here: Mexico is a great country that is achieving some admirable economic and social advances despite the tremendous challenges we are facing, such as the global economic slowdown and the ravages of drug trafficking on our society. Anyway, the program was put into turnaround for some adjustments in January and we are pleased to announce that it is now re-launching under the guidance of award-winning communications agency Qorvis. We encourage you to visit www.mexicotoday.org for a wide range of stories about the good things happening in Mexico, and we’ll be linking to some of those stories here in the coming weeks. Here are a couple to get you started:
As Mexico City residents slowly returned to work and normal life after the holidays, we discovered we had a garbage problem. Not just the bags of empty liquor bottles by the door; a real problem for the whole city and surrounding State of Mexico. The largest solid waste disposal facility used for city garbage was shut down in December, and suddenly the city’s sanitation department wasn’t sure what to do with the garbage.
The dump in question, called Bordo Poniente, was closed with great fanfare on December 19, 2011 after over 25 years of service. In line with Mayor Marcelo Ebrard’s ongoing effort to implement ecologically friendly public policies, city agencies developed a plan to recycle the site’s estimated 70 million tons of garbage in a number of ways. According to the plan, the city will issue a tender for private companies to compete for a contract under which the winner will partner with government agencies to build a plant to harvest biogas from the decomposing organic waste. Read the rest of this entry »
From what we can determine by our stats tracker and email, most of the people who visit Mexico Business Blog do so because they are looking for information on industrial or economic topics that are relevant to their business. Generally, anyone who somehow ends up here because they love mole or pyramids will be disappointed. But if you’re one of those people, now we have something for you!
We’ve mentioned before how we are serving as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today public relations program. This on-line media campaign includes a Facebook “Social Magazine” where people like us who are keen on Mexico can post stories about this zany but economically significant country. The site is in English, but it doesn’t matter what country you are from, as long as you have something positive you’d like to contribute on the topic. Here’s the official description:
The newly launched Mexico Today Social Magazine on Facebook profiles stories and submissions from leading Mexico bloggers and influencers, including the 24 Mexico Today Ambassadors.
This innovative tactic pushes the envelope of what is possible on Facebook, leveraging community participation from fans to produce a dynamic and evolving, socially-curated online publication. The intent is to create a grassroots movement by allowing submissions from those who are interested in Mexico’s culture, the Mexican economy, Mexico’s environment and more.
Help shape the conversation about today’s Mexico. The Magazine accepts not only short links, but also longer blog posts. Submit your content today to enter a chance to win a $500 gift card.
Did you notice the part about the US$500 gift card? So if by chance you are a Mexico enthusiast and would like to write something positive about Mexico on line, here is a very attractive opportunity to do so. If you were looking for the stuff about regulations for the plastics industry, then I guess we’re talking to ourselves about now, aren’t we?
Go here for details on how to participate in the Mexico Today Social Magazine.
During the past month, we have had a close-up look at one of Mexico’s public hospitals, from the point of view of the end-user. This was not a research project: A close family member suffered a sudden critical health crisis and was rushed to the nearest regional medical center, where he remains in a delicate state. In the process, other family members have spent many hours at the hospital to assist in the patient’s care, discuss his condition with doctors and nurses, provide medical records and file documents, and ask questions through little circular holes in glass windows. Although the experience has been stressful, we feel compelled to report that we have been favorably impressed with the quality of infrastructure and care at the public hospital.
Mexico is served by a mixed health care system, with private hospitals and specialized service providers available to those who can afford it, and a nationwide network of public hospitals and clinics for everyone else. The largest piece of this network is the Mexican Social Security Institute, known as the IMSS. Founded in 1943, the IMSS has grown into a colossal operation, operating some 1,500 clinics, 230 hospitals and 25 medical specialty centers. The agency employs over 370,000 and provides health coverage for over 52 million beneficiaries, according to the National Statistics Institute (INEGI). The IMSS is consistently the target of criticism for a range of deficiencies and in recent years has struggled with rapidly encroaching insolvency. Nonetheless, for millions of Mexicans, and particularly the poor, it remains a lifeline for health care. Read the rest of this entry »
We confess we’re feeling rather sheepish writing a blog post about food, since Mexico Business Blog is supposed to focus on business and trade. But we’ve read so many wonderful posts on Mexican food this past month, what with the fiestas patrias and all, from noted food bloggers like Cristina Potters, Nicholas Gilman, Maura Hernandez, Brad A. Johnson and others, that it reminded us of a long-held source of puzzlement: Why are some of our most bestest favoritest Mexican dishes so rarely – or never – seen or heard about in wider discussions of Mexican cuisine?
It may be that we hold these dishes so dear for the memories associated with them. Perhaps if you fell in love while on Spring Break in Cancun, you think Corona is the world’s greatest beer. OK, bad example. But we insist – these Mexican delicacies are fabulous, they are deeply ingrained in our fondest memories of Mexico, and why the heck do we never hear about them?
1) Espinazo en salsa verde. Back when we were penurious youths (before becoming adults of the same description), shuffling around the streets of La Roma, La Juárez and La Doctores here in Mexico City, espinazo en salsa verde was an absolute staple at the greasy spoons and markets that were the closest thing to a restaurant we could afford. We recall it as a sort of spicy green broth chock-a-block with chunks of stewed pork spine and weedy leaves called verdolagas. OK, it’s way better than it sounds, and I’m heading over to El 96 on the corner of Valladolid and Colima right now to order some. Read the rest of this entry »