Author Topic: Mexico-US matters  (Read 279705 times)

Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: AMLO vs corruption
« Reply #700 on: July 06, 2018, 11:14:58 AM »

    Thanks to a congressional majority, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will become the strongest Mexican president in decades, but questions remain about how he will wield that power.
    Lopez Obrador's big win, as well as the success of his party in Congress, gives him a mandate to tackle corruption, but he will find it easier to stamp out graft at the federal level than among lower-level officials.
    As a politician who has acted pragmatically in the past, Lopez Obrador could abandon a far-reaching campaign against corruption in favor of a targeted anti-graft drive.

Some political regimes bend for decades until they break. After years of pressure building on Mexico's political establishment, an overwhelming presidential and legislative victory by populist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador might be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Voters propelled Lopez Obrador — who was third-time lucky after two unsuccessful attempts to capture the presidency — into the country's highest office with more than half of the national vote and the highest tally for any presidential candidate since 1994. Lopez Obrador's National Regeneration Movement (Morena) also captured a majority in the Senate and lower house, marking the first time any candidate has won both chambers since 1997.

Often referred to simply as "AMLO," the new president clearly enjoys a strong political mandate and extensive powers to pursue an agenda that includes hiking public spending, raising wages and possibly rolling back parts of energy and education reforms. But perhaps the plan that will have the most profound ramifications is his popular — and politically loaded — vow to stamp out corruption in Mexico. Fueled by the fraying of the country's political establishment and intensifying public intolerance toward crime and graft, Lopez Obrador has a strong platform to target well-entrenched political adversaries under a broad, anti-corruption umbrella. The new president, however, could trigger a major upheaval as he strives to tackle misconduct that has infested the public and private sectors. The question now is whether he will turn to political pragmatism once in power — becoming a product of the system he was elected to dismantle — or will use the powerful tools at his disposal to try and upend the country's political order.

The Big Picture

In its Third-Quarter Forecast for 2018, Stratfor noted that Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador stood a good chance of winning Mexico's presidential elections but that his political influence would depend on whether he secures a congressional majority. Not only did Lopez Obrador win the elections on July 1, but his Morena party also secured majorities in both chambers of Mexico's Congress of the Union. The double victory gives him the power to implement much of his agenda, including an anti-corruption drive.

Realities, however, could reduce the scope of that campaign.

The Roots of Political Change

A win by an insurgent politician like Lopez Obrador was nearly three decades in the making. Since the early 1990s, Mexico's once-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has steadily ceded ground to political opponents such as the center-right National Action Party (PAN) and the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Voters soured on PRI as it presided over corruption scandals and an economic crisis in 1994. Other parties gained power at its expense, but by the 2012 election cycle, no single party could secure a congressional majority. Without this fragmentation, it would have been impossible for a single politician heading a brand-new party (as with Lopez Obrador) to stand a realistic chance of attaining power. After suffering consecutive defeats in the 2006 and 2012 presidential elections, Lopez Obrador made a strategic move to break with the PRD and rebrand himself under the newly formed Morena.

A bar chart shows the percentage of votes for Mexican president won by each party as well as the party makeup of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies.

Broad trends clearly enabled the rise of Lopez Obrador, but short-term political trends and events also nudged voters toward his fledgling party. In December 2017, Stratfor wrote, “If Lopez Obrador becomes president in 2018, it will be because he was in the right place at the right time.” During outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto's six-year term, three major trends served to hamper PRI's and PAN's political fortunes. Criminal activity worsened significantly in parts of the country, including the state of Baja California Sur, which had previously experienced less of the extreme violence of Mexican drug-trafficking organizations. Even as the government broke the Sinaloa Federation by arresting its leader, the rapidly expanding Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion grew across the country, resulting in new, bloody turf wars.

Political events to the north also turned Mexicans against their political establishment. By early 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump's moves to alter key trade relationships, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, were in full swing. Voters in Mexico interpreted the Pena Nieto administration's cautious moves in response to Trump's foreign policies as indecision at best and cowardice at worst.

But it was Lopez Obrador's persistent attacks on the excesses of corrupt politicians under Pena Nieto and prior administrations that seemed to resonate the most with the public. Given that nationwide corruption scandals have wracked the country for decades, it is no surprise that the Pena Nieto administration also became embroiled in graft. Allegations of extensive graft, such as when contractors reportedly overcharged the federal government by $2.5 billion during the construction of Mexico City's new airport, provided fodder for Lopez Obrador on the campaign trail and helped turn public opinion against PRI and PAN. Pervasive violent crime, corruption and Pena Nieto's perceived weakness before Washington all contributed to the political establishment's defeat and the election of a politician who billed himself as a political outsider.

Lopez Obrador's persistent attacks on the excesses of corrupt politicians seemed to resonate the most with the public ahead of the elections.

Institutionalizing Corruption in Mexico

There is a reason why a serious anti-corruption movement has never taken root in Mexico's political system before. Since modern Mexico emerged in the wake of the 1910-20 revolution, the country's governments have put a priority on political stability, meaning that addressing political corruption simply paled in importance to victory in elections and the maintenance of stability. After 1920, a series of governments corralled the country's divided politicians into a working coalition of political factions. In so doing, the new governments primarily sought to keep the peace among Mexico's powerful elites and put the nation back on the path toward economic development and internal stability. To achieve this, successive administrations in the 1930s and 1940s incorporated as many potentially destabilizing factions as possible into the ruling party's orbit, resulting in the federal government doling out federal money and benefits to the military, state governors and labor unions, all in the interest of inculcating loyalty to the PRI. Under the strong patronage networks that emerged, politicians and party allies had little incentive to transgress the boundaries of the PRI.

The patronage system held together for nearly five decades, as PRI inevitably emerged victorious in every election. Thanks to the party's strong political networks that were undergirded by state power, a sprinkling of intimidation, and strict control over the federal government's purse strings, the party faced virtually no serious political opposition for much of the 20th century. During the period of unassailable PRI control over Mexican politics, the party never emphasized the fight against corruption. After all, its goal for decades was to create a political machine capable of delivering big wins, not one concerned with the illicit activities happening under its watch.

AMLO Takes on the Establishment

Much of the unease of elites with Lopez Obrador stems from his anti-corruption pledge. Not only does his anti-graft mandate carry broad appeal with the public, but it could also serve as a potent tool to further weaken his opponents in the political establishment. And since a U.S.-backed anti-corruption body in next-door Guatemala has already taken down a president — and with the prospect that such agencies could spread across Central America — the incoming Mexican president has an interest in seizing the initiative to battle corruption at home rather than face the risk that outside forces would team up with civil society groups to galvanize public dissent over graft. The details on how Lopez Obrador will translate a popular campaign promise into policy remain sketchy, but he now has the legislative numbers to create anti-corruption bodies without interference from other parties in Congress. The independence of any such bodies, their enforcement powers and their potential insulation from politics or politicization by the president remain open questions. The prospect of an anti-graft body with teeth is nonetheless a direct threat to the country's political establishment. The PRI and PAN are already in a weak position, and the publicization of more corruption scandals involving them will only harm their standing among potential voters.

In broad terms, there are two paths open to Lopez Obrador. First, he could take a more ideological approach in cutting the political establishment down to size. Such action would please many of his constituents, but endowing an anti-corruption body with broad investigative and enforcement powers to systematically take down political opponents could prove disruptive to Mexico's stability. On the other hand, Lopez Obrador could pursue a more practical approach that could still score the president political points with his base. Such an approach would target corrupt officials primarily at the federal level in Congress and ministries through audits and investigations. Such probes would constitute showy moves that could greatly unnerve investors, but Lopez Obrador would still be operating within the constraints of the system that enabled his rise. For all his anti-establishment rhetoric, Lopez Obrador began his career as a member of PRI and made a name for himself as a PRD official and a mayor of Mexico City before becoming a presidential candidate. Ultimately, Lopez Obrador knows the good, the bad and the ugly intricacies of the system and where he is likely to encounter the heaviest resistance.

AMLO knows the good, the bad and the ugly intricacies of the system and where he is likely to encounter the heaviest resistance in his anti-corruption drive.

The Path Forward

Lopez Obrador will be greatly restricted in attempting to extend the writ of an anti-corruption body down to the local level. Because municipal officials are nestled beneath state officials in the federal system created by PRI, there are multiple avenues for corrupt behavior, some of which the central government in Mexico City cannot detect or easily eliminate. During PRI rule, the president could remove governors more easily or lean on party bosses to influence the behavior of even lower-level officials. But now that governorships across the country are in the hands of different major parties and (largely unreported) corruption has become deeply embedded in thousands of municipalities, combating lower-level graft and theft will pose a great challenge for the federal government. Morena's legislative majorities will allow Lopez Obrador to enact tougher anti-corruption mechanisms to ensnare the egregiously corrupt in Congress and federal ministries, but extending the writ to the states, municipalities and the private sector — all authorities with whom many Mexicans interact on a daily basis — will be far more complicated.

So where will Lopez Obrador go from here? Tackling endemic corruption at a federal level is not only simpler than taking down local officials, but it also offers greater political benefits since it's more visible to the public. Accordingly, Lopez Obrador is likely to allocate investigative resources to such a fight. But as Brazil has learned, measures to combat deeply entrenched corruption can have unexpected consequences, after an investigation into a massive graft network at state-owned energy firm Petroleo Brasileiro worsened the country's economic downturn in 2014 and 2015. In Mexico, an indiscriminate pursuit of corruption would likely have immediate side effects, particularly if such an initiative occurs in tandem with other measures, such as tax hikes or reviews of oil and gas contracts, that will frighten investors. Broader investigations and stricter enforcement mechanisms would also disturb opposition parties, which will harbor worries that the probes will target their members. Investors and the private sector may also interpret heavy anti-corruption efforts as a move to consolidate political power, which risks fomenting economic disruption in the form of capital flight and delayed investments.

Some budgetary and security issues will also influence Lopez Obrador's plans to reduce corruption. Any new mechanism that is actually capable of investigating and punishing illicit enrichment will compete with other funding priorities in the national budget, such as social, infrastructure and security spending. Striving to create a commission with a sizable body of investigators doesn't necessarily have the same near-term political payoff as the funding of new bridges, schools or roads. Other concerns, such as the backlash from drug traffickers whose political allies may find themselves caught up in corruption investigations, or protests and public opinion campaigns driven by officials resisting the probes, could also discourage the creation of new, more powerful anti-corruption institutions.

Though Lopez Obrador swept into office on the back of promises to stamp out corruption in the government, the hard realities of governance may ultimately whittle down his ambitions to a series of targeted investigations through existing institutions. Overall, this approach would be far less disruptive than wide-ranging investigations, while also avoiding the political hullabaloo that would surround Congress' establishment of far stronger investigative bodies. But even if the new president has little choice but to tone down his anti-graft campaign, he will be the strongest Mexican leader in decades. Lopez Obrador boasts the political incentive and wields the tools to ramp up corruption investigations — the only question is whether he ultimately decides that the rewards of taking a dramatically stronger stance against Mexico's endemic corruption is worth the risk.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: AMLO's transistional justice
« Reply #701 on: July 07, 2018, 11:33:29 AM »
Last year, Mexico recorded its highest homicide rate ever, so its next president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, will try a new strategy against the cartels. Dubbed “transitional justice,” the strategy will feature amnesty, leniency and decriminalization, at least according to the incoming interior minister. AMLO, as the president-elect is colloquially known, doesn’t take office until Dec. 1, and he must approve the strategy before submitting it to the public for a referendum. It’s clear that the incoming government will need to make some kind of change, but AMLO will soon discover that Mexico’s problems are not the reflection of bad policy but of much deeper societal issues. How he handles the cartels may become another obstacle to improved U.S.-Mexico relations

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GPF: Truth and Reconciliation in Mexico
« Reply #703 on: August 07, 2018, 02:18:48 PM »
Aug. 6, 2018
By Allison Fedirka


Truth and Reconciliation and Violence in Mexico


The president-elect has a controversial plan to eliminate organized crime. Will it work?


For many Mexicans, insecurity is commonplace. They look at the news and see stories of new vigilante groups, or they learn about the piles of bodies that were the most recent victims of organized crime, or they hear anecdotes of how business was obstructed or suspended because of some unnamed security concern. Now, the media coverage they watch tends to overemphasize these kinds of acts of violence while de-emphasizing the fact that Mexico has a mostly functional government and thriving economy. Still, violent crime, especially associated with the country’s drug cartels, is a serious issue in Mexico. So serious, in fact, that President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s radical proposal to resolve it – which features amnesty and reconciliation rather than confrontation – helped win him the presidency. He will soon begin to execute the plan, but as he does, he needs to bear in mind that virtually every previous plan to eliminate the cartels in the past few decades has failed.

A Spectacular Failure

This stands in stark contrast to the success of the cartels themselves. Their run began in the 1980s, when they went into business with Colombia’s cocaine producers looking for alternate transportation routes to their biggest market, the United States. At the time, Mexican drug trafficking was essentially a monopoly. But things changed in the 1990s. The business was divvied up partly by function and partly by region to inoculate itself from counternarcotics operations. Where some saw safety in numbers, others saw competition, which inevitably and violently ensued. The government, meanwhile, tried to curb cultivation but did not conduct large-scale operations against drug traffickers.

Enter Felipe Calderon, the president from 2006 to 2012, who all but declared war on the cartels. On his first day in office, he enlisted the military to help manage public security, employing a decapitation strategy on the leadership of the biggest groups. Calderon’s successor, Enrique Pena Nieto, mostly pursued the same strategy.
The strategy failed. In fact, it succeeded only in balkanizing and militarizing the larger cartels. The number of large drug trafficking organizations – that is, ones capable of controlling large swaths of territory – jumped from four in 2006 to nine in 2017. (This figure excludes the 45 or so smaller organizations that operate on a local level and whose associations with larger groups may change, depending on their business interests.) The cartels continued to produce, move and profit from their trade. Poppy cultivation, for example, increased 38 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, yielding an additional 111 metric tons. Higher numbers of cocaine-related overdoses and increased levels of coca production in Colombia suggest cocaine use is on the rise in the United States, a market in which Mexican cartels control supply.


 

(click to enlarge)


Homicides, meanwhile, shot up dramatically under Calderon. They dipped slightly from 2011 to 2014 before increasing again. In 2017, Mexico registered 25 homicides per 100,000 people. More alarming than the sheer number is the speed at which the number is increasing. 2017 set a record for registered intentional homicides, and 2018 is on track to be the bloodiest year ever, with a reported 15,973 intentional homicides in the first half of the year alone, according to the National System of Public Security. 2018 has also been notable for its uptick in political assassinations. In the nine months leading up to recent elections, 132 politicians and candidates were killed, according to risk analysis firm Etellekt. (The previous record, set in 2010, was 20.)

Clemency Is Controversial

AMLO, as the president-elect is often called, promised to solve these problems knowing full well the failures of his forebears. And he did so by taking a new approach, articulated in his 10-point Pacification and National Reconciliation Plan for Mexico. Though short on detail, the plan calls for opening public debate on contentious issues and a re-examination of how the law is enforced. Controversially, it proposes amnesty for some offenders, the formation of truth commissions, the use of pardons and penalty reductions, the professionalization and purging of law enforcement entities, the gradual demilitarization of public security, and the possible legalization of drugs beyond medicinal marijuana.

Some of these, especially those that redress problems among law enforcement personnel, are direct responses to public demand. Mexico does not have enough police officers to keep the peace, and the ones it does have are often underqualified. At the beginning of the year, the country had a total of nearly 120,000 officers or 0.8 officers per 1,000 residents, short of the minimum standard of 1.8 officers per 1,000 residents. In some places, there is no functional police force at all. In the places where the police do exist, many officers were not current with their performance evaluations; 66,000 had no evaluation at all. Roughly 24,000 have no initial training. Nearly 80,000 uniformed officers failed to meet the evaluation of basic skills. And this is to say nothing of rampant allegations of criminal collusion and corruption.

Other proposals are not so popular. Take the proposed amnesty law, which will apply only to young people co-opted by organized crime, women forced to mule drugs, and farmers forced to produce drugs. It is not meant to forgive crimes against humanity, torture and forced disappearances. Still, clemency is controversial – just ask anyone in Colombia, whose citizens remain deeply divided over the deal to bring members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia into the political fold – and the government has not yet decided how it will prosecute full-fledged organized crime members.

The legalization of drugs is also contentious. It’s unclear which drugs AMLO’s plan would apply to, and it’s unknown whether the law would focus on consumption, production, sale or any other segment of the business cycle. Drugs are, moreover, just one component of an organization’s portfolio. Legalizing drugs in Mexico may do little to prevent a criminal enterprise from continuing to profit in foreign markets, nor will it prohibit the countless other illicit activities in which it engages. Hence why AMLO means to target their finances. But if he does that, the groups won’t have much of an incentive to participate in his peace plan.

The Greater Good

At this point, AMLO’s primary objective is to open the debate on alternative ways to solve Mexico’s security problems, a goal that invariably touches on sensitive topics. And so, from Aug. 7 to Oct. 24, he will hold public discussions throughout Mexico to identify public needs and hear ideas of how to address them. Participants will include farmers, indigenous groups, academics, business members, religious communities, local authorities, politicians and the military.


 

(click to enlarge)


It will be interesting to see what details, if any, come from the discovery phase of his plan. Many of Mexico’s security problems are structural and so are difficult to solve. Revamping municipal police and gradual demilitarization alone will take at least three and a half years to execute (according to the National System of Public Security) even if everything goes exactly according to plan (which it rarely does). The U.S. has already criticized the plan to legalize drugs, and it could discourage AMLO from making good on the proposal by linking the issue to other issues. And in any case, there is always a chance that the public consultations will backfire.

AMLO may listen to all sides, but ultimately he will be forced to ignore some suggestions – and the groups that made them – for the greater good. And in doing so he will create enemies. With all these potential roadblocks, it’s no wonder a poll by the National Survey of Urban Public Security showed that 35 percent of the population thinks security will be equally bad in the next year while another 33 percent thinks it will get worse. AMLO’s predecessors came to office with grand plans too. His strategy is different, but unless he can secure buy-in from both cartels and civil society, the outcome will be the same.




Crafty_Dog

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Mexico-US NAFTA negotiations
« Reply #704 on: August 11, 2018, 09:07:33 AM »


Mexico and the U.S. are talking rules of origin in NAFTA. Canada is sitting on the sidelines. The U.S. continues to play hardball, having reportedly refused to budge on its calls for 75 percent local content as a baseline, with 40-45 percent of regional content coming from high-wage zones (the U.S. and Canada). Washington is, moreover, now overtly linking the talks with potential tariffs on automobiles and auto parts. The U.S. proposal now includes a measure to exempt existing Mexican auto plants from the tariffs, which would still apply to any new Mexican auto plants. Mexican media indicate that Mexico is willing to be more flexible on rules of origin for automobiles with the U.S. in exchange for leeway in other areas – eliminating the sunset clause and keeping the dispute resolution mechanism, for example. Still, the current proposal is too steep even for Mexico, so bilateral talks on the issue will continue into next week. Meanwhile, Canada remains in direct contact with its counterparts but is staying out of it until its southern neighbors resolve the questions on automobiles. This doesn’t mean Washington has forgotten about Canada – President Donald Trump recently threatened Ottawa over its high tariffs and trade barriers. The current goal is for an agreement in principle by the end of the month. Meeting that goal will require some major concessions over the next couple of weeks.

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Dinesh D'Souza on "Atzlan"
« Reply #705 on: August 15, 2018, 06:27:09 AM »

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Stratfor: Narcowars spill into tourist areas
« Reply #706 on: September 18, 2018, 12:21:34 PM »
Highlights

    An attack carried out by La Union Tepito against a splinter group illustrates the continuing danger posed by the balkanization of cartel groups in Mexico.
    That the attack occurred in a tourist zone shows how cartel figures can drag violence into any part of Mexico.
    The attack was well-orchestrated, which likely reflects the powerful CJNG's support for La Union Tepito.

Editor's Note: This security-focused assessment is one of many such analyses found at Stratfor Threat Lens, a unique protective intelligence product designed with corporate security leaders in mind. Threat Lens enables industry professionals and organizations to anticipate, identify, measure and mitigate emerging threats to people, assets, and intellectual property the world over. Threat Lens is the only unified solution that analyzes and forecasts security risk from a holistic perspective, bringing all the most relevant global insights into a single, interactive threat dashboard.

The party atmosphere surrounding Mexico's Independence Day celebrations in Mexico City's Garibaldi Plaza was shattered Sept. 14 when a group of three gunmen dressed as mariachis opened fire on a group seated at a restaurant. The hail of pistol and rifle fire killed five people and injured another eight. The apparent target of the attack was Jorge Flores Concha "El Tortas," the leader of a criminal organization known as "La U," or "La Fuerza Antiunion," a group that split from the powerful Union Tepito crime network.

A Map of Mexico City's Major Narcomenudistas

Union Tepito assassinated El Tortas' predecessor, Omar Sanchez Oropeza, aka "El Oropeza" or "El Gaznate," on May 5 in a parking garage in the Tlaxpana colony of the Miguel Hidalgo delegation of Mexico City. Union Tepito sometimes uses the name New Generation Cartel of Tepito, illustrating its close connection to the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG). The CJNG is the most aggressively expanding cartel in Mexico and is behind much of the violence that has wracked Mexico in 2018.

A Professional Attack

The attack was well-planned and well-executed, which may be a result of the support Union Tepito has received from the CJNG and its experienced enforcer groups. While it is unclear if El Tortas was at the restaurant at the time of the attack, most of the dead and wounded were associated with him, according to Mexican newspaper El Milenio. This suggests Union Tepito had intelligence on his plans in advance and was able to prepare for the attack.

Using gunmen dressed as mariachis provided good cover for status, allowing the attack team to move into the area with rifles hidden in their instrument cases. After the attack, the shooters escaped on the back of motorcycles operated by drivers staged and waiting for them. The motorcycles likely took the shooters to safety in the maze of nearby Tepito, the group's stronghold. Their hasty exit suggests the attackers feared the Garibaldi Plaza area's heavy police presence, which is not a concern in many parts of Mexico.

An Ongoing Cartel Threat

The conflict between Union Tepito and La U has resulted in a significant increase in homicides in Tepito and adjacent areas of Mexico City so far in 2018. Union Tepito efforts to eradicate La U will continue, and La U can be expected to retaliate against Union Tepito for the attack.

The increased violence has prompted local business and political leaders to request that the Mexican military deploy forces to improve security in parts of the capital. Such a brazen attack will likely result in similar calls, which will make it very difficult for Mexico's incoming administration to fulfill its campaign promise of removing the military from the struggle against Mexico's criminal cartels.

Reports indicate that one of the eight wounded victims was a foreign tourist. This highlights the persistent danger of being in the wrong place at the wrong time in Mexico. It also once again illustrates how cartel leaders can drag violence into any part of Mexico.

In light of these risks, travelers and expatriates in Mexico should practice good situational awareness and pay specific attention to people who might belong to cartels. If a group of such people enters a restaurant or other establishment, it would be prudent to be prepared to respond to a possible incident, and even to leave the location to avoid potential violence.

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Stratfor: AMLO plows ahead
« Reply #707 on: October 16, 2018, 08:33:09 PM »
Mexico: President-Elect Plows Ahead With Plans for an Airport Vote
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The Big Picture

Mexican voters elected Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as president based on his promises to combat government and private sector corruption. True to his word, Lopez Obrador has signaled his intention to take the construction of Mexico City's new airport — a project plagued by corruption allegations — to a public vote. Enforcing the results of a nonbinding referendum, however, would put Lopez Obrador in dubious legal territory and hurt investor confidence in Mexico.
See 2018 Fourth-Quarter Forecast
See The Importance of Mexico
What Happened

On Oct. 16, the legislative heads of Mexico's ruling party, the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), said their party would not financially support a referendum on whether to continue construction of the new Mexico City international airport. The president of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, a Morena ally, said the referendum lacked legal validity and that he would ask the Supreme Court to invalidate it if President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attempts to enforce its results. The referendum, which Lopez Obrador has set for Oct. 25-28, would give voters the options of continuing the project — which has been plagued by allegations of $40 million in corruption-related cost overruns — canceling its construction in favor of expanding the existing Mexico City and Toluca airports or building new runways at the Santa Lucia military airbase. The government may also try to reduce costs for some parts of the airport project even if voters choose to continue with its construction.
Why It Matters

The referendum provides a test as to how far Lopez Obrador wishes to stray from normal institutional channels to enforce his populist campaign promises. After all, Lopez Obrador made decisive action against corruption and increased popular participation in referendums — including a vote on the controversial airport — a key part of his political platform on the campaign trail. According to Mexican law, however, Lopez Obrador cannot hold a binding vote on the facility's continued construction as no legal basis exists for such votes on public works projects like airports or for such referendums outside of an election.

The referendum, however, is significant because Lopez Obrador could try to turn a nonbinding, haphazard vote into policy. No federal electoral authority will count the votes, while it's unclear what private or nongovernmental entity will actually conduct the referendum. A vote against the airport's continued construction could paint Lopez Obrador into a corner, as he would either try to turn it into policy and alienate allies by entering legally dangerous territory or ignore the result and suffer political backlash from followers who expected him to follow through on a major campaign promise. If Lopez Obrador were to opt for the former, investors could become wary of providing funds for projects that could attract scrutiny from the government, whether because of corruption or local resistance.

But there is another layer of importance to the referendum. Lopez Obrador is progressing down a politically disruptive path by trying to hold a potentially controversial vote haphazardly — seeking a congressional vote to change the constitution to permit such a referendum would have created less instability. In theory, Lopez Obrador has the two-thirds majority in each house of Congress and a majority of the state legislatures needed to alter the Mexican Constitution to eventually allow such referendums to legally proceed. His haste to put the airport issue to a public vote on an unrealistic timeline and without funding support, however, is exposing his lack of votes in Congress for constitutional reform — even from his own allies — meaning Mexico's new president is opting for a course of action that will inject a sizable amount of uncertainty into the country's politics.

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Mexican coverage of the Caravans, protests in El Paso
« Reply #708 on: November 11, 2018, 02:42:40 PM »

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Pravda on the Beach: Backed up and shaken down at the border
« Reply #709 on: November 23, 2018, 05:40:32 AM »

Backed Up and Shaken Down at the Border

U.S. law says immigrants can present themselves to request asylum at border crossings or inside the country after entering illegally. The reality on the ground has become much more complicated, and not just because of the Trump administration’s court battle seeking to deny asylum to those entering illegally. At border crossings in Texas, migrants are being blocked from approaching the U.S. side, forced onto waiting lists overseen by Mexican officials. Many asylum seekers say those Mexican officials have demanded money to let them pass. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is said to be preparing another new policy called “Remain in Mexico,” which would force asylum seekers to stay there unless they can establish a “reasonable fear” of persecution in Mexico.

============================

Asylum seekers blocked at Texas border bridges say Mexican officials are demanding money to let them pass
By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
Nov 22, 2018 | 3:00 AM
| Matamoros, Mexico
Asylum seekers blocked at Texas border bridges say Mexican officials are demanding money to let them pass
Asylum seekers Elvis Gonzalez Rodriguez, 23, left, of Havana and Robert Richard Braganca of Rio de Janeiro, with his toddler son, Mario, wait on the Matamoros and Brownsville International Bridge in Matamoros, Mexico. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Asylum seekers funneled to bridge crossings at the Texas border are being blocked from approaching the U.S. side, forced onto waiting lists overseen by Mexican officials.

The asylum seekers and immigrant-rights advocates say that has put them at risk of extortion, discrimination and deportation, with many telling of Mexican officials demanding money to let them pass and of watching others, further down the list, cross ahead of them.

In Matamoros, a city across from Brownsville, Texas, the list is kept on a clipboard in an opaque blue plastic case on the newer of two border bridges. Though Mexican officials maintain the list, U.S. officers decide how many asylum seekers cross. An individual familiar with the Mexican immigration system who asked not to be identified for safety reasons said U.S. officials choose who crosses based on nationality and other characteristics.

Last week, Mexican immigration officials notified four asylum seekers camped at the foot of the bridge for more than a month that it was their turn to cross. They had been near the top of the waiting list for days but had watched others jump ahead of them. Now they said teary goodbyes to about 20 migrants they had been staying with on cots under tarps.


Mexican officials escorted the four — a pregnant woman, her boyfriend, a mother and her 16-year-old son — to a U.S. customs officers’ station at the center of the covered bridge.

“How many are you, and from what countries?” one of the U.S. officials asked in Spanish.

The migrants identified themselves, and the U.S. officials counted aloud: two Cubans, two Guatemalans. Mexican officials nodded. Then they allowed the four to enter the U.S.

U.S. law says immigrants can present themselves to request asylum at border crossings or inside the country after entering illegally. But as thousands of Central Americans approached the border this month, President Trump announced that those crossing illegally would be denied asylum. This week, a federal judge in San Francisco blocked that asylum ban.

But the judge’s ruling didn’t address the administration’s efforts to stop asylum seekers at southern border bridges. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say they have run out of space to process them at border holding areas, most of which they said house fewer than a hundred people.

The agency has stationed officers at bridge midpoints to prevent asylum seekers from entering the U.S. The migrants must add their names to waiting lists in Mexico, a process U.S. officials call “queue management.”

A list was first used two years ago in Tijuana, prompting immigrant advocates to sue in California federal court, arguing the process illegally blocked asylum seekers. With the lawsuit pending, U.S. immigration officials expanded the system to busy crossings in Arizona and Texas.

As of last week, waiting lists were being used at all major crossings in Texas, said Rick Pauza, a Laredo, Texas-based spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Across the border from El Paso, Mexican officials in Ciudad Juarez cleared 300 migrants from border bridges last week, sent them to shelters and created a waiting list, said Shaw Drake, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. Asylum seekers’ numbers on the list were written in marker on their arms.

“They’re creating the circumstances under which that’s necessary,” said Drake, adding that about 20 of the asylum seekers were being admitted to the U.S. daily from Juarez. “It’s illegal to be turning these people away and making them wait.”

To the east, where Texas’ Rio Grande Valley borders the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, U.S. and Mexican immigration officials launched a joint campaign in September against cartel violence and corruption. But U.S. authorities delegated management of asylum seeker waiting lists to Mexican counterparts. The lists are not made public, and they are not monitored by U.S. officials, Customs and Border Protection said.

In Matamoros last week, officials from Grupos Beta, the humanitarian arm of Mexican immigration services, could be seen using the list to record the names of 80 asylum seekers. Two weeks before, the list contained 165 names, said migrants who saw it. It was unclear how many of those removed from the list had been allowed to cross. Mexican officials refused requests to review it.

Officials at Mexico’s National Institute of Migration office at the city’s new bridge declined to comment, as did the institute’s Grupos Beta Matamoros. Institute officials in Mexico City did not respond to requests for comment, including about extortion allegations.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it “processes undocumented persons as expeditiously as possible,” and denied it was involved in selecting who enters from the lists.

“Nationality has absolutely no bearing on the processing” of asylum seekers, and those on the lists are “processed on a first-come, first-serve basis,” the agency said.

The agency said it “does take into consideration persons with medical emergencies, unaccompanied alien children, the disabled, and gives priority as we can, bearing in mind the day-to-day availability of resources, case complexity, holding space, port volume and enforcement actions.”


Jessica Zamora, an 18-year-old Cuban who is seven months pregnant, was still waiting at the foot of the Matamoros bridge last week, more than 25 days after U.S. officials allowed her mother and 13-year-old brother across. The officials didn’t consider her part of the same family, Zamora said. Two other pregnant women were also waiting to cross.

“We wait here while others pass because we don’t have money,” Zamora said.

Mexican immigration officials in Matamoros said they try to limit the number of asylum seekers waiting at the new bridge to 10, ferrying the rest to a shelter across town, but the number swelled recently as migrants refused to leave, afraid of missing a chance to cross.

An additional 39 asylum seekers waited at the shelter, including some families stuck there for more than a month. Their temporary Mexican visas had expired, and they worried they could be deported.

“There are weeks they don’t call anyone” to cross, said asylum seeker Yoveni Torres, 37. His family left Nicaragua after being persecuted for joining the Catholic resistance to the country’s authoritarian government, he said. He was still waiting this week after a month at the shelter with his wife and three children.

Two dozen migrants from Central America, Cuba, Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, Mexico, Russia and Venezuela camped at the foot of the bridge last week without food, water or medical care beyond occasional visits by the Mexican Red Cross, even as temperatures dipped to freezing.

They said immigration officials had failed to secure the bridges, leaving them vulnerable to extortion. When they complained, Mexican immigration officials threatened to force them to leave, including when they were being interviewed by The Times.

“See how they talk to us? ‘Go’ like dogs,” said Yaneisi Jinarte, a teacher from Cuba.

Jinarte said she complained to U.S. immigration officials. Others said they had tried, but Mexican officials barred them from reaching the bridge’s midpoint.

Two other Cuban asylum seekers said Mexican immigration officials demanded they pay to cross the city’s older bridge this fall. They refused and were still waiting to cross last week.

Their claims were being investigated, according to the Mexican individual who requested anonymity. He said that immigrants are not supposed to cross on the older bridge, where their names are not added to the list, and that U.S. officials should stop allowing them to sneak onto the bridge and cross. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it was up to Mexican officials to manage the flow of asylum seekers at the bridges.

Cuban asylum seeker Elvis Gonzalez Rodriguez said that when he arrived at the old bridge last week, a uniformed Mexican immigration official demanded he pay $1,000 to cross. Gonzalez, 23, refused, and the official made him leave. At the newer bridge, a backpack containing his passport and cash was stolen, he said. He returned to the old bridge and was forced off by Mexican immigration officials three more times.

“There’s a lot of corruption here. It’s the responsibility of Mexican officials to protect immigrants. I want to come the correct, legal way,” the electrician from Havana said as he sat on the old bridge again on Nov. 14, a few feet from two U.S. customs officers.

They need to help us. They need to know about the corruption, how it’s a business to pass here.
Cuban asylum seeker Elvis Gonzalez Rodriguez
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He said the U.S. officials should help asylum seekers and investigate what’s happening a few feet south of them on the bridge.

“They need to help us. They need to know about the corruption, how it’s a business to pass here.”

Another Cuban asylum seeker said a uniformed Mexican immigration official demanded $500 to get her across the old bridge after she arrived at Matamoros airport in mid-October. She said she gave the official her passport and $300 at the airport, then got nervous.

“He didn’t seem trustworthy, so I left,” said Rosa Maria, 50, who asked to be identified by first name because she feared for her safety.

She said Cuban asylum seekers have called her cellphone after crossing the old bridge to say they paid Mexican officials $100 to $300 each to bypass the list.

U.S. volunteers and immigrant advocacy groups alerted Mexican authorities that asylum seekers have been forced to pay to cross the bridge since June.

“They are. I know that’s a fact,” said Michael Seifert, an ACLU border advocacy strategist in Brownsville. “It’s only gotten worse. It’s gotten more expensive. The Cubans are targeted because they have money.”

He said African immigrants are forced to wait weeks because “they don’t speak enough Spanish to understand the bribe.”

For many waiting in Tijuana, a mysterious notebook is the key to seeking asylum
Jul 05, 2018 | 4:10 AM

Asylum seekers from Cameroon said Mexican officials in Matamoros turned them away this month and told them the U.S. was not accepting more Africans. Michael Randy said he asked U.S. customs officers at the bridge, who rejected the claim and assured him African asylum seekers were still being accepted. Mexican officials are investigating, according to the individual who requested anonymity.

Randy, 30, said he fled Cameroon after police fatally shot his younger brother, raped his wife in front of him and then burned the home they shared with their 2- and 3-year-old daughters. He hasn’t heard from his family since. Randy said he was imprisoned and tortured for 77 days, then fled the country.

In Matamoros, he said Mexican officials forced him off the old bridge, but not Cuban asylum seekers who were behind him on the list at the new bridge but managed to cross the old bridge before him. “That shows there is something wrong,” he said.

Another Cameroon migrant suffered a tropical disease that can cause blindness but had to wait a month before U.S. volunteers interceded last week; he was then allowed to cross and receive treatment at a hospital.

“It’s not fair,” Randy said Nov. 12 as he stood at the new bridge eating a donated chicken dinner, wondering when he would cross. “I could stay for a month — there’s no certain time.”

Cuban asylum seeker Leonardo Mederos, 30, said he paid a smuggler $4,000 to get him to a border bridge to the west in Reynosa, a Gulf cartel stronghold, where the smuggler assured him he would be able to cross and join relatives in Miami.

“He told me if I paid, nothing would happen,” Mederos said at the Brownsville bus station last week. Mederos crossed Sept. 28 and was released from immigration detention this week with a notice to appear in immigration court.

Christina Patiño Houle of the nonprofit Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network said Mexican officials at times close the bridges with gates, shutting migrants out.

“These are incredibly dangerous areas where these individuals are waiting for days and weeks to enter the bridge. We sometimes have pregnant women, women with toddlers, who are sent back into territories that are managed openly by cartels,” she said. “It just does not reflect a genuine effort to allow people to come to the United States and seek asylum.”

In response to questions about whether Mexican officials were charging asylum seekers to cross bridges and turning African asylum seekers away, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said: “Mexico is a sovereign nation, and our authorities do not cross international boundaries. Actions of Mexican officials, or people in Mexico, should be addressed to the government of Mexico including any actions taken on the Mexican side of bridges and in the border cities of Mexico.”
« Last Edit: November 23, 2018, 05:45:29 AM by Crafty_Dog »

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POTB: Trump Plan would force Asylum Seekers to wait in Mexico
« Reply #710 on: November 23, 2018, 05:48:49 AM »
Trump plan would force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico as cases are processed, a major break with current policy
By Nick Miroff , Joshua Partlow  and Josh Dawsey
| Washington Post |
Nov 22, 2018 | 10:25 AM
| Washington
Trump plan would force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico as cases are processed, a major break with current policy
A Honduran mother stands with her sons at a temporary shelter for members of the migrant caravan Nov. 21 in Tijuana. (Mario Tama / Getty Images)

Central Americans who arrive at U.S. border crossings seeking asylum in the United States will have to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed under sweeping new measures the Trump administration is preparing to implement, according to internal planning documents and three Department of Homeland Security officials familiar with the initiative.

According to Homeland Security memos obtained Wednesday by the Washington Post, Central American asylum seekers who cannot establish a "reasonable fear" of persecution in Mexico will not be allowed to enter the United States and would be turned around at the border.

The plan, called "Remain in Mexico," amounts to a major break with current screening procedures, which generally allow those who establish a fear of return to their home countries to avoid immediate deportation and remain in the United States until they can get a hearing with an immigration judge. Trump despises this system, which he calls "catch and release," and has vowed to end it.

Among the thousands of Central American migrants traveling by caravan across Mexico, many hope to apply for asylum due to threats of gang violence or other persecution in their home countries. They had expected to be able to stay in the United States while their claims move through immigration court. The new rules would disrupt those plans, and the hopes of other Central Americans who seek asylum in the United States each year.

Trump remains furious about the caravan and the legal setbacks his administration has suffered in federal court, demanding hard-line policy ideas from aides. Senior advisor Stephen Miller has pushed to implement the Remain in Mexico plan immediately, though other senior officials have expressed concern about implementing amid sensitive negotiations with the Mexican government, according to two Homeland Security officials and a White House advisor with knowledge of the plan, which was discussed at the White House on Tuesday, people familiar with the matter said.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the administration's new plan, if a migrant does not specifically fear persecution in Mexico, that's where they will stay. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is sending teams of asylum officers from field offices in San Francisco, Washington, and Los Angeles to the ports of entry in the San Diego area to implement the new screening procedures, according to an agency official.


To cross into the United States, asylum seekers would have to meet a relatively higher bar in the screening procedure to establish that their fears of being in Mexico are enough to require immediate admission, the documents say.

"If you are determined to have a reasonable fear of remaining in Mexico, you will be permitted to remain in the United States while you await your hearing before an immigration judge," the asylum officers will now tell those who arrive seeking humanitarian refuge, according to the Homeland Security memos. "If you are not determined to have a reasonable fear of remaining in Mexico, you will remain in Mexico."

Mexican border cities are among the most violent in the country, as drug cartels battle over access to smuggling routes into the United States. In the state of Baja California, which includes Tijuana, the State Department warns that "criminal activity and violence, including homicide, remain a primary concern throughout the state."

The new rules will take effect as soon as Friday, according to two Homeland Security officials familiar with the plans.

Katie Waldman, a Homeland Security spokeswoman, issued a statement late Wednesday saying there were no immediate plans to implement these new measures.

"The president has made clear — every single legal option is on the table to secure our nation and to deal with the flood of illegal immigrants at our borders," the statement says. "DHS is not implementing such a new enforcement program this week. Reporting on policies that do not exist create uncertainty and confusion along our borders and has a negative real world impact. We will ensure — as always — that any new program or policy will comply with humanitarian obligations, uphold our national security and sovereignty, and is implemented with notice to the public and well coordinated with partners."


A Mexican official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that current Mexican immigration law does not allow those seeking asylum in another country to stay in Mexico.

On Dec. 1, a new Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, will be sworn in, and it's also unclear whether his transition team was consulted on the new asylum screening procedures.

The possibility that thousands of U.S.-bound asylum seekers would have to wait in Mexico for months, even years, could produce a significant financial burden for the government there, especially if the migrants remain in camps and shelters on a long-term basis.

There are currently 6,000 migrants in the Tijuana area, many of them camped at a baseball field along the border, seeking to enter the United States. Several thousand more are en route to the city as part of caravan groups, according to Homeland Security estimates.

U.S. border officials have allowed about 60 to 100 asylum seekers to approach the San Ysidro port of entry each day for processing.

Last week BuzzFeed reported that U.S. and Mexican officials were discussing such a plan.

Mexico also appears to be taking a less permissive attitude toward the new migrant caravans now entering the country.

Authorities detained more than 200 people, or nearly all of the latest caravan, who recently crossed Mexico's southern border on their way to the United States. This is at least the fourth large group of migrants to cross into Mexico and attempt to walk to the U.S. border. They were picked up not long after crossing. The vast majority of the migrants were from El Salvador, according to Mexico's National Immigration Institute.

After the first caravan this fall entered Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto's administration offered migrants the chance to live and work in Mexico as long as they stayed in the southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca. Most chose not to accept this deal as they wanted to travel to the United States.

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Stratfor: Rodeo in the Borderlands
« Reply #711 on: November 27, 2018, 11:54:00 AM »
The Cultural Stew of Rodeo in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands
By Thomas M. Hunt


    For centuries, migration across the U.S-Mexican border has been a normal part of life in rural far West Texas.
    The rodeo culture in the region reflects that reality, featuring traditions from both north and south of the Rio Grande.
    The popularity of the sport in both Mexico and Texas makes it an interesting prism through which to view the current issues surrounding the border and immigration.

My family owns a ranchito in the beautiful Davis Mountains of far West Texas. It is my favorite spot on earth. A recent episode of Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown" series on CNN featured Texas' Big Bend region where the Davis Mountains are located. The residents he interviewed, much like myself, cherish both the rugged beauty of the land as well as its rich mixture of Anglo and Mexican cultural traditions. And they universally opposed the push to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border through the sparsely populated region.

In one interview, an eye-patch-wearing cowboy/saloon owner named Ty delivered an astonishing moment of eloquence on this point. "We can't survive without the river," he said, referring to the Rio Grande forming the border. "And we can't survive without the people on that side of the river. And they can't survive without us. And they're our friends, for God's sake. Loyalty is a big thing in Texas, and you ain't gonna build a fence between me and my loyal friends."

President Donald Trump, who has long touted a wall stretching the entire length of the border as a solution to illegal immigration, recently ordered about 5,200 active-duty troops to the border in response to reports that a large caravan of migrants was moving north from Central America. The deployment took place amid the implementation of a larger set of policy proposals centered on immigration. These include a "zero tolerance" policy by law enforcement toward undocumented immigrants and a decision to allow the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy to expire.

Those issues and the wall proposal have put the region at the front of my mind lately. I've been thinking about my annual trips there in August, when I take a few friends out to the ranchito so we can watch the Big Bend Ranch Rodeo held in nearby Alpine. In the amateur competitions at the event, working cowboys representing their home ranches perform tasks designed to replicate the reality of their chosen profession: calf branding, team penning, cattle doctoring, wild-cow milking and ranch bronc riding. The display of everyday skills showcases the athleticism of the wranglers. The ranch hands are very much the real deal — and their abilities are amazing. I competed in a few local youth rodeo events as a child, and I maintain that roping a calf from horseback is perhaps the single most difficult feat in all the world of sports. But my group of friends also goes as scholars interested in larger issues.

Rodeo seems to offer an interesting prism through which to view the types of border questions that Bourdain's episode raised. It serves simultaneously as the official state sport of Texas and as (in a stylized form called charreria) the national sport of Mexico. Rodeo events, moreover, range from the small and the local to commercialized versions that are truly gigantic.

Among the most successful of the latter are the 300 or so competitions put on every year by the Professional Bull Riders (PBR). Although the organization includes competitors from all over the world, its brand identity is very much centered in the United States. "At its core," its website says, "PBR has always been about bringing people together to participate in and enjoy a sport built upon traditional American values. Reflecting on these bedrock principles, PBR looks for ways to promote these values, celebrate real heroes, unite our nation, and inspire the next generation."

In 2008, the organization entered into a partnership with the U.S. Border Patrol, whose agents became "the official federal law enforcement officers of the Professional Bull Riders." Recruiting booths for the agency are now prominently found at PBR events. That tone seems markedly different from the ranch rodeo of which my friends and I are so fond.

The cowboys and vaqueros of the borderlands have a long and deep relationship, after all. My guess is that at least a few of the ranches that send competitors to the Big Bend event employ a hand or two from Mexico. It is also worth pondering as well that charreria are becoming mainstays in a number of rural communities in Texas. This is perhaps emblematic of the demographic transition into a state whose largest population group is projected to soon be Hispanic.

All three flavors of rodeo — the amateur competitions between rural ranch hands, the gatherings of vaqueros practicing the traditions of Mexico and the professionals who perform their sport in concrete arenas before thousands of spectators — reflect the perspectives that can be found in the mixed heritage of the borderlands.

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The "genius " does it again
« Reply #712 on: November 27, 2018, 05:03:58 PM »

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Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #713 on: November 27, 2018, 06:51:07 PM »
Maybe they're doing business together after AMLO takes office?

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From Ed Calderon
« Reply #714 on: November 27, 2018, 06:57:45 PM »
- Very personal message. My wife and kid are now stuck on the border because of this madness. It's very personal now. Get the message out. This is not a peaceful group, they use woman and children as shields, they are pieces of human garbage and deserve nothing. This isn't a sympathy post. This is a warning to anyone that cares to listen.

Anyone painting these people as anything other than a hostile force demanding things that they don't deserve and have broken most laws by getting up here are fools and need to come down to Tijuana and not just interview the hand full of women in the group. Fake fucking news... -

Ed


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GPF: AMLO
« Reply #717 on: November 30, 2018, 04:59:45 AM »
By Allison Fedirka


Mexico’s New President Can’t Avoid Old Problems

Regardless of his objectives, Lopez Obrador will find that he has to govern within certain parameters.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who campaigned as an anti-establishment candidate who would prioritize nationalist concerns above all else, will become the president of Mexico on Saturday. His party, which was founded only in 2014, is the first non-mainstream party to win an election since 1934, when the modern political system was established. And it did so by a considerable margin. Lopez Obrador won 30.1 million votes (53 percent) in July’s election, more than double the number of votes received by the second-place candidate. By August, he had a 64.6 percent approval rating, according to an El Universal survey, though it has slipped since then to 55.6 percent. In line with his populist message, Lopez Obrador has relied heavily on public consent to validate his platform and policies. Last weekend, for example, the incoming government held a referendum on the top ten projects it will focus on – which include everything from infrastructure to pensions and employment. At least 89 percent of voters cast a ballot in favor of each of the projects, though turnout was very low, with less than 1 million people participating in the referendum.

But regardless of what Lopez Obrador hopes to achieve while in office, he will face certain unavoidable constraints once he’s inaugurated – as all political leaders do. Domestically, he will need to satisfy his base, at least to some degree, while balancing the views and wishes of other segments of the population. His most challenging constraints, however, will be in dealing with the United States. The asymmetrical relationship between the two countries will limit Mexico’s ability to ignore Washington’s wishes and chart its own path. This will be most apparent in two issues: trade and immigration. Both are pivotal to Mexico’s national interests and go beyond party politics – which explains why Lopez Obrador has been closely collaborating with the current administration in both areas since July. They’re also inextricably intertwined with Lopez Obrador’s campaign promise to stimulate the country’s economy.

On trade, Lopez Obrador will have a lot of work to do during his first year in office to ensure that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is ratified and implemented in such a way that meets Mexico’s interests. The final draft of the deal was agreed to on Sept. 30, but the U.S., Mexico and Canada are supposed to officially sign the agreement on Nov. 30. (The legislatures of all three countries will then need to ratify it, which could take several months or longer.) The two-month delay was supposed to give each country time to meet certain preconditions – which are not stated in the agreement itself – before all three would officially agree to the treaty. But in some cases, that hasn’t happened. Mexico and Canada said they wanted exemptions from U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs before signing the deal. They didn’t get them, but U.S. companies with operations in Canada and Mexico are still lobbying for the wavers. Another precondition – this one demanded by Democrats in the U.S. Congress – was that Mexico pass a series of labor reforms, which it has so far failed to do. (It has said it will approve these reforms by Jan. 1.)


(click to enlarge)


Once all three countries pass the agreement, implementation will be the next hurdle. One of the biggest constraints on the member governments will be Chapter 32, which restricts their ability to enter into free trade agreements with non-market economies. Members must notify the other signatories before entering trade talks with non-market economies, and a copy of any deal must be provided to them before being signed. The members then have the option to scrap the USMCA and replace it with a bilateral agreement. The target of this provision is clearly China, though both Canada and Mexico claim it doesn’t rule out any future trade agreements with Beijing. The U.S., meanwhile, is locked in a trade war with China for now and is therefore unlikely to sign any new deals with the Chinese anyway. The agreement thus gives all future Mexican leaders, including Lopez Obrador, less room to maneuver. Despite any plans to distance Mexico from the U.S. economically, they can’t risk doing anything that could sever trade ties with the U.S. and put the Mexican economy in danger.

Immigration will be another major concern for Lopez Obrador, who faces different pressures on the issue at home and abroad. The U.S. president has threatened to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border if Mexico doesn’t deport Central American migrants making their way to the United States. A border closure could have devastating impacts on the Mexican economy. The government has thus tried to stop migrants from trying to enter the U.S. illegally by either deporting them or persuading them to stay in Mexico instead. The U.S. has also proposed a “safe third country agreement” with Mexico, which would require asylum seekers to apply for refugee status in the first country of arrival. This would effectively mean that Central American migrants traveling through Mexico could not claim refugee status in the U.S. But the current Mexican government has refused to agree to such a deal and the incoming government has said it doesn’t plan to agree to it either. It would essentially make Mexico’s immigration policy subordinate to the United States and make the Mexican government responsible for the Central American migrants trying to reach the U.S. border. The new government, however, has proposed creating a mini-Marshall Plan along with the U.S. and Canada to help develop Central American economies.

Domestically, the inflow of Central American migrants presents challenges to Lopez Obrador’s promise to improve the standard of living for Mexicans while also bringing down government spending. Public backlash is already building as more and more local and federal resources are allocated to accommodating the migrants instead of providing services for the local population. According to a recent El Universal survey, roughly 70 percent of Mexicans have a negative view of the migrant caravans, with 46 percent believing the migrants could increase crime rates and 27 percent believing they could take jobs away from Mexicans. Mexico’s Labor and Social Welfare Ministry announced that over 200 companies with facilities in Tijuana are offering at least 3,500 jobs to migrants. Mexico’s National Jobs Service portal will also post 45,000 jobs for migrants in the northern border states and 160,000 jobs nationwide. So while Lopez Obrador wants to show that he’s putting Mexico first, his government will still need to devote time and money to dealing with the migrant influx and encouraging economic development in Central America to stem the flow of migrants in the first place.


 
(click to enlarge)


Even beyond trade and immigration, Lopez Obrador will find that he has to govern within certain parameters. The extent to which he can pave a new path for Mexico is limited by his need to satisfy his base, maintain a healthy economy and balance protection of Mexico’s long-term interests against U.S. demands. All these challenges predate Lopez Obrador’s election, so while he may want more freedom of action, his hands will be tied by the same factors that limited flexibility for presidents before him.







Crafty_Dog

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Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #720 on: February 09, 2019, 11:54:59 AM »
What Happened: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is planning to hold a referendum on Feb. 23-24 on the construction of a $628 million power plant in Morelos state, Natural Gas Intel reported Feb. 8. Although construction on the plant is complete, it has not yet started operations. The referendum will only include residents of 32 towns along a 171-kilometer (106-mile) pipeline supplying the plant.

Why It Matters: Holding the referendum would significantly erode investor confidence in Mexico as the plant has already attracted considerable funding and halting the project would be a sign of increasing regulatory risk despite previous assurances.

Background: Lopez Obrador's government has already held informal referendums, including a vote on the construction of a new airport in Mexico City in 2018.

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Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #721 on: February 09, 2019, 01:21:54 PM »
What Happened: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is planning to hold a referendum on Feb. 23-24 on the construction of a $628 million power plant in Morelos state, Natural Gas Intel reported Feb. 8. Although construction on the plant is complete, it has not yet started operations. The referendum will only include residents of 32 towns along a 171-kilometer (106-mile) pipeline supplying the plant.

Why It Matters: Holding the referendum would significantly erode investor confidence in Mexico as the plant has already attracted considerable funding and halting the project would be a sign of increasing regulatory risk despite previous assurances.

Background: Lopez Obrador's government has already held informal referendums, including a vote on the construction of a new airport in Mexico City in 2018.

I would guess they are using some variation of the Delphi method to make the referendum go the way they want.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #722 on: February 09, 2019, 03:57:16 PM »
This is not unknown in Mexico haha Witness the 70+ years of the PRI winning starting in 1926.

But also witness that starting in 1976 they enacted serious structural changes to enable the development of true competing parties. (the PAN, and later the PRD) with the PAN taking the presidency two times.  Then the PRI again, and now some other party (AMLO, who came out of the PRD).

Though on the surface it is modeled on ours, it is something quite different in many ways.  How to govern a country like Mexico?  It is not an easy thing!!! 

This is a deep, subtle system in many ways.

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Stratfor: Murder in Mexico
« Reply #723 on: February 19, 2019, 08:07:49 AM »
Murder in Mexico: What's the Danger to an American Tourist?
Mexican marines patrol the beach of Playacar, near the seaside tourist resort of Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo State, on Feb. 14, 2019.
(DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
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    Mexico broke its record for homicides last year, and the dynamics that are driving that violence are unlikely to abate in the near future.
    At the same time, record numbers of U.S. citizens are either visiting Mexico as tourists or residing in the country, yet the number of Americans murdered in Mexico remains remarkably low.
    Still, violent crime remains a problem in Mexico, and visitors and residents should take measures to mitigate the risk.

With spring break right around the corner, our Threat Lens team is once again in demand, as clients — along with a wide array of friends and family — are all wondering about the safety of a Mexican getaway for some spring sun. Of course, the concern is understandable. As our 2019 Mexico cartel forecast reported, murders in the country hit their highest rate ever last year and, worryingly, there's nothing to suggest that this year will be any different.
The Big Picture

Geography, economics and history have resulted in the United States and Mexico becoming tightly intertwined, with Mexico's manufactured goods benefiting the U.S. market and U.S. tourists helping Mexico's economy. Mexico's proximity to the United States, however, has also spawned powerful and deadly crime south of the Rio Grande — some of which can ensnare Americans.
See The Importance of Mexico

Mexico's climbing murder rate has yet to deter American tourists from visiting their southern neighbor. Last year's U.S. tourist figures are not yet available, but it's safe to assume that the tally will come in higher than the 35 million that visited the country in 2017. The U.S. Department of State has issued warnings advising against travel to five Mexican states: Colima, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Guerrero — the last of which is home to the resort city of Acapulco. Despite this, the resorts of Cancun, Cozumel and Cabo San Lucas are already full of American tourists in 2019, and I expect they will be near capacity over spring break.

Someone recently reached out to me on Twitter, saying they had stopped visiting Mexico after becoming a Stratfor subscriber. Now, that's certainly not our intent in writing on this topic; after all, we prefer to take a "go, but" approach to travel security rather than definitely tell anyone not to go. It's the same story for Mexico, which is a great country to visit with incredible things to see and do. But, like anywhere else, there are risks, many of which can be avoided or mitigated. For the moment, though, let's take a closer look at the confluence of Mexico's growing murder rate and the rising number of American tourists choosing to visit the country. Because, ultimately, the threat may not be as great as feared. 
American Deaths in Mexico

Between June 2017 and June 2018, 238 Americans died in Mexico, amounting to 29 percent of all U.S. citizens who perished overseas during the period, according to the U.S. Department of State. But in terms of homicide, Mexico looms much larger in the figures: Of the 152 who were murdered overseas during the 12 months in question, exactly half died in Mexico. Naturally, however, the question of scale is paramount in interpreting the figures. The 35 million U.S. tourists who visit Mexico dwarf the number of their compatriots (1.5 million) who go to nearby destinations such as Jamaica. And while just six Americans fell victim to homicide in the latter, the murder rate for U.S. citizens is, per capita, higher on the Caribbean island than it is in Mexico.

To put things further into perspective, Chicago has a population of 2.7 million — about the same as the number of Americans that live in Mexico (to say nothing of the 35 million that visited last year). Last year, however, 561 people died in homicides in the Windy City, more than seven times the number of Americans who were murdered in Mexico.
A graph showing the cause of deaths for Americans in Mexico from June 2017 to June 2018.

In the end, the 76 American homicide victims are a drop in the bucket in terms of Mexico's overall total: 33,341. Moreover, a good portion of those murders occurred in border cities in which there are active cartel wars, such as Tijuana, Juarez and Reynosa. In contrast, just four occurred in tourist hotspots like Cancun, La Paz in Baja California Sur and Puerto Penasco in Sonora. Furthermore, many of the Americans murdered in places like Tijuana and Juarez were dual citizens or residents of Mexico who were involved in criminal activity — that isn't intended to minimize their deaths, but merely indicates that such murders have almost no bearing on the American tourists who visit Mexican resorts. And even in states with significant resorts in which the murder rate has increased, such as Quintana Roo (which is home to Cancun), the number of American tourists killed there remains quite small. Violence in Cancun, for example, is quite common — an attack on a bar there on Feb. 16 killed five people — but most of the violence occurs far from the tourist zones along the beach. Ultimately, Mexico's murder rate may have risen to about 27 per 100,000, but its homicide rate is still only about half that of Honduras or El Salvador.
Avoiding the Danger

That notwithstanding, Mexico patently does have a serious problem with violent crime, as evidenced by the many cartels that are fighting each other for control of the country's lucrative drug production areas, trafficking corridors and domestic narcotics sales. And then there are ancillary, violent criminal activities, such as fuel theft, cargo theft, kidnapping and human trafficking. Cartel members also tend to wield military-grade weapons, which they do not hesitate to use on rival gangs or security forces, often resulting in collateral damage.

Violence in Cancun is quite common — an attack on a bar there on Feb. 16 killed five people — but most of the violence occurs far from the tourist zones along the beach.

Because of this, the best way to avoid falling prey to criminal violence is to avoid places in which it is most likely to occur, such as strip bars and seedy clubs in which drug-selling occurs. Moreover, many foreign victims of crime in Mexico were drinking to excess, using drugs or staying out late at night. We recommend that tourists visiting Mexico stay at their hotel or resort grounds after dark and avoid drinking to excess or using drugs. In some of the drinking-related incidents, assailants spiked beverages with incapacitants such as GHB, Rohypnol or fentanyl, so we recommend you not accept drinks from unknown people or leave your drink unattended. What's more, it's a good idea to avoid going onto the beach after dark.

And speaking of the dark, avoid driving at night, even on the highways. That means that if you're flying into Mexico, schedule your flights to arrive during the day and use pre-arranged transportation to get to your hotel or resort, as Mexican taxis, particularly the illegal ones, can sometimes be used for express kidnappings and sexual assaults.

Before you go, minimize what you take with you on your trip, so that you can reduce your losses if you are robbed and lessen your temptation to resist an armed criminal. And if, despite all your precautions, armed robbers do confront you, do as they say, for they will not hesitate to use gratuitous violence if you fail to comply. In the end, your watch or your wallet is simply not worth your life.

As the old adage goes, you're more likely to die or suffer injury in a traffic accident (or fire or other accident) than you are to suffer harm at the hands of a criminal. That's why it's critical to pack a stop-the-bleed kit and other first aid equipment, a good-quality flashlight and smoke hoods, as these items can literally be lifesavers. For the rest of the time, exercise proper situational awareness and common-sense security and you're unlikely to encounter many problems on your trip south.

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Interesting analysis of US-Mexico energy prospects
« Reply #725 on: February 26, 2019, 04:05:41 PM »
 PEMEX is probably one of the most horribly run organizations on the planet. Here's the basic deal. The lighter and sweeter the crude the less equipment you need to refine it. The heavier it is it gets exponentially harder and more complex.

Mexico's entire refinery structure was built around light crude with I think one exception. They have since basically tapped out the easy to get to light crude so most of their refineries are either completely shut down and the ones that are still up and running not one is running over 30% capacity.

That said, almost NO exploration has happened and production of oil has fallen off big time along side a bunch of moth balled refineries. At the same time Mexico has a lot of proven reserves of heavy offshore crude, and if they bring in new technology for the directional drilling they can revamp their oil production to some degree.

The president of Mexico says 'this is like having an orange grove and selling the oranges cheap but then turning around and buying orange juice at an expensive mark up'... All of that disrepair and lack of investment all falls under the PEMEX name.

Now just Texas alone is producing substantial amounts of light crude (the kind Mexico's refineries need to run) while at the same time our refineries (especially along the US Gulf coast) are all built to handle heavy crude.

So basically with a few pipelines or not even that---just some relatively minor tweaks and investment Mexico can produce offshore heavy crudes (with US companies like Exxon) and export that primarily to the US (thus offsetting more and more imports from the Middle East). Texas can then also export the crap out of light crude and help bring those refineries they have back online and running where they should be. As a reference US refineries run on average above 90%. I saw one estimate recently that said in 2019 they will run at 96% capacity.

All of this stuff is very very low hanging fruit and it's beneficial to everyone (almost). About the only ones that won't like it are the people who are (currently) exporting finished products (IE diesel or gasoline) to Mexico.

In the grand scheme of things though bringing our lighter crudes to market even more (there will be a giant wave 2nd half of 2019 and a bigger one in 2020), and bringing Mexico's refining capacity back up to speed and incorporating them into a near seamless industry with the neighbors (IE Texas) will be far more beneficial.

Just that one industry alone is already making people salivate.

One other thing the new President of Mexico wants to do is build a new refinery along the Gulf Coast to supplement their refining capabilities.

Those are the basic plans that the new guy and Trump both want and the energy industry has a real stiffy over it too. We are talking a whole lot of money to be made where it's not 'us vs them'.

Another one of his key things he wants to do is create a massive free trade area for like 40 or 50 miles south of the Rio Grande and have that be incorporated into the US economy as well. It will be sort of like an economic transitional zone from the US to the heartland of Mexico.

No one is objecting and no one is complaining about any of this, except maybe Al Gore or AOC because 'it's oil' and 'greenhouse gas' and 'global warming' or whatever... aside from that he's for sure hell bent on a modernization of PEMEX and the whole oil industry in Mexico for that matter.

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Serious interview
« Reply #727 on: February 28, 2019, 07:21:42 AM »

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Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #728 on: March 04, 2019, 05:13:44 PM »
I'm listening to the interview.  Long, serious, and seriously dark.

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Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #729 on: March 04, 2019, 08:05:52 PM »
I'm listening to the interview.  Long, serious, and seriously dark.

Lots of industrial grade stupid on the topic of guns. Lots of empty-headed platitudes on the cultures of criminality.


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Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #730 on: March 05, 2019, 04:05:43 AM »
I'm only 47 minutes of the over 2 hours into it so far , , ,  What I've heard so far portrays well the depth of the depravity, the violence, and the utter corruption of the political system , , ,


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Cartel Del Noreste
« Reply #735 on: March 22, 2019, 01:49:04 PM »
    The Cartel del Noreste appears poised to launch a push to seize control of Monterrey, Mexico's third-largest metropolitan area and a major regional business hub.
    This could lead to a significant escalation of violence in areas where many companies and organizations have interests, and where many of their employees live.
    Competing extortion demands would also present businesses in the region with a dangerous conundrum.

Editor's Note: This security-focused assessment is one of many such analyses found at Stratfor Threat Lens, a unique protective intelligence product designed with corporate security leaders in mind. Threat Lens enables industry professionals and organizations to anticipate, identify, measure and mitigate emerging threats to people, assets, and intellectual property the world over. Threat Lens is the only unified solution that analyzes and forecasts security risk from a holistic perspective, bringing all the most relevant global insights into a single, interactive threat dashboard.

The Cartel del Noreste (CDN), the remnant of the Los Zetas cartel that controls the lucrative Nuevo Laredo smuggling plaza, has taken actions over the past week suggesting it is preparing a push to seize control of Monterrey, Mexico's third-largest metropolitan area and a major regional business hub. Such an offensive would likely meet resistance from the groups currently in the area and so would involve significant violence — something businesses with interests in the area should prepare for.
The Big Picture

By 2013, the long process of balkanization — or splintering — of Mexico's cartels made analyzing them much more difficult. Indeed, many of the ones we had been tracking, such as the Gulf cartel, had imploded and fragmented into several smaller, often competing factions. From the Gulf cartel emerged the notorious Los Zetas, which also subsequently split into several smaller remnants including the Cartel del Noreste (CDN). That splinter group now appears poised to make a play for control of the major Mexican business center of Monterrey. Were the CDN to proceed, foreign businesses there would feel the heat.
See Security Challenges in Latin America

Over the weekend of March 16-17, a narcomanta — or banner with a message from a drug cartel — was hung in the city of San Pedro Garza Garcia, part of the Monterrey metropolitan area. The banner threatened to kill members of the Gulf cartel and "the people of El Gato" who do not leave the city. El Gato refers to Jose Rodolfo Villarreal Hernandez, a leader of a remnant of the Beltran Leyva Cartel who has established a strong presence in San Pedro Garza Garcia. The banner also threatened "people who pay a fee to El Gato" — meaning that businesses pay him extortion fees, and said that they would use murder to target businesses that do not instead pay extortion fees to the CDN. The banner also claimed that the mayor of San Pedro Garza Garcia, Miguel Bernardo Trevino de Hoyos, was working with the CDN — something the group probably would not broadcast were it true.

In response, a narcomanta attributed to "El Felino," presumably a reference to El Gato, was hung threatening the people allegedly bringing deadly violence to the area. It also said his organization was well-established in the area, and was prepared to take on the intruders.

Competing extortion demands would also present businesses in the region with a dangerous conundrum.

The CDN has also reportedly been busily threatening journalists. The publication Proceso reported March 13 that CDN has threatened at least a dozen journalists in the Monterrey metropolitan area via calls to their personal cellphones. The callers revealed knowledge of personal information about the call recipients, such as where the journalists lived and their families' activities. The threatening callers also reportedly demanded payments to allow the journalists to continue to work. Threatening journalists is not a new activity for the CDN: In December 2018 it threatened the Expreso newspaper in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas state, by leaving a message in front of the paper accompanied by a human head in a cooler.

As we noted in our 2019 annual cartel forecast, the CDN has been locked in a protracted battle for control of Ciudad Victoria with the Zetas Vieja Escuela (Spanish for the "Old School Zetas"). This battle apparently has not drained the CDN's resources such that its leadership thinks it lacks the resources to mount an offensive for control of other areas.

It is quite possible that this apparent CDN activity could be a hoax or just empty bluster. But if the CDN's threats are sincere and it actually attempts to seize control of the wealthy enclave of San Pedro Garza Garcia and the rest of the Monterrey metropolitan area, it could produce a significant escalation of violence in areas where many companies and organizations have interests — and where many of their employees live. Competing extortion demands would also present businesses in the region with a dangerous conundrum.




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Judicial Watch: US govt program facilitates remittances
« Reply #739 on: April 11, 2019, 05:17:55 PM »

   

Most of the $33 Billion in Remittances to Mexico Flow Via U.S. Govt. Banking Program

Though President Trump said he would block money transfers to Mexico to fund a much-needed border wall, Mexicans in the U.S. sent a record $33.48 billion in remittances last year and a big chunk of it flowed through a government program operated by the Federal Reserve.

This means that, amid an onslaught of illegal immigration, the U.S. government is largely responsible for the billions in remittances flowing south of the border from illegal aliens. Figures released by Mexico’s central bank show that 104 million transactions were executed in 2018, nearly six million more than the previous year.

Uncle Sam facilitates the process with a program called “Directo a Mexico” (Direct to Mexico), launched by the Federal Reserve, the government agency that serves as the nation’s central bank, more than a decade ago. President George W. Bush came up with the idea following the 2001 U.S.-Mexico Partnership for Prosperity to provide low-cost banking services to illegal immigrants and facilitate the procedure for those sending money home.

In its first year, 2005, remittances to Mexico topped $20 billion and the Federal Reserve reports “double-digit percentage growth for the past several years.” Remittances are transferred through the Federal Reserve’s own automated clearinghouse linked directly to Mexico’s central bank (Banco de Mexico). The Trump administration should eliminate it because it undermines our nation’s immigration laws and is a potential national security nightmare.

Back in 2006 Judicial Watch investigated the outrageous taxpayer-subsidized initiative and obtained government records that shed light on how it functions. Marketing materials target immigrant workers in the U.S.—regardless of their legal status—as well as banks, credit unions and other financial institutions.

The program is promoted as “the best way to send money home,” offering “more pesos for every dollar.” American financial institutions are charged $0.67 per item to transfer money from the United States to Mexican banks, ensuring a “highly competitive rate.” The Federal Reserve also provides participating U.S. financial institutions with Spanish language promotional materials to “help get your message out.” The marketing materials also include the number of Mexican migrants in the U.S. with no distinction between those here illegally or not. A separate list identifies thousands of Mexican banks receiving “Directo a México” transfers.

When the program was created Federal Reserve officials acknowledged that most of the Mexican nationals who send money back home are illegal immigrants so a Mexican-issued identification is the only requirement to use the government banking service. A colorful brochure promoting “Directo a Mexico” offered to help immigrants who don’t have bank accounts and assured the best foreign exchange rate and low transfer fees.

A frequently asked question section posed this: “If I return to Mexico or am deported, will I lose the money in my bank account?” The answer: “No. The money still belongs to you and can easily be accessed at an ATM in Mexico using your debit card.” In short, the U.S. created this special banking system specifically for illegal aliens and tens of billions of dollars have streamed through it.

As a presidential candidate Trump proposed a plan to get Mexico to fund a border wall by cutting off remittance payments from Mexican migrants in the U.S. In a memo to a mainstream newspaper Trump wrote that Mexican migrants send $24 billion in remittances annually and the estimated cost of a border wall would be between $5 billion and $10 billion.

According to his plan, the U.S. Patriot Act would be amended to block wire transfers from Mexican nationals using companies such as Western Union. Nowhere in the document is the Federal Reserve’s special program, which clearly caters to illegal immigrants. The president is well aware that the overwhelming majority of remittances to Mexico are sent by those living in the U.S. illegally.

In fact, his proposal was to create a rule that “no alien may wire money outside of the United States unless the alien first provides a document establishing his lawful presence in the United States.”  The Federal Reserve’s “Directo a Mexico” has no such requirement as the commander-in-chief completes his first term.


 




« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 06:34:36 PM by Crafty_Dog »

G M

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Re: US govt program facilitates remittances
« Reply #740 on: April 11, 2019, 05:40:35 PM »
This is fcuking unbelievable!  :x



   

Most of the $33 Billion in Remittances to Mexico Flow Via U.S. Govt. Banking Program

Though President Trump said he would block money transfers to Mexico to fund a much-needed border wall, Mexicans in the U.S. sent a record $33.48 billion in remittances last year and a big chunk of it flowed through a government program operated by the Federal Reserve.

This means that, amid an onslaught of illegal immigration, the U.S. government is largely responsible for the billions in remittances flowing south of the border from illegal aliens. Figures released by Mexico’s central bank show that 104 million transactions were executed in 2018, nearly six million more than the previous year.

Uncle Sam facilitates the process with a program called “Directo a Mexico” (Direct to Mexico), launched by the Federal Reserve, the government agency that serves as the nation’s central bank, more than a decade ago. President George W. Bush came up with the idea following the 2001 U.S.-Mexico Partnership for Prosperity to provide low-cost banking services to illegal immigrants and facilitate the procedure for those sending money home.

In its first year, 2005, remittances to Mexico topped $20 billion and the Federal Reserve reports “double-digit percentage growth for the past several years.” Remittances are transferred through the Federal Reserve’s own automated clearinghouse linked directly to Mexico’s central bank (Banco de Mexico). The Trump administration should eliminate it because it undermines our nation’s immigration laws and is a potential national security nightmare.

Back in 2006 Judicial Watch investigated the outrageous taxpayer-subsidized initiative and obtained government records that shed light on how it functions. Marketing materials target immigrant workers in the U.S.—regardless of their legal status—as well as banks, credit unions and other financial institutions.

The program is promoted as “the best way to send money home,” offering “more pesos for every dollar.” American financial institutions are charged $0.67 per item to transfer money from the United States to Mexican banks, ensuring a “highly competitive rate.” The Federal Reserve also provides participating U.S. financial institutions with Spanish language promotional materials to “help get your message out.” The marketing materials also include the number of Mexican migrants in the U.S. with no distinction between those here illegally or not. A separate list identifies thousands of Mexican banks receiving “Directo a México” transfers.

When the program was created Federal Reserve officials acknowledged that most of the Mexican nationals who send money back home are illegal immigrants so a Mexican-issued identification is the only requirement to use the government banking service. A colorful brochure promoting “Directo a Mexico” offered to help immigrants who don’t have bank accounts and assured the best foreign exchange rate and low transfer fees.

A frequently asked question section posed this: “If I return to Mexico or am deported, will I lose the money in my bank account?” The answer: “No. The money still belongs to you and can easily be accessed at an ATM in Mexico using your debit card.” In short, the U.S. created this special banking system specifically for illegal aliens and tens of billions of dollars have streamed through it.

As a presidential candidate Trump proposed a plan to get Mexico to fund a border wall by cutting off remittance payments from Mexican migrants in the U.S. In a memo to a mainstream newspaper Trump wrote that Mexican migrants send $24 billion in remittances annually and the estimated cost of a border wall would be between $5 billion and $10 billion.

According to his plan, the U.S. Patriot Act would be amended to block wire transfers from Mexican nationals using companies such as Western Union. Nowhere in the document is the Federal Reserve’s special program, which clearly caters to illegal immigrants. The president is well aware that the overwhelming majority of remittances to Mexico are sent by those living in the U.S. illegally.

In fact, his proposal was to create a rule that “no alien may wire money outside of the United States unless the alien first provides a document establishing his lawful presence in the United States.”  The Federal Reserve’s “Directo a Mexico” has no such requirement as the commander-in-chief completes his first term.


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Stratfor: Caravans not behind crossing slowdowns
« Reply #744 on: April 22, 2019, 04:01:24 PM »


Why Migrant Caravans Are not Behind the Recent U.S.-Mexico Border Crossing Slowdowns
A Central American migrant caravan on Nov. 11, 2018, passes through the Mexican state of Guanajuato on its way to the United States.

Highlights

    Much has been made of so-called migrant caravans heading toward the U.S.-Mexico border, but they are a relatively small part of a broader problem increasing processing times for legal land border crossings into the United States.
    These slowdowns affect the operations of businesses reliant on cross-border trade.
    While current record levels of immigration will eventually drop off, seemingly intractable staffing challenges at U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the national political fight over the border will continue.

Editor's Note: This security-focused assessment is one of many such analyses found at Stratfor Threat Lens, a unique protective intelligence product designed with corporate security leaders in mind. Threat Lens enables industry professionals and organizations to anticipate, identify, measure and mitigate emerging threats to people, assets and intellectual property the world over. Threat Lens is the only unified solution that analyzes and forecasts security risk from a holistic perspective, bringing all the most relevant global insights into a single, interactive threat dashboard.

About 3,000 migrants from Central America crossed into Mexico from Guatemala via the Rodolfo Robles International Bridge on April 12, joining about 4,000 others already in Mexico's southern state of Chiapas hoping to make it to the United States. Based on the patterns of previous caravans from Central America, the migrants will take an additional three to four weeks to make their way north to the U.S. border, arriving sometime in early May. This timeline could be delayed, however, by an apparent crackdown by the Mexican government: Reuters reported on April 17 that Mexico City has sought to slow the caravans by closing visa offices in southern Mexico and stopping the processing of visas, stranding migrants in camps.

The Big Picture

Staffing shortages, a highly charged atmosphere over immigration and border security, and record-high numbers of would-be illegal border crossers — many of whom are children — have overwhelmed U.S. officials, with so-called migrant caravans a relatively small contributor to the slowdown in border crossings. Consequent delays at official crossing points where U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents process thousands of commercial and personal vehicles every day have caused major problems for legitimate businesses. While current record levels of immigration will eventually drop off, the perennial challenge of securing the border and the national political fight over the issue will persist.

See Crossing Borders

But while some migrants will turn back and some will seek shelter in Mexico, the majority will eventually push on to the U.S. border and will even be joined by others — swelling the size of the caravan. Nongovernmental organizations will help by arranging bus rides, providing meals and leading the group on foot at times. As the caravan moves north, it is likely to break up as groups head toward major crossing points into the United States at Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Piedras Negras.

The caravans are contributing to a surge in illegal border crossings into the United States, which has experienced more illegal crossings from Mexico than it has in 12 years. To boost patrols in overwhelmed sectors, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has reassigned hundreds of agents from high-traffic ports of entry, such as San Diego, and Laredo and El Paso in Texas. This in turn has slowed down the processing of legitimate border traffic.

The recent slowdown in processing times threatens the operations of businesses reliant on trade with Mexico. In El Paso, for example, wait times increased to two to three hours in early April 2019 compared with an average of about one hour in April 2015. At Otay Mesa, California, crossing was taking close to 4.5 hours in early April versus minimal wait times in November 2018. And California's San Ysidro crossing, just a few miles west of Otay Mesa, was shut down by protests and immigrants trying to force their way across. Laredo is also experiencing unusually high wait times of about four hours. No caravans, however, will arrive at the border in April. Moreover, the last time a caravan arrived on the border — when about 1,800 Central Americans reached Piedras Negras in early February — its arrival didn't cause a significant jump in legal border crossing times.
Migrant Caravans, a Small Part of the Overall Problem

While caravans have been drawing a great deal of attention in the national debate over immigration and border security, they are just one of a number of factors that have contributed to the crisis unfolding along the border with Mexico. Immigrants attempting to reach the United States by caravan make up a small percentage of total immigration from Mexico and Central America. The February Piedras Negras caravan, for example, accounted for little more than 2 percent of the 76,535 individuals that CBP agents apprehended that month trying to cross into the United States.

March 2019 in turn saw the highest levels of monthly reported apprehensions (103,492) at the border since April 2007, a 105 percent increase over March 2018. In March 2019, apprehensions were up 516 percent from March 2017, when migration along the border with Mexico was at record lows. From January to March 2019, CBP apprehended more Honduran and Guatemalan family units than in all of 2018 combined. So it is actually the overall increase in illegal immigration that is overwhelming the border, not the caravans themselves.

Seasonal Surges and CBP Staffing Woes

Immigration to the United States from Latin America is currently in the middle of its annual increase as seasonal workers attempt to make their way in. In a historical trend, border apprehensions — an indicator of overall illegal immigration patterns — tend to increase from February through May before dropping in June and July. So with or without caravans, the seasonal pressure on immigration authorities along the border should continue for the next one to two months.

Making it harder for the government to cope with the surge, and thus increasing legal crossing wait times, CBP has simultaneously been struggling with staffing shortages. In late March, CBP ordered the redeployment of 750 agents from El Paso and Laredo; Tucson, Arizona; and San Diego to address the surge along less-patrolled sections of the border. That number could go up to 2,000 agents during April, and CBP could request even more if it deems it necessary — further straining resources at busy ports of entry.

Less personnel means fewer open lanes, delays in processing vehicles and backlogs that compound the wait time — ultimately raising shipping costs for companies and individuals that rely on products from Mexico.

During 2018, similar but smaller redeployments saw shorter delays. CBP moved 100 agents from El Paso to the Arizona and California sectors in November, causing wait times to double to about an hour in El Paso. This reallocation of resources has closely corresponded to the increase in wait times during early April. The agents' absence is forcing ports of entry to limit their operations. For example, Laredo was operating only 10 of 12 commercial lanes on April 12, while Otay Mesa was using only eight of 10. Less personnel means fewer open lanes, delays in processing vehicles and backlogs that increase wait times — ultimately raising shipping costs for companies and individuals that rely on products from Mexico.

The apparent shortage of CBP agents is nothing new. According to a 2017 report from the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General, CBP hasn't hit its hiring goals since 2014. It is also trying to fill 7,000 to 8,000 positions for new agents and officers to secure the border and ensure commerce continues without unreasonable delays. But nothing so far indicates the CBP will overcome its personnel shortages any time soon.

Faced with an influx of immigrants and a shortage of personnel to deal with them, U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has chosen border security over the swift processing of commercial and private traffic from Mexico. While the president didn't go so far as to shut down the border as he threatened in early April, the redeploying of limited human resources away from entry points has still hampered trade.

The importance of border security to Trump, as evidenced by his insistence on a border wall, means the subject will remain a politically intractable issue. And while current record levels of immigration will eventually drop off, relieving some pressure on border security forces, the perennial challenges of an understaffed CBP and the national political fight over the border will continue at least through the next round of U.S. elections in 2020.

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« Last Edit: April 22, 2019, 06:17:49 PM by Crafty_Dog »