Jan 25, 2015

Mexican Drug Cartels Are Using Magnets To Create Unwitting Mules

Business Insider: Drug smugglers are turning "trusted travelers" into unwitting mules by placing containers with powerful magnets under their cars in Mexico and then recovering the illegal cargo far from the view of border authorities in the United States.

One motorist spotted the containers while pumping gas after crossing into Southern California on Jan. 12 and thought it might be a bomb. Read more.

Jan 24, 2015

The 5 Wealthiest People in Mexico

Yahoo: You probably already know that Carlos Slim is the wealthiest person in Mexico, and by a wide margin. However, you likely don’t know the other four people on this list and how they managed to get there. Some of them made wise business decisions. Others were in the right place in the right time. Currently, four of them are suffering declines in their net worth. Why is this happening? And why is one of these moguls seeing their net worth consistently increase? Let’s find out. Read more. 

Mexico looks the other way as contractors fleece oil giant Pemex

Reuters: The state-owned petroleum giant Pemex paid $9 million in 2011 to have an oil rig towed halfway round the world, from the United Arab Emirates to the Gulf of Mexico. When government auditors looked at the contract, they turned up some problems.

The rig had the wrong equipment for the assignment, according to a report by Mexican congressional auditors. And the tow job itself was a fiction: The rig didn’t need to be moved. It was already in the Gulf of Mexico. Read more. 

Huge volcanic explosion in Mexico captured in stunning time-lapse video

Note: A good example of, what they are calling, "pyroclastic flow", super hot gases that go down from an eruption.  This volcano is just south of Guadalajara.

Yahoo News: See video

Jan 23, 2015

Suspected smuggler fatally shot in gunfight near Texas-Mexico border

Reuters: A suspected smuggler in a group allegedly bringing drugs over the border from Mexico was fatally shot on Wednesday in an exchange of gunfire with a U.S. Border Patrol agent near the Texas town of Chapeno, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.

"As agents secured the narcotics load, one agent searching the area for smugglers came under fire," the office said, adding the agent returned fire and struck the suspected smuggler. Read more. 

Harper postpones Three Amigos summit amid chilly relations with U.S. and Mexico

The Globe And Mail: Prime Minister Stephen Harper has postponed the North American leaders’ summit with U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at a time when relations with both leaders are chilly.

The unexpected move allows Mr. Harper to avoid an awkward side-by-side news conference with Mr. Obama at a February summit that all three governments were expecting would be dominated by the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline – now at the top of the political agenda in Washington. Read more. 

Jan 21, 2015

Mexico’s Pena Nieto Bought Home From Government Contractor: WSJ

NOTE: The Wall Street Journal digs up another Peña Nieto conflict of interest case, concerning another residence linked to a favored contractor. This makes four now that are in some way under investigation, including Videgaray's. In Mexico we know that these cases are almost certainly a very small part of the corruption (remember that his mentor, Carlos Salinas de Gotari managed a $1,350 million- pesos discretionary fund and his brother Raúl bought 41 properties as a government employee in his brother's adminisitration. Here is a good summary of the accusations).

I find it interesting that the Wall Street Journal is doing this kind of investigative reporting in Mexico. Several weeks ago I spoke with Rubén Luengas of the excellent Univisión radio show "Hablando Claro" about this. It seems that there is a powerful part of the U.S. international business class that would like to see Peña Nieto out of the way during the implementation of the reforms that he got passed in the country. The WSJ, Bloomberg (below), Forbes and others have been openly picking up the Ayotzinapa movement's calls for Peñá's resignation. That's some strange bedfellows that can't help but make one wonder what is afoot. It's possible that transnational companies are afraid that the traditional and ever more evident corruption of the PRI is bad for business. 

They seem to take the implicit position that corruption is fine when applied to the Mexican people through vote-buying and election-rigging. And it's fine when major companies like Walmart use bribes as a business lubricant. But the possibility that the government will syphon off some of the potential earnings of the long-awaited exploitation of Mexico's natural resource is more than they can handle. 

Bloomberg: Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in 2005 bought a property from a developer whose construction firm went on to win almost $150 million in public works contracts during his time in public office, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Pena Nieto, 48, bought the weekend home in an exclusive golf club in Ixtapan de la Sal, a resort town in the State of Mexico, from Roberto San Roman weeks after taking office, the newspaper reported, citing documents. A company San Roman started then won $107 million in business from the state when Pena Nieto was governor from 2005 to 2011, the Journal said. Read more.