Mexico

Wild-eyed theory of the week

This just had to be transcripted. From North Carolina Representative Sue Myrick:

Here we are with a pourous border, not really paying attention to who’s coming over, what’s happening with Iran and Hugo Chávez and Venezuela. We know that there are people going to Venezuela, learning Spanish, and then coming up through Mexico with fake documents, trying to cross the border. If they’re stopped they say, I’m Mexican. You know. Or Spanish. The point is, a border agent who really knows the difference in their language can tell that they aren’t Mexican, and so it’s very difficult if those agents aren’t really trained in linguistics to know that. And they get across.

Ah yes, the ol’ learn-Spanish-in-Venezuela-then-pretend-you’re-Mexican-or-Spanish trick. Really a shame the US public education system can’t get the next generation of border guards past the Me gusta el pollo stage.

How long, O Lord, until North Carolina sloughs off into the Atlantic?

Also posted in Human Rights, Politics, Venezuela | Tagged , | 1 Comment

NAFTA and Mexican maize

The Nation has a long, wonky, wonderful article on Mexican maize cultivation, the effects of NAFTA, and the dangers of genetically-modified seeds. Author Peter Canby backs up his excellent writing with piles and piles of meticulous research. Not to be missed. [link, via SM] (Image from Joel Penner.)

Also posted in Arts and Culture, Economy, History, Human Rights, Side notes, Trade | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Money laundering (get it?)

If you read one story today, let it be Michael Smith’s very long and very interesting story in Bloomberg on how Mexican drug traffickers launder money through US banks like Wachovia (now owned by Wells Fargo) and Bank of America.

The piece is long and excellent enough to defy excerpting, but let’s give it a shot:

For years, federal authorities watched as the wife and daughter of Oscar Oropeza, a drug smuggler working for the Matamoros-based Gulf Cartel, deposited stacks of cash at a Bank of America branch on Boca Chica Boulevard in Brownsville, Texas, less than 3 miles from the border.

The Oropeza case gives a new, literal meaning to the term money laundering. Oropeza’s wife, Tina Marie, and daughter Paulina Marie deposited stashes of $20 bills several times a day into Bank of America accounts, Salazar says. Bank employees got to know the Oropezas by the smell of their money.

“I asked the tellers what they were talking about, and they said the money had this sweet smell like Bounce, those sheets you throw into the dryer,” Salazar says. “They told me that when they opened the vault, the smell of Bounce just poured out.”

Yes, they were literally laundering money. I suppose to wash off the cocaine, or something.

The drug traffickers appear to be onto something obvious: In my personal, anecdotal, totally non-peer-reviewed experience, it is a hell of a lot easier to open bank accounts and move money in the United States than in Latin America.

Maybe someday soon, the war on drugs will also make it impossible to open a bank account in the US without presenting a copy of a university diploma.

Also posted in Economy, War on drugs | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Gubernatorial candidate assassinated

Hitmen have assassinated the PRI candidate for governor of Tamaulipas State, Rodolfo Torre Cantú. Torre was gunned down along with six others at about 10:30 this morning on a highway on the way to a campaign event. Drug mafias are assumed to be responsible. [link]

Also posted in Politics, Side notes, War on drugs | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

El Lobo’s ugly weapons collection

Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office has posted on its web site irrefutable evidence that gold-plated AR-15s and diamond-studded pistol grips are not nearly as cool-looking as they sound. The deadly knick-knack collection is said to belong to Valencia Cartel leader El Lobo. [link]

Also posted in Side notes, War on drugs | Leave a comment

Car chase in Mexico


This video of a kidnapping and car chase in Mexico is notable mainly for the bad-assitude of the TV journalists who were on this like white on rice. Well done, gentlemen.

Also posted in Side notes | Tagged | Leave a comment

Mexico creates space agency

Mexico’s congress has passed a bill creating Agencias Especiales de Mexico, the Mexican Space Agency, or AEXA. The agency will be in charge of developing space exploration initiatives, as well as building a space base on the Yucatan Peninsula. [link]

Also posted in Odd, Side notes | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Untethering

Everyone seems to agree that the economies of Latin America are experiencing a nice little recovery. The IMF, for example, just raised its forecasts for the region and is now projecting 4.1% GDP growth for the region, with 4.2% growth for Mexico and 5.5% for Brazil. Oh boy, numbers.

But here’s something interesting.

In an analysis of the region’s sovereign debt prospects (PDF), Fitch Ratings divides the region’s economies into three “camps.” One camp includes countries like Venezuela, Argentina, and Ecuador, whose recovery will be slower than that of the rest of the world for reasons that should surprise no one (high inflation, weak institutions, poor fiscal discipline, if you must know).

In a second camp are countries like Chile, Peru, and Brazil, whose good fiscal discipline, low political risk, and safe investment environments mean their economies will be growing like weeds this year and next.

Then we have the middle camp, which is basically countries that cast their development lot with the United States: Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador. And here’s the interesting part. Fitch projects this group will see only a moderately-paced recovery specifically because they’re tied to the US.

Meanwhile, Fitch says the Chile/Peru/Brazil group is doing particularly well partly because it does more business with China.

So I ask you: At what other point in recent history has easy access and close ties to the US economy been seen as a disadvantage?

(Original image courtesy H. Langos via Wikimedia Commons.)

Also posted in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Economy, El Salvador, Peru, Venezuela | Tagged | Leave a comment

Alamar

Alamar, a Mexican film about a father and son that is supposedly some kind of documentary/feature film hybrid, won best picture at the Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente.


What a pretty-looking movie.

Also posted in Arts and Culture | Tagged , | Leave a comment
  • DAILY LINKS

    • The Nation has a long, wonky, wonderful article on Mexican maize cultivation, the effects of NAFTA, and the dangers of genetically-modified seeds. Author Peter Canby backs up his excellent writing with piles and piles of meticulous research. Not to be missed. [link, via SM] (Image from Joel Penner.)

    • Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas ended his hunger strike yesterday after 134 days. Farinas decided to end his strike after the Cuban government said it would release political prisoners rounded up in the "Black Spring" crackdown of 2003. Get well soon. [link]

    • The Uruguayan selection, which has made it to the quarter finals of the World Cup, just received a shipment of half a ton of fine cuts of beef for the mother of all asados in preparation for a contest against Ghana on Friday: "450 kilos of lomo, 200 of entrecot, 75 of vacío, 75 of colita de cuadril, 150 of ojo de bife and 50 kg of picaña." [link]

    • Hitmen have assassinated the PRI candidate for governor of Tamaulipas State, Rodolfo Torre Cantú. Torre was gunned down along with six others at about 10:30 this morning on a highway on the way to a campaign event. Drug mafias are assumed to be responsible. [link]

    • From the days when coups were something of a regional sport, new documents detail a famous British ballerina's role in a plot to topple the government of Panama. The plan was to use her yacht to gather men and arms, then "land somewhere and collect in the hills." It didn't work. [link]

    • Mexico's Attorney General's Office has posted on its web site irrefutable evidence that gold-plated AR-15s and diamond-studded pistol grips are not nearly as cool-looking as they sound. The deadly knick-knack collection is said to belong to Valencia Cartel leader El Lobo. [link]

    • Two Brazilian ranchers were sentenced to 30 years in prison apiece for ordering the killing of an environmentalist nun: "Prosecutors said the pair offered to pay a gunman $25,000 to kill the 73-year-old [Dorothy] Stang because she had prevented them from stealing a piece of land that the government had granted to a group of poor farmers." [link]


    • This video of a kidnapping and car chase in Mexico is notable mainly for the bad-assitude of the TV journalists who were on this like white on rice. Well done, gentlemen.

    • The Economist takes a peak at the Mockus phenomenon in Colombia: "His moustacheless beard gives him the air of a Baltic pastor... He is financing his campaign with a bank overdraft. His supporters rely on Facebook and make their own posters; street vendors sell unofficial campaign T-shirts." [link]

    • Some cruise lines will cease traveling to Antarctica after this cruise season, as a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil goes into effect next year. The ban came after a 2007 incident when a Gap Adventures ship got punctured by ice and sank, causing a mess. [link]