By Eric Farnsworth, Council of the Americas
July was bad for Mexico, the month ending with news of a gangland-style murder of journalist Ruben Espinosa and four others in Mexico City. It was the latest in a lengthening line of journalists targeted and killed for their profession — 370 over the past 10 years, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Coupled with the spectacularly embarrassing escape of drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán from his maximum security prison cell, as well as perceptions of corruption and self-absorption that continue to swirl around the ruling class, the political mood has turned sour. Headlines proclaiming that the 2012 election of President Enrique Peña Nieto would usher in “Mexico’s moment” seem long ago and far away. Read more
Bye-bye “primitive” internet banking. Hello smart banking straight from your smartphone. That, at least, is the pitch from Mexico’s Grupo Azteca, part of businessman Ricardo Salinas’s finance, retail and TV empire. Read more
A new year, a newly opening Mexican oil sector … but things are off to a mixed start.
On the less than rosy side, little more than a week into what is supposed to be a year heralding an unprecedented energy investment boom, Pemex, the state oil company, has taken the step of not renewing a host of contracts for oil service workers. Read more
By Grace Fan, Trusted Sources
One-third of the way through his six-year term, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has dazzled investors with his ambitious reform record, the cornerstone of his administration’s broader development programme to revitalize the sluggish Mexican economy. But the telegenic 48-year-old leader with a reputation for results-oriented governing has failed to convince his increasingly sceptical domestic constituency that he can deliver the goods.
Tepid GDP growth, devastating security problems, political mis-steps and escalating corruption allegations at the end of the year have embroiled him in the worst political crisis in the two-year history of his administration. Read more
All change: After a leadership conflict that sent shares tanking, Mexican bank Banorte, the country’s fourth biggest by loans, has a new chairman and CEO.
Replacing Guillermo Ortiz, a former finance minister and central bank governor, as chairman is Carlos Hank González, grandson of the former controlling shareholder “Don Roberto”. Mr Hank’s ascent was in the works for months and triggered the change of command, while also boosting the family dynasty’s influence over the lender in which it is the largest shareholder. Read more
Full marks for Enrique Peña Nieto: the Mexican president’s energy reform is in the bag, so it’s full speed ahead now to cheaper energy, faster growth, higher investment and more jobs, right?
That’s the plan, and Mexico certainly looks to be on track – indeed, the government is so aware that it has not a moment to lose that with the ink barely dry on the legislation, it was already announcing what private investors could look forward to bidding for as the sector is opened up for the first time since 1938. Read more
Carlos Slim’s foray into Europe is not so much a case of “once bitten, twice shy” as “try, try and try again”. Having failed last year to buy Dutch telecoms operator KPN, the Mexican tycoon has launched a takeover bid for Telekom Austria. Total cost to Slim’s América Móvil? Not including its current 27 per cent stake, about €2.1bn.
That includes the €1.4bn cost of buying the 45 per cent of Telekom Austria that is publicly traded. In addition, there will be América Móvil’s pro-rated €700m share of a subsequent capital increase, which will help shrink Telekom Austria’s chunky leverage (the group has almost €5bn of debt). Read more
Montezuma’s revenge is now no longer just for tourists visiting Mexico. The nation’s pig industry has caught it, too.
The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus, or PEDv, which has ripped through hog herds in the US and hiked Chicago pork prices, has already shown up in most pork producing states in Mexico. Read more
Peru's Ollanta Humala, Chile's Sebastián Piñera, Colombia's Juan Manuel Santos, Mexico's Enrique Peña Nieto and Costa Rica's Laura Chinchilla in Cartagena, Colombia
It’s all about free trade. The Pacific Alliance, a growing bloc in Latin America that stands among the world’s 10 largest economies, sealed a deal on Monday to eliminate tariffs on 92 per cent of goods and services in a move that distances it further from some of its more protectionist neighbours.
“I don’t think there has been an integration process that has taken decisions so fast as the Pacific Alliance has done,” Colombia’s President, Juan Manuel Santos, told beyondbrics. Read more
Take two of Latin America’s most reform-minded governments, throw in a fractured political system, and what do you get? The answer is Mexico – where thousands of protesting teachers fanned out across the capital on Sunday – and Colombia, where 50,000 troops had to be shipped in over the weekend to calm down Bogotá after a rally in support of striking farmers got out of control. Read more
Built at the height of Mexico’s oil boom more than three decades ago, the Pemex Tower in Mexico City – now badly damaged by Thursday’s explosion – was once described as “reflecting the pharaonic ambitions of Mexican bureaucracy”.
The description was penned by Manuel Buendía, once the nation’s best-known newspaper columnist, who was shot dead in a city centre street in 1984 in a killing that involved the secret police and drug barons. Read more