Mexico marked another murderous milestone in its conflict with organised crime as the monthly homicide rate hit its highest level in 20 years.
Government statistics showed that 2,186 murders were committed in May, surpassing the previous monthly high of 2,131 in May 2011, according to a review of records that date back to 1997.
Mexico recorded 9,916 murders in the first five months of 2017, roughly a 30% increase over the same period last year.
The situation has hit such calamitous levels in states such as Guerrero, to south of Mexico City – where armed groups are fighting for control of the heroin industry – that morgues there have been unable to handle the dead bodies.
Analysts say the surging violence stems from various factors, including the increased cultivation of heroin to meet US demand and the legalisation of marijuana in some US states, which has caused cartel profits to plummet and prompted criminal groups to diversify into crimes such as kidnap and extortion.
Washington Post – Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a decree this week legalizing medical marijuana. The measure also classified the psychoactive ingredient in the drug as “therapeutic.” The new policy isn’t exactly opening the door for medical marijuana dispensaries on every corner.
BBC – US President Donald Trump has told supporters that his proposed wall along the border with Mexico could have solar panels fixed to it. Addressing a rally in Iowa, he said the panels would provide cheap energy and help to pay for the controversial wall.
BBC – Mexico came from behind to beat New Zealand and moved top of the group amid ugly scenes at the Confederations Cup. Leeds United’s Chris Wood gave the All Whites a first-half lead but second-half goals by Benfica’s Raul Jimenez and Oribe Peralta sealed victory.
Reuters – Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled in a spat over interconnection rates paid between telecommunications firm America Movil and rivals that touches on a bigger case related to an antitrust reform the company is fighting. The court ruled partly in favor of a unit of America Movil against Pegaso and Grupo de Telecomunicaciones Mexicanas, both Telefonica units, in a case involving rates charged to interconnect calls between their networks.
NYT – The Mexican government said Wednesday that it was opening a criminal investigation to determine whether the nation’s most prominent journalists, human rights defenders and anticorruption activists were subjected to illegal government surveillance.
Quartz -Automaker Ford said June 20 it won’t move production of its Focus model from the US to Mexico after all. The company now plans to make the cars in China, and ship them to the US. It’s an eyebrow-raising decision for several reasons. Making the sedan in neighboring Mexico would be more convenient for Ford, enabling the company to avoid the high costs of shipping the cars from Asia.
Bloomberg – Roku Inc. set-top boxes were pulled from the shelves of major department-store chains in Mexico after a court blocked sales of the devices, saying they could be hacked to let users view pirated movies and TV shows.
Bloomberg – Ford Motor Co. is canceling controversial plans to build the Focus small car in Mexico, saving $1 billion by ending North American production entirely and importing the model mostly from China after next year. The U.S. automaker will start making the next-generation Focus in China from the second half of 2019, a year after output ends at one of its plants in Michigan. Ford will trim about $500 million in costs by shifting production to China, adding to the $500 million already saved from canceling construction of a small-car factory in Mexico earlier this year.
Harvard Business Review – Multinational companies operating in Mexico are facing a great deal of uncertainty. The possibility of a contentious renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement has led to delayed or canceled investments in what has been one of Latin America’s most economically stable markets. Mexico’s fast-approaching July 2018 general election, of which the populist leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador is the current frontrunner, is further making the case for incremental investments by multinationals corporations.
Reuters – Mexico’s coming budget is likely to see a lower “adjustment” to public finances than in the previous budgets, finance minister Jose Antonio Meade said on Tuesday. Mexico has made sizeable cuts to the budget in the past couple of years in a bid to tighten up public finances.
PRI – Despite the frequent use as of their images as cultural symbols, the voices of Mexico’s estimated 25.6 million indigenous people are largely absent from their nation’s mainstream political life. Mexico’s first indigenous woman presidential candidate, Maria de Jesus Patricio Martinez, is working to change that. Upon being selected by the Mexican Indigenous Governance Council (CIG) and the ELZN (the Zapatista National Liberation Army) as their candidate for the 2018 election, she has made history.
WSJ – Mexico awarded 10 blocks of oil and gas for exploration and development to bidders from 10 different countries, including some of the world’s major oil companies, at an auction in the capital Monday.
Bloomberg -The rise of a hostile U.S. president sent stocks, bonds and the peso reeling. That was then. There’s now reason to think that the Trump effect on Mexican markets might be about to run its course.
AZPM-Numbers released on Arizona’s trade relationship with Mexico are causing concern in the business community. But economists say it is too soon to know for sure if Arizona’s trade relationship with Mexico is in trouble. The annual report from the University of Arizona shows Arizona’s exports to Mexico fell by more than 9 percent from one year to the next.
KPBS – Tijuana’s police chief said the U.S. should take responsibility for its role in Mexico’s rising violence, which he links to U.S. gun smuggling and lax gun laws. U.S. statistics show 70 percent of weapons seized at crime scenes in Mexico were traced to the U.S., particularly to the border states of California, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
The Conversation – Mexico has struggled with corruption for a long, long time, but recent events indicate that the situation is now at a truly intolerable pitch. This spring, two fugitive state governors were arrested in a joint operation by Interpol and the Mexican police.
CNN – General Motors plans to bring about 600 jobs back from Mexico to a new industrial park it is building in Texas. The facility in Arlington should be ready by 2018. It will employ 1,250 people working for companies that supply parts for GM — some of whom already work in the area. About half of the workers will do work that is now done in Mexico, the company said.
Reuters – Mexican private spending rose 0.7 percent during the first quarter compared to the previous three-month period. Private spending was 3.1 percent higher than during the same period a year earlier. Aggregate demand increased 2.0 percent from the previous quarter, and was up 4.0 percent from the same quarter in 2016.