CNN – With millions of gallons of raw sewage spilled into the Pacific Ocean surface and onto the shores of southern California, officials in the United States and Mexico have launched a bi-national investigation into the spill that apparently originated in Mexico.
By Nacha Cattan and Eric Martin / Bloomberg
Mexico’s top trade negotiator doubled down on threats to break off talks to rework Nafta, saying his country will walk away if the U.S. insists on slapping duties or quotas on any products from south of the border.
“The moment that they say, ‘We’re going to put a 20 percent tariff on cars, I
get up from the table,” Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said in an interview. “Bye-bye.”
This doesn’t mean, Guajardo emphasized, that Mexico would be looking to scrap Nafta. But by saying it refuses to even discuss the kind of tariffs President Donald Trump has long trumpeted, the country is ratcheting up the pressure on U.S. negotiators and effectively daring them to pull out of the 23-year-old pact.
Trump has lambasted the accord — which also includes Canada — as unfair and responsible for a “massive” imbalance favoring Mexico. It last year shipped $294 billion worth of goods north while the U.S. sent $231 billion south.
Mexican officials have said they expect official talks to start in June.
VOA – Scientists have found living organisms trapped in crystals that could be 50,000 years old. The organisms were found in a hot, but beautiful cave system in Naica, Mexico. If the findings are confirmed, they will show how microbes can survive in extreme conditions.
By Margot Sanger-Katz
In the first year of a big soda tax in Mexico, sales of sugary drinks fell. In the second year, they fell further, according to new research.
The finding represents the best evidence to date of how sizable taxes on sugary drinks, increasingly favored by large American cities, may influence consumer behavior. The results could have consequences for public health.
Mexico’s soda tax took effect in 2014, and applied to all beverages that included added sugar, including carbonated soft drinks, fruit drinks and sweetened iced teas. The effort was pushed by public health advocates who argued that liquid sugar was contributing to the country’s high burden of obesity and diabetes.
Studies on the first year of the tax found that sugary beverage consumption fell substantially, with the biggest decreases among low-income Mexicans — the group at highest risk of obesity-related diseases. But industry analysts and anti-tax advocates had argued that the one-year results could just be a blip that would reverse as companies retooled their products, or as consumers adjusted to higher prices for their favorite drinks.
The new study, published online Wednesday in Health Affairs, shows that the results of such a tax may be far more long-lasting. The research, based on shopping data from a large sample of urban Mexican households, showed that the first year’s consumption declines continued during the second year.
UPI – While Mexicans share a deep dislike of U.S. President Donald Trump, they are not fond of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto either. His 17 percent approval ratings are the lowest recorded for a Mexican president.
JTA – Three Israeli single fathers whose babies were born in Mexico to surrogate mothers cannot fly their children to the Jewish state because local authorities are refusing to issue birth certificates.
CNS – Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. John Kelly has ordered a report detailing and totaling “all sources” of U.S. taxpayer money given to the government of Mexico over the past five years – and it’s due in 30 days.
A top Japanese company said Thursday it had dropped Mexico as a possible location for a new auto parts factory after Donald Trump rapped Toyota over a plant in the country — and economists warned more firms could follow suit.
The decision by Nisshinbo Holdings marked the first time a Japanese company has publicly abandoned a Mexican facility in response to the new US president’s protectionist outbursts, the Nikkei business daily said Thursday.
The announcement comes as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe heads to Washington today (Thursday) for meetings with Trump aimed at cementing ties and underscoring Japan’s commitment to investing in the US.
Mexico was among the locations being considered for Nisshinbo’s vehicle brake parts plant, reportedly worth up to 10 billion yen ($89 million).
The firm is a leading maker of friction-reducing brake parts with about a 15 percent share of the global market.
News18 – Mexico City’s first constitution was officially published on Sunday, a move that authorities called historic and which is a significant step towards transforming the national capital into this country’s 32nd state.
By Juan Montes / Wall Street Journal
Mexico’s government kept gasoline prices unchanged Friday after a big jump in prices in early January prompted protests, riots and looting across the country.
The decision to leave prices unchanged in the first weeks of February followed a slight decline in international oil prices and an appreciation of the peso in recent weeks. A senior official at the Finance Ministry said no subsidies or tax breaks will be needed to keep prices unchanged.
But the move also had political implications, analysts said. A second jump in gasoline prices could have reignited protests at a moment when President Enrique Peña Nieto is enjoying broad support after canceling last week his planned visit to the U.S. to meet President Donald Trump, who is widely unpopular in Mexico.
By Kate Linthicum and Cecilia Sanchez / Los Angeles Times
The Mexican government on Wednesday vehemently denied reports that President Trump threatened to send American soldiers into Mexico during a phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Such a threat “did not happen during that call,” said a government statement released on Twitter Wednesday night.
“I know it with absolute certainty, there was no threat,” Peña Nieto spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said in a radio interview. “The things that have been said are nonsense and a downright lie.”
The Associated Press and a Mexican news website, Aristegui Noticias, reported earlier in the day that Trump had humiliated Peña Nieto during a phone call between the leaders on Friday.
The White House would not comment on the purported transcript and denied that the U.S. was planning to invade Mexico.
Business Insider – The tariff proposal, which the Trump administration walked back saying it was just one option being considered, could make goods from Mexico more expensive. That could pose a huge problem for restaurant chains like Chipotle that heavily rely on Mexican imports.
Mexico’s foreign minister Luis Videgaray said further meetings with Trump administration officials in coming days are not ruled out, according to a report Monday.
He said there is no tentative date yet for a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. But, the minister said, if the peso is a gauge of relations with the U.S., last week was a good week.
The Mexican peso briefly rose about 1 percent against the U.S. dollar Monday morning after netting a gain of more than 3 percent in volatile trade last week.
Videgaray said the phone call between the two presidents helped calm tensions with the U.S., but differences remain. The minister said remittances have not been a point of discussion so far with the Trump team, while talk of making organized crime pay for a wall is a positive sign.
The foreign minister also said Mexico will keep its immigration policy the same and is not closing its doors to anyone.
Fox – Just a few days ago, Enrique Pena Nieto was a pariah president, dogged by protests and cursed with the lowest approval rating for a Mexican leader in recent history. No more, thanks to Donald Trump.
The Hill – A leading progressive think tank is warning that President Donald Trump’s “vilification” of Mexicans could scuttle the U.S.-Mexico relationship The Center for American Progress (CAP) said the U.S.-Mexico relationship is in “perhaps the best shape it has ever been. But it predicts that if Trump’s “vilification” becomes official policy, “it will harm the United States—at home, throughout the Americas, and around the globe.”
Telegraph -The mayor of Berlin has pleaded with Donald Trump not to build a wall along America’s southern border with Mexico. Michael Mueller said that such a wall would “destroy the lives of millions”.
By Joshua Partlow and William Branigin / Washington Post
Amid one of the worst crises in U.S.-Mexico relations in years, President Trump and President Enrique Peña Nieto spoke by phone Friday morning for about an hour, a conversation that Trump said was “very, very friendly” but one he suggested was a prelude to tough negotiations over what he described as an unfair trade relationship.
“We had a very good call,” Trump said in a joint news conference with visiting British Prime Minister Theresa May. “I have been very strong on Mexico. I have great respect for Mexico. I love the Mexican people.” But he quickly added that “Mexico has outnegotiated us and beat us to a pulp. They’ve made us look foolish.”
He said his talk with Peña Nieto “lasted for about an hour” and that “we are going to be working on a fair relationship, a new relationship.”
Although Trump said that “it was a very, very friendly call,” he also stressed that “we are going to be renegotiating our trade deals.” He said negotiations with Mexico will take place “over the coming months” to ensure that the United States does not “lose” on trade.
Peña Nieto’s office said the two leaders had a “constructive and productive conversation” about the bilateral relationship, including the issue about the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico, the importance of “friendship” between the two countries, “and the need of our countries to work together to stop drug trafficking and the flow of illegal weapons.”
By Ryan Lizza / The New Yorker
Last Saturday, in his first public announcement from the White House, Sean Spicer, President Trump’s press secretary, noted that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto would visit Trump on Jan.31st for a meeting “on trade, immigration, and security.” (This was after Spicer finished berating the press for accurately reporting on the relatively small crowd size at Trump’s Inauguration.)
This week, Peña Nieto dispatched several ministers to lay the groundwork for the summit, including Luis Videgaray, his new secretary of foreign affairs. Last fall, Videgaray, then the finance minister, and one of the few people in Peña Nieto’s administration with links to the Trump campaign, recommended that Peña Nieto invite Trump to Mexico. Trump’s visit became such an embarrassment to the unpopular Mexican government that Peña Nieto was forced to sack Videgaray.
But, after Trump won, Videgaray was welcomed back into the government in his current role. “He was the only one who had diplomatic ties to the Trump Administration,” an official at the Mexican Embassy noted.
On Wednesday, when Videgaray and his colleagues came to the White House for a day of meetings with Jared Kushner and other senior Trump aides, Trump signed one executive order calling for “the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border” and another greatly expanding the categories of undocumented immigrants who will be prioritized for deportation. The Embassy official said the team of diplomats at the White House was furious and despondent at the timing. “They were like, ‘What the fuck are we going to negotiate?’ ” the official said. “ ‘You’ve done the job. What are we going to negotiate if you’ve signed this? What’s wrong with you?’ ”
Peña Nieto made an emotional televised statement to his country on Wednesday evening condemning Trump’s executive orders. “Mexico will not pay for any wall,” he said. He promised to turn Mexico’s fifty consulates in the United States into “true ramparts in defense of migrant rights.”
The relationship between the two leaders completely ruptured. In one of his first instances of Twitter diplomacy as President, Trump wrote on Thursday morning, “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.” Not surprisingly, Peña Nieto cancelled.
This depressing episode confirms several of the worst fears about Trump. The first is that he is not a good negotiator. Rather than waiting a week before he issued his executive orders on immigration, Trump signed them at a moment that maximally embarrassed Videgaray, the Mexican official who is the most sympathetic to him. The moves left the unpopular Peña Nieto with no choice but to cancel next week’s visit, and poisoned the relationship with one of America’s closest allies and our third-largest trading partner.
Furthermore, it showed that with his impulsive use of Twitter to make foreign-policy statements, Trump is turning American diplomacy into a series of personal relationships unguided by strategy or forethought.
Reuters – Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim said on Friday a united Mexico was ready to help the government negotiate with Donald Trump, and tried to calm fears in his country about what the U.S. president’s policies would mean for its economy. In a rare news conference by the generally media-shy mogul, Slim said Mexico needed to negotiate from a position of strength, noting that Trump, who he called a “great negotiator,” represented a major change in how politics was conducted.
Time – A digital image of a clenched fist bathed in the red, white and green of Mexico’s flag and decorated with the nation’s emblematic eagle and “Consumers, to the Shout of War” is part of a slew of messages, memes and videos that have been spreading in Mexico in recent days as President Donald Trump pushes for a border wall, deportations and punishing new trade rules. Others messages call for specific boycotts of U.S. companies in Mexico, including McDonalds, Walmart and Coca-Cola. One of the most heavily trending hashtags is #AdiosStarbucks, or “Goodbye Starbucks,” referring to the Seattle company which has opened hundreds of coffee houses in Mexico.