Category Archives: Politics

August Updates

The topic of COVID-19 has me a bit overwhelmed. So I’ve been avoiding it, well, like the plague. However, to try and unravel the current situation in Guanajuato, I thought I’d take up the gauntlet today. 

Unless you’ve been sheltering under the proverbial bushel basket, you should know Mexico has moved up in the death race. Mexico now has the third-highest death rate from Covid-19, right after Brazil and the U.S. 

To celebrate this grand event, the state of Guanajuato has moved into orange. This means, places like movie theaters, churches, and gyms can reopen, with precautions, of course. The church has disinfecting mist spray entrances, requires face masks, and is limiting occupancy to 125 people to allow for social distancing. The gyms are taking temperatures at the front door. 

These reopenings are going full steam ahead despite the Pan American Health Organization predicting a new peak in new cases in August. In fact, July 31 saw a new high of 8,458 cases that was topped August 1 with 9,556 cases. The accumulated case tally in Mexico is the sixth-highest in the world. 

Mexico City, of course, has the most active cases, followed by Mexico State. Guanajuato is in the third position, followed by Veracruz, Coahuila, San Luis Potosí, and Nuevo León tied for fourth. As if these statistics weren’t alarming enough, it’s important to take into consideration that these numbers are completely inaccurate. There is no widespread testing taking place, so it’s really anyone’s guess on the true count. 

More or less SEP’s plan for back to school

Mexico made the decision a few days ago to not return to classes. Instead, school will be available online, on the television, and through radio broadcasts. As prudent as this seems, there are some economic repercussions. On the 15th of this month, teacher contracts expire. If they will not be teaching for the foreseeable future, will they get paid? Then there are the small businesses that earn their pesos providing school uniforms and school supplies. What will happen to their livelihood? The future seems bleak for these sectors. 

Moroleon, you survived looting, flooding, the devaluation of the peso in 1995, Chinese clothing imports and you will make it through the pandemic.

Coronavirus aside, Guanajuato has also been declared a safer area with the capture of Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel leader “El Marro” this week. Apparently it took all of 15 minutes to make the arrest. Personally, I have some doubts about the whole situation. Perhaps El Marro felt it was safer in police custody for the moment. The cartel-related violence in our town hasn’t diminished with his arrest, that’s for sure. Last week a man was killed at the barbershop, another in the market, and a third in a moto-repair shop. 

So how is this affecting our daily lives? More of the same really. We dash to town as early as possible and pick up our supplies, then hunker down in La Yacata for the rest of the day. More and more groups have also been gathering in our little corner of the world, since gatherings are still prohibited in town. In fact, this weekend, there were so many people sitting around on buckets, that my son felt the need to put on his mask to bring the horses in from the pasture. 

Fortunately, we have plenty to do to keep us busy. I am still writing and teaching to make ends meet. My son continues with his online prepa courses. Our animals entertain us when they can. Plus we have plenty of good movies to watch and unlimited books via kindle. Overall, we are in a much better position than those that tried to avoid the plague in the middle ages. Wouldn’t you agree?

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Filed under Economics, Education, Health, Politics, Safety and Security, Small Business in Mexico

Huachicoleros in Mexico

If you’ve been following the news on the current gas crisis in Mexico, you may have seen the word huachicolero in reference to those that buy and sell illegally obtained gasoline. This is a word that originally referred to people who knocked fruit from trees using a huachicol which is a long-handled instrument with a basket at the end to scoop the fruit in. Huachicol can also refer to watered-down liquor. Thus huachicoleros are those that sell the watered-down liquor. Which brings us back to huachicoleros in the news these days who are dedicated, and I mean dedicated, to obtaining and selling water-down gas. These are the people that AMLO intended to bring down with this change in distribution methods.

Pemex, the government owed petroleum mega-giant, has been losing money hand over fist in recent years. It is estimated that $7.9 billion USD has been lost because of gasoline theft in the last 7 years. AMLO believes previous presidencies have been in colusion with the theft. No surprises there!

So how is so much gas stolen? Well, it’s not nearly as exciting as this scene from the Fast and The Furious.

Long pipelines crisscross the country running under both private and government-owned lands. It isn’t so very hard, although sometimes quite dangerous, to tap a pipeline and build a warehouse around it where trucks can come and go unmolested and is much less difficult than stealing what would amount to 250 20,000-liter tanker trucks each year.

Central Mexico was hit hardest with this new distribution regulation. Large sections of the pipeline run through rural areas in Michoacan and Guanajuato which are not regularly monitored. For example, “everyone” knows there is a pipeline tap in nearby Cuitzeo, just outside of Morelia, Michoacan. It’s run by the cartel with the complete cooperation of local officials.

So how did things get to this crisis level? Gas stations that were in the habit of buying large quantities of this water-down gas, had scheduled low numbers of tanker truck deliveries from Pemex distribution centers this month, as they have had every month previously. With the pipelines shut down, the huachicoleros lost their supply of illegal gas and have been unable to make their regular deliveries. 

You might already know that the previous president Pena Nieto opened the petroleum market up for foreign investors. So now, Exxon and Mobile stations have sprung up all over the place, even taking over formerly owned Pemex stations. In our area, these foreign-owned stations ran out of gas long before the lone Pemex holdout. Now in the third week of the gas crisis, this single Pemex gas station has been receiving regular shipments every 2-3 days, which is not enough to meet demand with the other gas stations in town being effectively closed. So many people are still camping out in their cars awaiting the next gas shipment that an entire lane of traffic has been closed to accommodate them stretching for miles. Traffic has been entirely rerouted.

That’s not to say that only foreign-owned gas stations have been buying stolen gas. I think there might be an inherent bias in the distribution system these days. AMLO has been vocal about Mexico for the Mexicans. Foreign importation of gasoline has already been reduced. So it’s no far stretch to believe Pemex is taking care of its own first.

Gas ahead.

What will happen next? According to AMLO, the pipelines will remain closed. The income loss experienced by the huachicoleros won’t be taken lightly. There are bound to be violent repercussions in our cartel-run area. In fact, in some areas, the regular ol’ Joses and Josefinas have taken up the call of the huachicoleros and tapped their own pipelines

In the meantime, enjoy the La Cumbia del Wachicol by Tamara Alcantara while you can.

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Would you like to read about my own experience with governmental correuption in rural Mexico?

Check out La Yacata Revolution: How NOT to buy a piece of Heaven in Mexico.

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Filed under Driving Hazards, Economics, Politics, Safety and Security

Gaspocalypse

We are well into week 2 of the 2019 Gaspocalypse. Three days last week there was not a drop of that liquid gold to be found in Moroleon, Uriangato or Yuririra. The roads were eerily deserted. People camped in lines miles long in the hope that maybe tomorrow there would be gas. By Thursday, there was a trickle of gas coming in. Gas stations opened at 8 am and were sold out by 11 am. People waited more than 6 hours in line.

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Never leave home without your garafon of gas!

By Friday, a few delivery trucks were up and running. I saw the coke and Sabritas trucks out. Good thing! I don’t know what Moroleon would have done without their soda and chips. Mass hysteria to be sure! Of course, there is a Corona bottling plant in town. You know the owner of Corona lives in Moroleon, right? So there was never a fear of running out of beer. Whew!

gas ilustration

So how did things get to this extreme juncture with gas shortages now in 10 states? Well, no one is exactly sure. Initially, the well-intentioned president AMLO closed the pipelines to cut down on the out-of-control petroleum theft. Gas was to be brought to the stations via tanker truck under watchful military vigilance.

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Gas motorcade!

There aren’t enough trucks to meet demand so the gas has been languishing away at the port storage facilities. In fact, 60 oil tankers are anchored off-shore waiting to offload their cargo. Some have been waiting more than a month. Thus it remains a distribution problem rather than an actual gas shortage.

It appears that beginning this week the Mexican government will hire privately owned trucks to help alleviate the backup. The trucks will run 24 hours a day and be escorted by military police. Good! Good!

Has this rerouting process and pipeline closures helped with the gas theft? Not much apparently! Gas thefts from pipelines continue in Texmelucan, Puebla even with more than 4,000 additional federal troops being dispatched to safeguard them.

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Nearly there now!

The serpentine lines at gas stations continue. Fresh food deliveries are few and far between. Tourism is way down. Black market gas has reached record high prices on Facebook. Police have been forced to ride bikes on patrol. Superbowl Sunday Guacamole Dip is endangered. Suspected fuel thieves are being branded.

And yet, through it all, Mexicans find a way. In Morelia, mariachis came to party the night away with motorists waiting for the next gas shipment. What was about someone fiddling while the city burned?

Even if the gas shipments are regularized this week, the devastating blow to the Mexican economy will take much longer to regularize. AMLO’s decisions as incoming president are being questioned. The consensus seems to be that things were better under PRI. At least there was gas. Who cares if it was stolen? The devil you know and all that.

This reform went so swimmingly well, I can’t wait to see what AMLO has in store for the national healthcare system!

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Would you like to learn how to survive other catastrophic disasters in Mexico? Check out A to Z Reasons Why La Yacata is the Place to Be in Any Disaster: A Prepper’s Guide to Mexico.atozcover

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Filed under Driving Hazards, Economics, Politics