Category Archives: Politics

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.

***********

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.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

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.

img_20190110_094105 (2)

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.

img_20190110_092617 (2)

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.

img_20190110_091352 (2)

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!

*******

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

5 Comments

Filed under Driving Hazards, Economics, Politics

2019–International Year of Indigenous Languages

lenguages

Did you know that 2019 has been declared International Year of Indigenous Languages by the United Nations? The organization’s goals include increasing understanding, creating conditions for knowledge-sharing, and integration of indigenous languages with the dominant cultures of each country. UNESCO has even set up a site which lists events, ways to get involved, and teaching resources which you can find here.

The Mexican government officially recognizes 68 indigenous languages which have approximately 350 different dialects. Most of these languages originated from 7 larger language families while some resulted from 4 language isolates, that is they developed independently of other languages. Purépecha, the indigenous language spoken in the area where I live on the border of Michoacan and Guanajuato, is one of those language isolates. (See Catalogo de las Lenguas Indígenas Nacionales: Variantes Lingüísticas de México con sus autodenominaciones y referencias geoestadísticas). Twenty-one indigenous languages are in danger of extinction as the last remaining speakers die off.

Since 2003, the Mexican law Ley General de Derechos Lingüísticos de los Pueblos Indígenas requires that its citizens receive services in their native tongues. Some strides in that direction have been made because of the efforts of the Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas but the results have been limited nationally.

Approximately 6 million Mexicans speak an indigenous language. Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, and Yucatec Maya are the two most spoken languages. Six million people is only about 7% of the entire population of Mexico which has allowed for increasing marginalization over the centuries.

However, under the new presidential regime of AMLO, indigenous culture has taken center stage once again. At his December 1 inauguration, the president-elect received the official blessing from the governor of Los Pueblos Indígenas (indigenous towns) complete with incense and cedar staff engraved with 68 indigenous language representations. He received yet another ruling staff on his trip to Oaxaca later in the month. This staff was the official Tatamandón, the staff that symbolizes the ruler of the majority of indigenous communities of the area.

Just days after taking office, AMLO announced the formation of the Programa Nacional de los Pueblos Indígenas stating “Daremos preferencia a los más humildes y a los olvidados, en especial a los Pueblos Indígenas de México.” Andrés Manuel López Obrador (We will give preference to the most humble and forgotten, especially the Indigenous Towns of Mexico)

It appears he is making efforts to listen to and incorporate the indigenous population in the new government.

On the other hand, AMLO also approved the construction of what is known as the Maya Train, even going as far as hosting a ceremony to ask Mother Earth bestow her blessings on the construction. Indigenous groups in the area are opposed to the route which will pass through some of Mexico’s most biodiverse and fragile ecosystems.

Furthermore, EZLN (the Zapatistas) have already made it clear that they do not support AMLO in any way, shape or form and will oppose his government with violence if necessary.

Whether the new government fulfills its promises toward the indigenous peoples or not remains to be seen.

What indigenous languages are spoken in your area?

2 Comments

Filed under Cultural Challenges, Mexican Cultural Stories, Politics

Transmisión del Poder Ejecutivo Federal

Every 6 years, December 1 is a national holiday.  It’s the day that Mexican federal power transfers to a new president.  Out with the old, in with the new (unless you are Porfirio Diaz or Benito Juarez that is). It’s similar to the transfer of the flag from the graduating class to the junior class during graduation ceremonies.  

Here you can see the transfer of power (represented by the flag) from Felipe Calderón Hinojosa to Enrique Peña Nieto in 2012.

I imagine this became a federal holiday to reduce protests bound to happen during such a momentous event. With no work, it’s a good chance that the peasants will be too drunk to do much in the way of organizing a revolution. But this remains my own opinion on it. I was unable to find any reason why this day is in any way special. It’s the same old tired story, no matter who is president.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mexican Holidays, Politics