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That’s all Volks!

8 March 2015

Automotive News is reporting that Volkswagen will be investing a billion big ones (1000 million US dollars… an American billion) in expanding the Puebla production plant.

The investment, aimed at supporting production of the Tiguan compact crossover, is due to be unveiled on Monday and is expected to generate about 1,900 jobs, the person said.

indexThe current Tiguan is scheduled to be redesigned in 2017 and a long-wheelbase version will be sold in the U.S. market. Volkswagen has only said that the long-wheelbase Tiguan will be assembled in North America, but a source with knowledge of the company’s plans says that the company plans to build it in Puebla.

The Puebla plant already manufactures the Golf compact on the version of VW’s Modular Transverse Matrix platform, or “MQB,” that will also underpin the next Tiguan.

[…]

Mexico is the seventh biggest manufacturer of autos and the fourth largest exporter in the world, according to AMIA. More than 80 percent of those vehicles are destined for sale abroad.

Total auto production increased 27 percent last year, compared to 2013, and AMIA has predicted that Mexico will produce more than 5 million vehicles by 2020.

 

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesterday…

8 March 2015

… when the United States government found it had to undo the previous twenty years of anti-Mexican propaganda after May 1942, when Mexico entered the “War Against Nazis and Fascists” on the Allied side, and Mexican labor, resources, and food were essential to the war effort.  Note that despite official anti-clericalism, the Mexicans are presented as a “people of faith” and that Chilangos are presented as “just like us” (middle class and whitish).

A want my mummy

7 March 2015

Gruesome, but fascinating.

CaptureA mountain-climbing club, on an expedition to the summit of Citlatépetl (aka Pico de Oriziba), the highest mountain in Mexico and, at 5,636 meters above sea level, the third highest (after Mt. McKinley and Mt. Logan) mountain in North America, discovered two mummified human bodies.

Although in the tropics, and with a tropical climate at its based, Citlatépetl is snow covered year round at the summit, and is home to the largest glacier in Mexico.  Between the sun, the dry climate, the volcanic soil (Citlatépetl, like Mt. Fuji in Japan is a volcano, last erupting in 1846) and the cold, organic matter is slow to decompose.  Something as large as a human body would be likely to mummify, although it would not be likely to be preserved indefinitely.

CaptureIt is not an impossible climb (the first recorded climb was only in 1848, by French climber Alejandre Doignon) but it is a challenging one, requiring not just to be in good athletic condition, but also to be an experienced alpinist.

And therein lies the problem.  While the bodies were first thought to date back to the 1960s, there were two climbers lost in an avalance in 1950, whose families believe (and who authorities believe) are who the mummies were.  Which suggests that they were buried in the avalanche, but global warming since 1950 uncovered the bodies only recently.

There is, of course, a legal process to be followed, if the bodies are to be released to the families, and even after 65 years, there are accident reports to be filed, but death investigators in the State of Puebla are not mountain climbers (nor is it in their job description), nor are mountain climbers death investigators.  The climbers who discovered the mummies are willing to recover the remains, and bring them down, but then the forensics team has no way of insuring the procedures were followed, nor of avoiding contaminating the scene and ruling out suicide or homicide.

Sometimes the cliches are true… there just is no way in Mexico to follow the rules, even if you want to, and there is nowhere in the country you can go without uncovering a chilling reminder of our past.

 

Right to work?

6 March 2015

CaptureA post on a facebook page for foreigners living in Mexico City caught my attention.

hi! are you an american living in Mexico city and would you like to help mexicans to improve their english speaking skills and to get some money ( little money ) in exchange. there is no necesary ESL teaching qualifications or experince. It´s required to be joyfull, patient, to like to talk.
age required 20-40 yo. Interested ask by inbox thanks

While only slightly offended… and my reasons are below … the bigger question it raised was whether — as foreigners, one acquiesces to custom, even when it violates the law of the land… and, more importantly, are we (again as foreigners) ethically obliged to stick up for the law over custom, when the law is what we (as good liberal Americans or whatever) see as only fair and just?

The ad itself is typical of ones I see regularly in the papers in various forms…openly defining limitations on applicants… by gender, or appearance, or — as here — by age. Such ads are often enough for dubious forms of employment (especially when looking for, say “women between the ages of 18 and 30 with a good appearance”). Although I can’t say much about the job itself, though this looks exactly like one of the jobs meant for “illegal aliens”.

I think I can say that, mostly because, having been an illegal alien (though I prefer to think of myself as a “mojado reverso”) — helping “mexicans to improve their english speaking skills” while having “no necesary ESL teaching qualifications or [sic] experince” is exactly the kind of job “americans” without papers were taking.

Whether I actually did “help mexicans to improve their english skills”, I can’t say exactly (I hope I did SOME GOOD), but at least the schools I worked for vetted me to make sure I had a relevant university degree and “some” teaching experience. A quirk in the then-extant immigration laws, and a perceived shortage in qualified ESL teachers, let me slide by (one company paid me “technically” in the United States, the others just fudged by RFC — Mexican social security number — and just hoped the authorities never stopped by. If they did, I was screwed), or I just was paid cash.

Given the murky immigration laws at the time, there was little danger in being an “illegal”. Mostly it was the financial hassles of not being able to open a bank account, not able to contract for an apartment, and not able to be hired for a regular position, that were the problem.

Which was ok at the time, but, when I did find a semi-regular employer and they ran into financial problems, I had no prospects for a decent income, and had no choice but to “self-deport” for a time. With the mention that qualifications are NOT required, and that the work is casual, this doesn’t appear to be a legitimate, or at least well-established, employer and the pay is probably not enough to support a person. Which I suppose is OK, provided the person has enough income to otherwise live, and understands this is not likely to be a “real” job in any sense. In other words, it’s for a day laborer.

Obviously have no right to object to “illegals” working, and normally, I wouldn’t expect employers to check the visas of casual workers, but a job offer like this in a PUBLIC FORUM is an invitation to the immigration service (under political pressure to present an “even-handed” approach to U.S. residents) may not be in the best interest of those served, or of those who will be providing the service. Those served are reading that they are receiving less-than-qualified teachers. The wannabe service providers, under the new immigration regulations, are liable to opening themselves up to both fines, the hassle of hiring a lawyer (out of their own pocket) and possible deportation … which those of us young and naive enough to believe that we can just “wing it” in Mexico are likely not to see.

All of which is speculation (based on experience) on my part. What is more troubling is that in a forum for foreign residents, the non-discrimination laws are being flaunted. I’m not so naive as to think they aren’t regularly breached, or that employers don’t discriminate against older workers regularly, but wonder if … as foreigners… we shouldn’t bend over backwards to follow the law. Given that this ad was aimed at US residents — stereotypically a people who talk regularly about “rule of law” and our “Constitutional rights” — ad ad that seems a clear violation of both Constitutional law (Articulo 1° very clearly prohibits discrimination based on age) and the Federal District’s “Ley Para Previr y Elminar la Discriminación del Distrito Federal”. The latter (articulos 5 and 6-bis II) specifically prohibit discrimination in employment because of age (or any number of other categories, including the presence or absence of body piercings). My reading of the “Ley Para Previr” is that restricting the pool of would-be applicants to a specific nationality … as opposed to “Native English Speakers” might also lie outside the law… Canadians, Australians, Nigerians (who were the best of the illegal alien teachers we had, when I compounded by illegality by hiring them myself), Brits, etc.

I dropped a small bombshell asking about the Constitutional non-discrimination issue, which the poster responded to with “examples” where discrimination was valid… a paraplegic can’t be a lifeguard (although there is no reason a paraplegic can’t work for a parks and recreation department, and — of course — being able to swim is one of the prerequisites for that particular job) … and asking if I’d want to hire a 65 year old woman to be a roller-skating waitress. While I didn’t respond, I would note that I know some septuagenarians who can roller-skate rings around me, though I have no idea of their table-waiting skills. And, anyway, why can’t a 41 year old… or a 60 year old, teach English?

There’s a name in logic for raising silly objections, I’m sure, but it’s not worth responding to those types of arguments. The bigger question, and one I’m still not sure of, is whether or not that by raising objections (about, in this instance, age discrimination) are we basing our objections in our own prejudices towards our own moral precepts, or — considering those moral precepts towards non-discrimination are part of the legal code in this country — within our rights to question those, even if they are the majority, who ignore the law?

Baby, you can’t drive my car

4 March 2015

CaptureHector Robles Peiro, the Presidente Municipal of Zapopan, has come up with a argument against infrastructure maintenance that would do honor to a Tea Partier in the United States.  Asked why streets in poor neighborhoods in the richest community in the state of Jalisco are not being repaired (or even paved), hizzoner’s response is “Poor people don’t drive.”

The party’s over?

4 March 2015

It hardly spells the end of PRIAN… the convergence of the two main parties, PRI and PAN… but while the decline of the PRD has been the focus of most public attention on the collapse of the traditional parties (“traditional” only in the relative sense… the present configuration only going back to the 1990s), what is emerging is either a rejection of the party system itself, or more likely, a reconfiguration of the parties that will leave PRI as the main party, but increasingly dependent on temporary coalitions that may or may not hold in the long run.

PAN and PRD’s internal disputes have been widely aired.  That prominent defectors from PRD are going to the smaller leftist parties (a process underway for at least the last three years) is not surprising.  PRD was always an ideological leftist party, but made “strategic alliances” with PAN (itself a unwieldy coalition of Catholics, fascists, and liberal capitalists) in regional elections that had the effect of either leaving the left out in the cold (as in Sinaloa, where the state governor is a former PRI official, and there isn’t any real difference in the governance as a result), or … as in Guerrero and Morelos… simply ending up with state governments less “pure” than their alleged ideological rivals.  And just as crooked (if not more so).  For their own survival, PRD officials have been jumping ship.  Those who won’t ally themselves with AMLO and Morena have been going to the new smaller leftist parties (Citizens Movement, the Workers Party) or becoming independents.  At least for now, it looks as if Morena and the Greens may be the “swing parties” in the next Legislature, although its difficult to imagine the Greens joining with any party other than PAN or PRI.  The New Alliance COULD join with MORENA (its been floated) as would the small Workers Party and Citizens’ Movement to form a loose coalition with a smaller PRD, to form a real opposition to PRIAN.

While there aren’t as many defections from PAN, the party’s internal disagreements are more public than they were, while PRI… supposedly the most disciplined (and ideologically mushy) of the major parties has not seen public defections in any numbers.

But behind the scenes?

poll

Buendía and Laredo’s voter preference polls show a massive defection from PRI over the last few months.  PRD only lost one percent between November and February, while PRI lost a whopping 12 percent.  One would assume that the usual alternatives to the neo-liberal PRI … conservative PAN or the mushy Greens would capture those defectors, but between them, PAN and the Greens have only gained five percent.  MORENA gained five percent (more than doubling the number of likely voters), while Citizen’s Movement and the Social Encounter both had modest gains.  Presumably, the anti-AMLO PRD defectors went to those parties, which would suggest that MORENA could be capturing more PRI voters than had been noticed.

More interestingly, Consulta Mitofsky conducted a poll looking at which parties the voters are REJECTING… asking what party they would NOT vote for.

Mitofski-Feb2015_GranElectoral_Page_08

PRI, for the first time ever, led that pack, rejected by 44.3 percent of those polled.

All the parties have high negatives, the major parties most of all, though MORENA (identified with AMLO) is the only one of the new and minor parties with over 30 percent of voters rejecting it outright… but then again, AMLO’s negatives have always been at about 30 percent.  What is surprising is even the unknowns like the Humanist Party show a nearly 30 percent rejection.

This could mean that voters are simply chosing “none of the above” or it could mean the real political struggle is NOT among PAN, PRI and PRD, but among the smaller parties (who need at least three percent of the vote to keep their registration) trying to downplay the negatives all political parties have earned in this country, while trying to appeal to the growing number of defectors from the majors.

 

 

To boldly go where no cocktail has gone before

4 March 2015

Another first for the Mexican space program… ¡Salut!

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