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Bullshit, bullshit and more bullshit

24 May 2008

An alarming headline in the San Antonio Express-News reads “Mexican homicides jump 47 pct.”

Ah… no… narcotics-dealer related homicides are up 47 percent.  Which is supposedly a good thing — dead gangsters don’t commit crimes.  According to Eduardo Medina Mora, the Attorney General,

“… the violence reflects drug gangs’ desperation amid the nationwide crackdown, carried out by more than 20,000 soldiers and federal police.

“Evidently when they are cornered and weakened, they have to respond with violence,” Medina Mora said.

Analysts say recent arrests have created a power vacuum and gangs are battling for valuable drug routes and territory.

Grits for Breakfast, Scott Henson’s generally sensible Texas justice blog,

…fears we could soon witness Mexico fall outright into the malaise of a failed state.

He bases this, apparently, on the resignation of the entire Zirandaro, Guerrero police department.  It wasn’t clear if he was talking about the town, or the municipio (county) of that name.  The municipio has a population of 23,000 and, if the place is known at all, it’s only for having been the birthplace of cardiologist Ignacio Chavez.

Though narcotics violence does tend to dominate the news (“if it bleeds, it leads” doesn’t translate well in Spanish, but the sensibilities of media management is the same around the world), there are more important things than gangsters popping each other, or a small town police force resigning en masse (all what — 4 of them?) … which could have been a dispute over supplies (some of these small town rural departments don’t give their cops bullets, or don’t have the budget for a car) or pensions, or anything.

Even here in Sinaloa, where the gangster wars dominate the news, the lead story in Noroeste was about a protest over a rural road building project.  El Debate, which correctly noted that there was a 47% rise in NARCO-homicides, devoted the bulk of their front page to various new health department initiatives around the State.

There’s disagreement about how serious the drug fight is among various political leaders in Guerrero, and a lot of discussion about beach access… but nothing in any of the Guerrero papers from Zirandaro… which doesn’t make the news even on a slow day.

One guy who isn’t full of bullshit is “el longhorn”… though he believes Laura Carleson’s take on PEMEX privatization was full of caca. “el longhorn” writes:

Even to say that Pemex is not contracting out is wrong. As the article notes, Pemex imports 40% of its gasoline from the US – thanks for the money and jobs, Mexico (high paying jobs, too)! Wouldn’t it be better for Mexico if, instead of importing fuel and oil products from US refineries, Pemex allowed the same people to build and operate a new refinery in Mexico? Then the jobs and the capital investment would stay in Mexico instead of being outsourced to the US – what a thought!

I can’t find the original source, but I did read one of the “lefty” commentators making essentially the same point… that ironically it’s the conservatives who are fighting to keep gasoline prices artificially low (he notes they’re the guys who drive gas-using Mercedes to work… not the folks who take deisel-burning buses or the Metro).  While the columnist proposes shifting subsidies to diesel, gasoline prices are artificially low, and raising them to reflect the cost of imported gasoline (and refining done outside Mexico) would only minimally affect inflation, and would free up a tremendous amount of capital for PEMEX.

I think el longhorn may have misread Carlsen, or she may have been careless, but it wasn’t so much a sinister plot that the previous four presidential administrations negelected PEMEX… it was just politically easier to ignore long-range problems and continue using the company as a revenue source.

Despite pressure from PAN — and some from PRI — I don’t think we will see PEMEX opened to foreign investment.  IF there are foreign contractors, I expect they’ll be from a state-owned company, like Norway’s Statsoil or Brazil’s Petrobrras, or even the Venezuelan-owned PDVSA… not Exxon-Mobile or Shell.  Or, possibly, PEMEX will RENT equipment.

Besides which, arguing about the future direction of a state oil company is not what a country does that is supposed to be in melt-down.

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