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Saturday, 2 April 2016

Protesters block access to Torex Gold’s Media Luna mine site in Guerrero, Mexico

At five in the morning on Thursday, March 31, members of the commission of communal property in Colula, Guerrero, blocked access to Torex Gold Resources’ (Torex) Media Luna mine site. As of this writing, it appears that the blockade continues.
Blockade at the Media Luna mine entrance (Milenio)

The protesters are from three surrounding communities, and have shut down access to the gold mine’s main entrance. They are alleging that during the initial exploration period the Canadian mining company had promised to pay compensation in excess of 500,000 pesos (C$37,500) to the surrounding towns. The company was also to make investments in social services.

The commission members argue that the mine is now well beyond the exploration stage, yet they have yet to see any compensation.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Goldcorp challenges Mexico's tax laws, and loses

A Mexican subsidiary of Canadian mining giant Goldcorp has been denied an injunction challenging the constitutionality of federal tax reforms that were brought into effect on January 1, 2014. The reforms established a special duty of 7.5 percent to net income on the disposal or sale of extraction activities, with an additional 0.5 percent tax on income from the sale of gold, silver and platinum.
Goldcorp's vision, values, and "six pillars".

The Goldcorp subsidiary, Minas de la Alta Pimeria, put forth an extraordinary challenge. According to Mexico’s Federal Judiciary Council (Consejo de la Judicatura Federal, or “CJF”), the mining company wanted to pay per unit of measure, and not by the value of gold extracted. In effect, it would pay the equivalent taxes on a kilo of coal as on a kilo of gold.

In its legal claim, the company stated that the “constituent does not have powers to establish these rights and added that the amounts are not proportional or equitable.” How Goldcorp felt it could challenge the powers of the federal government of Mexico to establish its own tax laws is hard to understand.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Heating up the plaza in Sinaloa

In the middle of the night on February 13, in the municipality of San Ignacio, Sinaloa, near the border with Durango, 13 people – eight men and five women – were gunned down. An additional three gunmen were killed in a shootout between armed groups on February 16 in Maloya, near Rosario, south of Mazatlán.
Shrine to Santa Muerte, near Sinaloa-Durango
border, southern Sinaloa.

Then, another five people were shot to death on February 21 in a bar in La Cruz de Elota, a town on the old Mazatlán - Culiacán highway – including a federal police officer, who died after he was transferred to a hospital in Mazatlán. The violence occurred during a concert at La Trova bar by the band Enigma Norteño. This may be a matter of “drunken idiots with guns”, and not cartel related, but it looks like people showed up for a fight.

Which is to say, things appear to be heating up in Sinaloa, particularly in the southern part of the state, which is no stranger to mass killings.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Mexico’s hope: from Mazatlán to Las Vegas with Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez

It’s a go. Gilberto Ramirez, the undefeated 24-year-old boxer from Mazatlán, Mexico, is set to challenge Arthur Abraham at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on April 9 for the super middleweight title. It won’t be easy: Abraham, an Armenian-German, is a formidable opponent. Technically skilled, he is tough, with a strong punch.

(UPDATE: The kid won in a unanimous decision!)
Gilberto Ramirez training in Mazatlan (Photo: Matt Mawson)

“Abraham is a good champion, a great champion,” Ramirez’s manager, Jesus Zapari, a heavy-set man with short-cropped gray hair, told me at his gym in Mazatlán before the team relocated to Los Angeles. “But we are going to have a new champion after April 9.”

It is clear that the boys from Mexico are serious contenders. At the gym in Mazatlán I watched as Ramirez – called “Zurdo” or “Lefty” – was taken around the ring with weights on his ankles by Jose Luis Cruz, a former world-ranked middleweight. Cruz was a solid opponent, but this was boxing school, not proper sparring. For that, the team needed to be Stateside.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Canada’s Liberals continue the TPP charade

When President Obama delivered his State of the Union address, he was clear: He supported the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and he wanted Congress to pass it.
Freeland and Trudeau: appearance is everything

Similarly, during last year’s federal election, Canada’s former Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, was unstinting in his support for the TPP. And the New Democratic Party's Thomas Mulcair made it clear that, given what he knew of the deal, he was unlikely to support it.

However, the Liberal Party of Canada, under leader Justin Trudeau, made the false claim during last fall’s election campaign that it knew too little about the TPP to pass judgment. The party was pro trade, but would need to look at the details.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Moreira arrest: a long tradition of corrupt Mexican governors

When Humberto Moreira, former governor of the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, was arrested at Madrid’s Barajas Airport on January 15 for alleged financial crimes, it was big news.

(Update: Moreira was released by a Spanish judge  on January 22 for lack of evidence, though ordered to surrender his passport.)

In Mexico, there was much handwringing. Here was the former leader of Mexico's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), a former close adviser of the current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, being detained in Spain on a request from the U.S. on suspicion of money laundering, embezzlement, bribery and criminal association.
Moreira: if Mexico won't, Spain and the US will

The anxiety, however, wasn’t that Moreira might be guilty of such crimes. It was that it was the Spanish in concert with the gringos who nailed the cabrón. In effect, these two external powers did what Mexico could not.

It was hardly news that Moreira’s behavior was suspect. After an investigation by two journalists, Moreira was accused in a U.S. court of money laundering and embezzlement. A state court in Texas heard how Moreira and other state officials took over $1.8 million from the Coahuila treasury and transferred them to a leader of the Los Zetas cartel to invest in radio stations.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

El Chapo Tried to Bribe Federales by Side of Highway

In the State of Sinaloa, Mexico, it is a tried and true tradition that when you are stopped by the side of the road, you can usually buy your way out of a jam. That corruption might have let El Chapo to get away yet again, but for the general chaos surrounding his capture.
Here we go again

After El Chapo escaped through a drain tunnel in the town of Los Mochis, he and his number one hitman, Orso Iván Gastélum, ‘El Cholo’, hijacked a vehicle. The alert was put out, and the vehicle was detained by federal police on a highway.

Here, things got dicey. Apparently, as soon as El Chapo was detained by the federal cops, the billionaire leader of the Sinaloa Cartel offered to take the officers to Juan José Ríos, Sinaloa. The roadside negotiations were intense. Guzmán started to offer some serious coin. From the side of the highway, he said he would set up the police officers with businesses and houses in Mexico and the United States, whereupon they could “forget about work for the rest of their lives.”