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U.S. makes promise

posted Sep 3, 2013, 5:24 AM by Baja King   [ updated Sep 3, 2013, 5:45 AM ]

Mexico blames Americans for arming the world's most powerful drug cartels, a complaint supported Friday by a U.S. government report that found nearly all of Mexico's escalating drug killings involved weapons from north of the border. President Felipe Calderon said his police and soldiers are dangerously outgunned because U.S. authorities are failing to stop the smuggling of high-powered weapons into Mexico. His attorney general called for more aggressive prosecutions of gun smugglers, saying that the U.S. constitutional right to bear arms doesn't protect them.
"The Second Amendment was not put there to arm foreign criminal groups," Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said. Calderon has complained for two years that the United States isn't carrying its weight in the cross-border drug war, despite the fact that U.S. drug users ultimately finance the cartels.


"I'm fighting corruption among Mexican authorities and risking everything to clean house, but I think a good cleaning is in order on the other side of the border," Calderon said. President Barack Obama's administration is beginning to respond. On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder promised to enforce a long-ignored ban on importing assault weapons, many of which are resold illegally and smuggled into Mexico to arm the cartels.Calderon applauded Holder's announcement as "the first time ... in many years that the American government is starting to show more commitment."
When the United States enforced the assault weapons ban, only 21% of the weapons Mexico seized from traffickers were assault rifles, Medina Mora said. Today, more than half are, and Mexican law enforcement officials are paying with their lives -- about 800 have been killed in the past two years. Drug-related killings claimed 6,290 lives last year in Mexico -- more than double the 2007 toll, and more than 1,000 have been killed so far this year, he added.
Both Calderon and his top prosecutor said the United States should aggressively enforce gun laws and pressure sellers to keep weapons in the hands of law-abiding citizens. Their complaints were supported by a U.S. State Department report Friday that weapons bought or stolen in the United States were used in 95% of the killings. The report also said cartels are increasingly carrying out contract killings inside the United States, part of a wave of violence that includes a sharp rise in kidnappings in Phoenix. Holder announced Wednesday that the Drug Enforcement Administration had rounded up 755 suspected Sinaloa cartel members and seized more than $59 million in drug money in the past 21 months.
Congress is paying attention, too. Lawmakers included $10 million in the economic stimulus package for Project Gunrunner, a federal crackdown on U.S. gun-trafficking networks. The Brookings Institution has estimated that 2,000 guns enter Mexico from the United States every day. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says more than 7,700 guns sold in the United States were traced to Mexico last year, up from 3,300 the year before and about 2,100 in 2006. Cartels turn to the United States because Mexico's gun laws are much stricter -- gun buys must be pre-pproved by the Mexican defense department and are limited to light weapons, no higher than the standard .38-caliber. Larger calibers are considered military weapons and are off-limits to civilians.
North of the border, cartel representatives often pay U.S. citizens to buy assault rifles for them at gun shows, where background checks aren't required and sales aren't easily traced. The cartels have found this weapons source so reliable that hit men simply toss expensive assault weapons aside while fleeing assassinations. Obama said during his campaign that he respects the Second Amendment but favors commonsense gun laws. Advocates on both sides of the U.S. gun control debate took that to mean he'll eventually endorse new limits on ownership of assault weapons and background checks at the gun shows. "We are taking some steps to do some things about it," said David Johnson, the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement.
Published on 3/1/2009 1:49 PM
 

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Mexico Business Forecast Report Q1 2009

posted Sep 3, 2013, 5:18 AM by Baja King   [ updated Sep 3, 2013, 5:19 AM ]

How Bad Will It Get?

In this Business Forecast Report we take a closer look at Mexico’s economic outlook in light of the turmoil in the global financial markets, continuing decline in global commodity prices, and what now appears to be a severe economic downturn in the US. We also look at how the government of President Felipe Calderón is preparing to deal with what is becoming a bleaker economic outlook for 2009, although we remain relatively confident that economic growth will regain momentum over the next couple of years to 3.9% by 2011.



From a political perspective, we examine how the left-wing opposition Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) appears to be declining in popularity, thanks largely to a resurgent Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI). With next July’s mid-term congressional fast approaching, we see a significant restructuring of congress as highly likely, and believe this could have important ramifications for BMI’s proprietary short-term political risk ratings for Mexico. With spiralling levels of violence showing no signs of abating in the near future, and the effects of a global credit crunch likely to hit Mexico, we believe security and the economy will be the key issues next July.



In a testimony to congress in September, Mexican Finance Minister Agustín Carstens admitted his concern about the recent performance of workers remittance inflows. He followed by stating that remittance incomes would probably fall by 7-8% in 2008 (equivalent to roughly US$2.5bn) as a direct result of the slowdown in US economic activity. We generally agree with Carstens’ concern about the negative impact of slower US growth on remittance flows. Indeed, in the first eight months of the year, remittance flows fell by 4.2% as a result of the poor performance of the US construction sector (the largest employer of Mexican overseas workers), which we see unlikely to improve at least until the latter stages of 2009.


In early October the government announced its revised budget for 2009, which was approved by the PRD as it promised a US$4.4bn boost to public spending. Part of this would be on a new oil refinery, something that the PRD’s previous presidential candidate, Andrés Manual López Obrador, proposed in his 2006 election campaign. While such a large increase in public spending, coming on top of an already ambitious infrastructure development plan, should help improve the country’s business environment, we are concerned at the pressure this will place on the fiscal coffers.


Post date: 2/20/2009
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