Investments in Baja Dropping Due to “Sempra Conflict”

The conflict with Energia Costa Azul, the Sempra subsidiary, has caused investments to be withdrawn from Baja California, said the Secretary of the Government, Cuauhtémoc Cardona Benavides.

In an interview, the state administrator said he did not want to dwell on the details, but he pointed out that the situation with Sempra Energy has created uncertainty among other domestic and international investors.

“There is a specific instance of which I do not want to give more details, to not complicate the situation, but it is prudent to mention that we are viewed with caution due to the problem with the municipal authorities in Ensenada,” he said.

Link to article in Spanish.

As Fulano blogged about here, this is why it is inadvisable for foreign companies to invest in Mexico. No matter how many permits you get, no matter how many approvals you receive, no matter how long you have been doing the same business from the same location, some little arrogant prick with a political agenda or his hand out for a bribe is going to try to screw you. SEMPRA, which operates the gas plant discussed below, has amparo’s from both state and federal courts. An amparo is a court order saying they are in compliance with the law and not to be interfered with unless a further order comes from the court. Yet the local mayor just ignores all that and orders the plant shut down, sending police to enforce his order. They just keep coming and coming. They never rest.


The Great Mexican Chicken Dumping Affair

That’s chicken dumping, not chicken dumpling.

The Mexican Secretariat of Economy (Economia) published a notice in the the Diario Oficial – Mexico’s official government organ – that it will begin an anti-dumping investigation on the import of certain US chicken products. Economia published the notice on behalf of Bachoco, the largest producer of chicken in Mexico, and two other smaller companies, Productores Avicolas de Tehuacan SA de CV (PATSA), and Buenaventura.

“We’re a bit surprised by this case,” said Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC). “The US and Mexican industries have a long history of cooperation. We look forward to resolving this case promptly.”

“We also find it quite interesting that Bachoco has brought these charges against our industry without the knowledge of the Mexican Poultry Producers Association (Union Nacional de Avicultores, or UNA), or many public officials in Mexico,” Sumner said. “In fact, UNA has said that the organisation does not support the anti-dumping investigation.”

Mexico was the top foreign buyer of U.S. chicken last year. Mexican imports of U.S. chicken surged 18 percent in the first 11 months of 2010 to 876.53 million pounds to displace Russia as the biggest buyer of U.S. chicken, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Question: How can food be be cheaper in Mexico if Mexico is importing so many chickens from the US? Mexico also imports a large portion of its feed grain from the US and feed grain is the largest cost component of the cost to raise a pound of chicken, over 66% of the cost.

Answer: Food is not cheaper in Mexico. American chicken producers pay their Mexican employees on this side of the border 14 times more per hour than what Mexican chicken producers pay their Mexican employees. Furthermore, American chicken producers receive no government subsidies, and yet they can still produce chicken cheaper than the Mexicans, which is why they are crying like stuck pigs about chicken dumpling…er..dumping.

…and in other chicken news…

Tyson to pay $5.2M to settle Mexico payment claims

The Associated Press
Thursday, February 10, 2011; 1:57 PM
NEW YORK — Meat producer Tyson Foods Inc. is paying $5.2 million to settle with the U.S. government over claims that its Mexican poultry subsidiary made payoffs to get products certified for export.

Tyson says it voluntarily reported that improper payments of more than $100,000 were made by Tyson de Mexico to two Mexican government veterinarians who certified chicken products for export in 2007. The government found the payments violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Tyson is signing a deferred prosecution agreement and will pay $4 million to the Department of Justice and another $1.2 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Tyson says it has strengthened its compliance program with anti-bribery laws and will report its efforts to the government for two years.

Link to article.

OK, let’s see if we can follow along with all this. Mexico is suing US chicken producers because they can sell US produced chickens in Mexico for less than domestic Mexican chicken producers can afford to charge. Meanwhile, a Mexican chicken producer paid bribes to certify unfit chicken for export. I wonder TO WHERE they were exporting that chicken?


Mexican Holiday Ends In Arrest of Canadian

A B.C. politician and her husband have become the latest in a high-profile string of Canadians to run into trouble in Mexico.

Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA Diane Thorne and her spouse, Neil Edmondson, visited Mexico earlier this month for a vacation, as they had a dozen times before.

Ms. Thorne said that on Jan. 10, the couple were driving with two friends in the port city of Progreso when two motorcycles struck their rented car.

Mr. Edmondson, who was driving, was arrested and jailed.

“My husband said it was the worst thing that ever happened to him in his life,” Ms. Thorne said in an interview on Friday.

At first, Ms. Thorne said there was no reason to believe the accident was anything sinister. The motorcycles had tried to pass while the vehicle was turning left and slammed into the side of the car.

One of the drivers and his passenger quickly left the scene. The driver of the other motorcycle and his passenger appeared to be okay, Ms. Thorne said.

Police and ambulance arrived within minutes. A woman who saw the collision came out of her home to say Mr. Edmondson wasn’t to blame.

“‘It’s not your fault, it’s not your fault; kids always do that, they go up on the wrong side to pass,’” Ms. Thorne recalled the witness saying.

Ms. Thorne’s party were having difficulty communicating with police at the scene, and a stranger offered to translate. The man went to the police station with Mr. Edmondson. Ms. Thorne was told she couldn’t come along, but wasn’t given a reason.

Ms. Thorne and her friends returned to their hotel and waited for a few hours. When they didn’t hear anything, they had the hotel owner contact police.

“He was pretty shaken up,” Ms. Thorne said of Mr. Edmondson. He was sitting in a small interrogation room and, on his way into the station, had seen a man in handcuffs on the floor with a gun pointed at him, she said.

Mr. Edmondson – who has severe asthma and has had several strokes – was escorted to the bathroom by armed policemen once during the incident, and was not offered any food or water.

Police told Ms. Thorne and her husband it would be three days before he could appear before a judge. Or, she said, they could pay a fine and leave that day. The $1,500 apparently covered injuries to the motorcycle driver, money the translator claimed he had already paid to police, and an impound fee.

Ms. Thorne said it appears she and her husband may have been fleeced. [Fulano’s Note: Fleeced? Really? You think?]

Link to article.


U.S. union leader jailed in Mexico for supporting Sonora miners

Manny in Mexican jail400x27
Photo: Cell phone photo of Armenta in Sonora jail, taken by a union lawyer.

The United Steelworkers has condemned the Jan. 24 arrest of Manny Armenta, one of its international representatives, by customs officials in the northern Mexican state of Sonora.
Armenta, a USW sub-district director in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was arrested while on his way to meet with attorneys for Los Mineros, the Mexican Mineworkers Union.
USW International Affairs Director, Ben Davis, told the Peoples World, Jan. 27, that the union has been supporting the Mexican mineworkers who have conducted a four-year strike against Grupo Mexico, owner of a copper mine at Cananea, Sonora.
The nightmare began for Artmenta at about 2 p.m. (MST) when a customs officer, accused him of driving a stolen car. Armenta, according to Davis, showed the officer documentation proving that his vehicle was legally leased by the union.
The officers ignored the documentation and proceeded to use dogs to search the vehicle.
When the search turned up nothing they demanded Armenta pay a fine of $15,000 on the spot. When he refused to pay the “fine” he was arrested and jailed overnight and released Jan. 25 only after posting a bond of $7,750.
Davis also said the police impounded the car and are still holding it. They returned Armenta’s wallet minus the $700 in cash he was carrying.
Davis said it was clear the authorities are looking for ways to harass the union for the fund raising and political backing it gives to the Mexican miners.
He explained that Armenta’s entire trip was well within the sections of Sonora that are regularly traveled by many Americans and clearly marked off on maps that indicate where drivers are exempt from regulations that require special registrations when they go further than 20 miles into Mexico.
He said that leaders of the Mexican mining industry are not happy about the solidarity and cooperation that has developed between miners there and their U.S. counterparts.
Earlier this month, on Jan. 17, Mexican mineworker leaders joined USW copper miners who work for Asarco, a copper producer near Tucson, Arizona, that is also owned by Grupo Mexico, the Mexican company.
The U.S. workers were holding a “sound-off” to which they had invited their Mexican counterparts. The contract with Asarco in Arizona expires in June.
“By arresting Manny, the Mexican government is trying to intimidate the USW copper miners from exercising our right to collective bargaining here at home and showing solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Mexico,” said Leo Gerard. President of the USW.
“This outrageous treatment by Mexican federal authorities shows the extent of the government’s corruption,” Gerard said, adding, “We demand that these bogus charges be dropped with the immediate return of the union property along with what belongs to Manny.”
Gerard said the speed with which Mexican officials arrested and jailed the U.S. labor leader was “ironic.”
“The Mexican courts have issued 20 warrants for German Larrea, the owner of Grupo Mexico but the government has never been able to arrest him. Yet they can arrest Manny because he is in Mexico helping the mineworkers defend their rights.”
The USW says it will file a formal complaint with the U.S. State Department.
On the day of Armenta’s arrest U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Mexico in support of that country’s law enforcement actions on illegal drug activity.
“I hope the U.S. State Department will put as much energy into seeking justice for Manny and for the rights of workers at Cananea as they have in praising the Mexican government,” Gerard said.

Europe Warns: Acapulco Is High Risk

ACAPULCO, Guerrero (SUN) – The murders reported in Mexico in the early days of this year, specifically the crimes taking place in Acapulco, reactivated alerts abroad on violence in the country.

In messages sent on the risks of traveling into Mexico, the United Kingdom highlights the 15 beheadings perpetrated last January 8, while Germany, Italy and Canada also include Acapulco in their map of risks linked to violence connected to organized crime.

Foreign ministries of those nations issued their warnings during the last week, with the exception of Canada, which launched its alert in late December, which alerts point out the deterioration of security in Mexico, some governments even describe the situation as serious and growing.

The foreign perception of insecurity in Mexico coincides with the federal government’s recognition that 2010 was the most violent year, with over 15,000 executions, amounting to 34,000 during the term of President Felipe Calderón.

During the 22nd Meeting of Ambassadors and Consuls of Mexico, held last week, Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa instructed the diplomatic missions abroad to redouble their efforts to spread the vision of a country that is bigger than its problems.

However, foreign governments have their own analysis. On January 11, the UK Foreign Office distributed a warning message to its citizens and presented a state-by-state analysis which indicates that “drug-related violence in Mexico is increasing,” and is a particular problem in Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Sonora, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Durango, Baja California, Michoacan, Morelos and Guerrero.

The analysis reports that just “between Janaury 8th and 9th, 26 people were killed in Acapulco due to drug violence, including 15 youths whose headless bodies were dumped outside a shopping center in Llano Largo, away from the central tourist area”. In Guerrero, it was reiterated, “there remains a high level of drug-related killings and violence occuring in Acapulco.”

Also reported was that in several areas there “has been a recent increase in the number of crimes, murders and shootings related to the drug war.” It describes as “serious violence” that which exists in some regions such as Ciudad Juarez, where people are requested not to do any nonessential travel due to the escalation of executions, and that “foreigners have been victims of violent incidents.”

Link to article in Spanish.


From Another Mexico Message Board

UPS story:
I decided to try the new UPS service to Mexico. It was a disaster. Cost for a 8 lb. Package from Reno NV to Los Barriles was $158. I received instructions from LB office and passed it on to Reno. Package was stopped at Border and would not allow through. In package was a Water Pic, test strips for my diabetic tester, (still need) and some home made CD’s.

My friend in Reno and I spent many hours writing letters and on the phone, for 2 1/2 weeks. In TJ Customs gave us many excuses about rules and UPS wanted another $85.00 to return it to Reno. Juan Rochin, the manager at LB UPS was very helpful and made many calls from his office. My friend, in Reno, finally gave up and the package is still in TJ. Total investment $350 lost. What a hassle.
Michael Babcock

Remember the mantra: Mexico is cheaper, Mexico is cheaper, Mexico is…..


There’s Something About Ray – Part 2

Continued from Part 1….

Pierce’s revenge

Pierce flew to La Paz and spoke to his lawyer. The lawyer happened to know a commandant with the Baja Sur state police and he set up a meeting with him and Pierce in La Paz the next day. Pierce met the state police commandant at his lawyer’s office and told him the story of Ray Lima. The policeman smiled and told Pierce that business in Mexico is all about whom you know and who gets his palms greased. Pierce had already anticipated his answer. Pierce took out $1,000 and handed it to his lawyer in front of the commandant for setting up the meeting. The commandant’s eyes grew large, and Pierce asked him if he wanted to do some business.

The police officer nodded. Pierce asked if he would travel to Mulege, along with some other police officers. The commandant said he could but it would cost. Pierce handed him $2,500 and said when they were done there would be another $2,500 for him. Pierce made arrangement to meet the commandant in Mulege the following week and headed back to Mulege.

Back in Mulege, Pierce immediately went to work. He went downtown and found an old bar that was part of the Hacienda Hotel, which had been closed for years. It needed work, but was a perfect location for a restaurant bar. Pierce signed a three-year lease and hired the building owner’s nephew and a crew to rebuild the place. Pierce signed a deal with Tecate beer to supply all the beer, as Tecate had no presence in Mulege.

Through his lawyer, Pierce got an FM3 with a right to work for $500. The next week, Pierce, his lawyer, the state police commandant and two more policemen went to the Mulege police station. There they confronted the local police chief who had sat at the table with Ray. The commandant asked the Mulege police chief if it was standard practice to rip off his good friends. The Mulege police chief, now on the defensive, called in his underlings and proceeded to blame it all on them. The commandant allowed the police chief this ruse to save face. Then everybody drove out to Ray’s to straighten it all out.

Pierce, his lawyer, the Mulege police and the state police all arrived at Ray’s when it was packed for lunch. Ray Lima panicked, said it had all been a big misunderstanding and asked what he could do to make it right. The police told Ray to return Pierce’s deposit and all the kayaks and boats and to never bother him again, or they would be back. Pierce showed up at Rays the next day and Ray gave him all the money in cash. Ray kept saying he was sorry and all Pierce had to do was talk to him.

Pelican Reef

The building of Pierce’s new bar was almost complete and the town was buzzing that a gringo was opening up a bar and grill. He decided to call it Pelican Reef, named after the reef off of Santispac. Tecate paid for a complete painting inside and out. Pierce needed some staff and he needed them fast, as he intended to open in a month. Ray Lima had a young American professional chef, named Scotty, working in his kitchen. Pierce knew from talks with Scotty that he was disenchanted with working for Ray, but Scotty refused to say why.

The Pelican reef

Pierce met Scotty at his house and made him a deal. Scotty would have a 20% ownership of the bar and needed to start the next day to help find bartenders and other help. Scotty  jumped at the deal. Within a week, Scotty had hired all of Ray Lima’s staff, and some from the other bars in town. Typical of Mexico, the local people of Mulege had been getting very low wages. At the time, they were getting on average $35 a week. Pierce gave all his staff a raise to $95 per week and had them group their tips for a fair spilt. He ordered two big screen TV’s from La Paz and made arrangements for a dual satellite hook-up for all the sports programs. Pierce had visualized the Pelican Reef as an American bar in Mexico. It would have authentic wings, steaks and Texmex food. The Pelican Reef opened with great fanfare and was busy from day one and was an instant hit.

The dirty little secret

As the operations of the bar settled down, and Scotty became more comfortable, he finally told Pierce what had freaked him out about Ray Lima. One morning, Scotty had walked in on Ray at Ray’s house at a time when Fabiola was out of town. Scotty had caught Ray Lima in bed with a young boy of about 10-years of age. Ray begged Scotty to keep quiet about it and promised him cash, women or whatever he wanted. Scotty then found out that there were a group of men in Mulege who traded these children around. Mulege was swarming with pedophiles.

Ray Lima


Satire From The Onion

If you’ve never read The Onion, you are really missing out on some witty satire.

They did a satirical send-up of the drug violence in Mexico, complete with pictures and charts. Needless to say, the Mexicans were not impressed. The story goes that a battle between two rival drug cartels ended up with all 111 million Mexicans dead. Follow the link above for the story.


Major Expansion of the San Ysidro Border Crossing

There is a major expansion of the San Ysidro border crossing with Mexico getting underway. It won’t be finished until 2016. Some of the highlights are:

  • Northbound traffic lanes will be increased from 24 to 36.
  • There will be two-way pedestrian traffic on both sides of I-5
  • The Southbound lanes into Mexico will be increased from 6 to 12.

Some of the lowlights are:

  • The U.S. is installing a permanent Southbound inspection area, with a secondary review area just before you enter Mexico. So you can expect miles of traffic back-ups on I-5 during rush hours.
  • The Southbound traffic is being moved about 100 yards West of the current location. It looks like they will have to demolish that entire shopping plaza just West of the current entrance.

Source: San Diego Union Tribune

A Simple American Pleasure

There are several posters on BajaNomads who live full-time in Baja. Some operate businesses there that depend upon American and Canadian tourists. Since it is free to post on BajaNomads, and normal advertising can be expensive, they “mooch” as much free advertising as they can. They usually post some very thinly veiled message, such as a picture of a fish when somebody catches a fish, a plate of tacos, and countless pictures of sunrises, sunsets and dogs on the beach. The worded message usually revolves around the simple pleasures of Baja.

Fulano thought it might be a nice idea to show some simple American pleasures. Many of these are so common and ordinary, we just them take for granted and we fail to realize they are usually not available in Baja.

A postal service that delivers mail and packages to your door.
A fully-equipped emergency room with trained doctors 24/7.
Trained, professional, uncorrupted police force.

A fully functioning judicial system with the rule of law.
Supermarkets with cheaper food and wider selections.
Air conditioning at affordable power rates.
Movies theaters in most towns and cities.
Live stage productions.
Philharmonic orchestras.
You can travel the whole country without a passport or visa.
You can fly the American flag (illegal in Mexico.)
You can exercise your right to protest (illegal for Americans in Mexico.)

You can travel all over the US without ever going
through a military checkpoint with somebody pointing an
automatic rifle at you.
You can go to the bank without walking around hooded men with
automatic rifles.
You can go to the hospital without passing by armed police guarding
the entrance.
You can even go to the city morgue without passing through armed guards.

You can go shopping at the Costco in Chula Vista without
waiting in line three hours at the border.
You can even come back home with your food
without going through a customs inspection.
You can get a fish taco from a stand with a health inspection,
 restroom and hot and cold running water.
You can go fishing in either fresh water or salt water, and the license is cheaper.
You can visit wide open spaces, just like in Baja.

The Sun also sets over the ocean in the US and dogs also run
on the beaches in the US.