MEXICO NEWS AND ANALYSIS MAY 23-29, 2011

1 - NEWS FROM THE OTHER CAMPAIGN
2 - OBAMA TO NOMINATE MEXICO AMBASSADOR
3 - WTO RULES AGAINST U.S.
4 - NO TELEVISION STATIONS FOR CARLOS SLIM
5 - ARIZONA SHERIFF FACES IN-HOUSE CORRUPTION
6 - MEXICO DECRIMINALIZES UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRATION

1 - NEWS FROM THE OTHER CAMPAIGN 

  • At least 45 Marine troops threaten local activists in Matamoros for a sign in their car window that reads "NO MILITARES."  [link]
  • The People's Front denounces an attempted land takeover in Ecatepec in Mexico State. [link]
  • Residents of Cruzton, Chiapas, denounce attempted land takeovers. [link]
  • The Junta of Good Government in Oventic requests donations for the loss of homes and a medical center during a fire in the community of Pikote. [link

2 - OBAMA TO NOMINATE MEXICO AMBASSADOR 
President Barack Obama will nominate Earl Anthony Wayne, a career foreign service officer with little experience in Latin America, as the new ambassador to Mexico.  Wayne currently serves as Deputy Ambassador in Afghanistan, where he reportedly gained experience in "counter-terrorism" that some officials may find applicable to Mexico's rampant drug cartel problem.  His nomination comes as somewhat of a surprise as most experts expected the post in Mexico to languish until next year, after Carlos Pascual left under a cloud generated by unvarnished criticisms of Mexico's political class and security forces published by WikiLeaks.  The US Senate must approve the nomination. Wayne has more than 35 years in the foreign service and is considered a consummate insider with access to the highest levels of the State Department.

3 - WTO RULES AGAINST U.S.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled against US labeling regulations that require supermarket meat to show Country of Origin Labeling (COOL).  An interim ruling in the case, brought by Mexico and Canada, found the requirement acts as a trade barrier against foreign suppliers.  The interim ruling is expected to be published later this year without substantial changes.  The decision may spur a wide range of similar cases related to health and safety standards, consumer information and other "subtle" trade barriers that impact demand for imports through appeals to nationalist consumption patterns.

4 - NO TELEVISION STATIONS FOR CARLOS SLIM
Mexico ruled on Friday that Carlos Slim, the world's richest man, may not establish domestic cable television stations.  Slim's Telmex, which dominates Mexico's cellular and land line telephone markets, lost a bid to move into the lucrative "triple play" market - telephone, internet and television combined.  Slim is already the largest pay TV provider in Latin America, but at least for the time being, his dominance won't interfere with Mexico's current television duopoly - Televisa and TV Azteca.  In addition to telephones, Slim's empire includes real estate, mining and media, including a 9% share of the New York Times.  After suffering a series of fines, including US$1 billion levied by the Federal Competition Commission last month, look for Slim to back PRI and possibly PRD candidates in national elections in 2012.

5 - ARIZONA SHERIFF FACES IN-HOUSE CORRUPTION
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known internationally for his inhumane treatment of immigrants, found problems closer to home this week when three of his employees were arrested on drug and human trafficking charges.  A deputy and two detention officers were among 12 people arrested on Tuesday, while at least seven other sheriff's employees are under investigation. The arrested deputy, Ruben Navarette, was once assigned to Arpaio's human smuggling unit and received training as a federal immigration agent.  Arpaio chalked up the whole affair to "human nature."  He said, "In every organization you're going to find some people who do wrong."  Arpaio is currently facing a federal lawsuit for civil rights violations and racial profiling.

6 - MEXICO DECRIMINALIZES UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRATION
Under increasing pressure from Central American governments, President Felipe Calderon signed a law this week decriminalizing undocumented immigration and affording health and education services to migrants.  Calderon also promised to overhaul the notoriously corrupt federal immigration agency.  Nearly 200 immigration agents have been fired over the past year and more than 40 face legal cases for kidnapping undocumented immigrants passing though Mexico on their journey to the US.  The law calls for agents to undergo training and pass lie detector tests, drug exams, and psychological profiles.  The law also provides for a "humanitarian visa" for migrants who enter the country without papers.  However, the law may prove to be ineffective.  After years of abuse by immigration agents, undocumented immigrants are unlikely to approach government officials to denounce illegal practices.

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