News and Analysis: April 2 - 15

1 - CONTROVERSIAL NGO VIDEO GOES VIRAL
2 - CALDERON VISITS CUBA
3 - OBAMA AND CALDERON EXCHANGE BARBS
4 - PEMEX SUES US-BASED OIL COMPANIES
5 - MSN PROGRAMS:  Email us here or call (773) 583-7728   

A video featuring children in the roles of drug dealer, hit man, kidnapper, corrupt police officer, more corrupt politician, migrant smuggler, and crime victim drew the ire of Mexico's political class, while delighting civil society. The non-government organization Nuestro Mexico del Futuro posted the professionally produced video on their YouTube site, then pulled it after a day, apparently under pressure from the very politicians who were the brunt of the criticism. But not before over 3 million people viewed it. Mexico's business community financed at least part of the production. The four-minute clip ends a ten-year-old girl calling out all four of the presidential candidates, "If this is the future that is awaiting me, I don't want it. Enough working for your political parties and not for us. Enough fixing the country from the very top. Time has run out. Mexico has hit bottom. Are [the politicians] only interested in the throne or will they change the future of the country?" [see more at LA TimesInformador]


2 - CALDERON VISITS CUBA
Lame duck President Felipe Calderon visited Cuba this week on the eve of the sixth Summit of the Americas, where Cuba's attendance is barred by the US. Despite often testy relations with Cuba, Calderon criticized the US embargo of the island, a move unlikely to win him points with his northern neighbor. Calderon was most likely motivated by domestic political considerations and economics, and emboldened by a political climate in Latin America that is increasingly open to strong relations with Cuba. Recent oil discoveries off the coast of Cuba could be attractive for Pemex, Mexico's national oil monopoly, which has some limited experience in deep water drilling. During the visit, Pemex signed a nonbinding letter of intent with the Cuban oil company Cupet. And in anticipation of July 1 presidential elections, Calderon may be patching up relations with Cuba, a country that still enjoys widespread admiration in Mexico for standing up to US imperialism. If relations warm, it would be a change from 12 years of PAN administrations. In 2002, Mexico supported, for the first time, a UN resolution condemning Cuba's human rights record - clearly a sop to gain favor with then President George Bush. Later in 2002, then President Vicente Fox famously insulted then President Fidel Castro with an invitation to "dine and go" before Bush arrived at a regional meeting of heads of state. In 2004, Mexico briefly withdrew its ambassador to Cuba and expelled Havana's envoy. But 2012 presents a different geopolitical calculus. During this weekend's Summit of the Americas, the presidents of Argentina and Bolivia walked out to protest lack of US support for a final statement that would have backed Argentina's sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands, claimed by England under the name Falkland Islands. Even Colombia, host of the summit and perhaps the closest US ally in the hemisphere, called for including Cuba in the next round of meetings, a position opposed only by the US.

3 - OBAMA AND CALDERON EXCHANGE BARBS
Cartel related violence in Mexico could spread to the US and harm US-Mexico relations, claimed President Barack Obama last Monday. President Calderon reminded Obama that the dual problems of drugs and weapons start on the northern side of the border. The exchange has clear domestic political overtones, as both countries approach national elections, but few real implications for bilateral relations. The exchange took place during trilateral trade meetings that included Canada.

4 - PEMEX SUES US-BASED OIL COMPANIES
Pemex, Mexico's national petroleum monopoly, filed a new lawsuit against six US energy companies for purchasing gas condensate stolen by cartels in the border state of Tamaulipas. The defendants include multinational giants ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell, Marathon and Sunoco. Pemex tried to add the companies to a two-year-old existing lawsuit but a federal judge in Houston refused. Pemex accused the companies of taking "possession of Mexico's sovereign property without right or title.  All defendants are therefore liable for their individual usurpation of Mexico's patrimony."   The black market sales of natural gas in the US cost Pemex at least US$300 million in recent years. In the first two months of 2012, Pemex reported losses of 589,344 barrels of hydrocarbons from national pipelines. The lawsuit claims that many companies were aware they were purchasing black market goods, while some were not, but should have been.

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