Friday, December 19, 2014

Today's headlines: * One elected official you should never lend your car to. * Whatever happened to fun in Acapulco? * While the world celebrates Obama's bold move, the U.S. Congress fumes. * Maybe it's time to re-think security strategy in Michoacán.

The five papers we follow here go with five different top stories today, not a rare occurrence among Mexico City-based dailies.  Reforma warns in its main headline that “Acapulco is experiencing a wave of violence,” citing a rise in violent crime over the last three months. It’s instructive to explore what “a rise in violent crime” actually means in this context; the Reforma story is helpful in this regard, noting that there have been 17 murders in the resort city just this week. This, of course, is not the kind of headline Acapulco’s tourism boosters want to see on the eve of the winter holidays. Also not helpful, according to Milenio’s No. 2 headline, is that “Airlines haven’t lowered prices of flights to Acapulco.”  Though fallen from favor among international tourists, Acapulco is still a top destination for vacationing Mexicans — or at least it was until the news out of its state of Guerrero turned so horrific. The plan was for the airlines to discount prices to offset the fear factor, but that apparently hasn’t happened, at least not to the satisfaction of the local tourism industry.

Milenio stays in Michoacán for its lead story, which you can’t see until you turn from the Telcel ad that covers the front page. “PRI ‘obligated’ to review its strategy in Michoacán” refers to comments that PRI party president César Camacho made during a promotional event for a new party book with the sobering title, “85 years of the PRI.” This week’s deadly shoot-out between rival self-defense groups makes it clear, Camacho said, that new strategies for restoring order in the state are needed. But, Camacho insisted, any such strategy will not include replacing commissioner Alfredo Castillo, who has full authority in Michoacán, and under whom violence has decreased. Milenio also reports that Hipólito Mora, who heads one of the participating gangs, insisted that members of the federal paramilitary forces called the Gendarmerie did not precipitate the shoot-out by firing first, contradicting comments made yesterday by his rival, El Americano. Nevertheless, Gendarmerie weapons are being investigated along with those of the two groups. Fifty arrests are expected. Yesterday the number was put at 65.

La Jornada follows up big on the Cuba-United States thaw with a number of stories under the umbrella head “Obama will seek to speed the changes agreed to with Cuba.” Jornada is a tabloid that rarely runs body text on its front page, so the myriad headlines work as a kind of table of contents. Its extensive coverage includes the following, as sub-headed on the front page: “We will block the agreements, anti-Castro [U.S.] legislators warn.” That threat surprises no one, but it may be offset by another angle the paper takes: “The White House chose rapprochement given the political turn in Miami.” In other words, the right-wing Cuban-American vote has been losing its impact, and that development influenced Obama’s decision to act now. Also, the New York Times reports, U.S. big business, the guys who bankroll the GOP, are drooling at the possibility of moving into a virtually virgin market. What’s more, the U.S. public is not against restoring relations. The “anti-Castro legislators” may ride their hatred (it’s really fear) of Obama to make trouble for a while,  but for how long? As Fidel himself liked to say in other contexts, they’re on the wrong side of history.

Excelsior leads with upbeat economic news, “A record for Banxico in foreign investment.” Banxico is a nickname for Banco de México, the nation’s central bank, and the story is that more government security holdings are in the hands of foreigners now than ever before, to the tune of a nifty 2.17 trillion pesos. That's considered a healthy sign.

Elected office in Mexico brings its privileges, but it has its down sides. One is that if you’re in an automobile accident, nobody asks if you’re all right. They want to know where you got the car. And sure enough, a day after it was reported that the head of the huge Iztapalapa delegación, or borough, in Mexico City, Jesús Valencia, was involved in a late-night crash, El Universal leads today with “Contractor provided auto to delegación head Valencia." The contractor in question is called Amerixe, which seems to be a jack-of-all-trades provider doing a lot of government work at all levels. The car in question is (or was; it’s pretty well smashed up) a bullet-proof Jeep Grand Cherokee. The implication of the article is that the car may have been a quid pro quo for contracts, but Valencia insists he was just borrowing it from a friend at Amerixe.

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