Category Archives: Politics

All things to do with government: funny, sad, Kafka-esque.

How to Boost our Governors Sagging Popularity

In case you haven’t heard about it, our Yucatan governor Ivonne Ortega Pacheco suffered a reality check last weekend when she appeared in the ring prior to a boxing match between Elio Rojas and Guty Espadas Jr. in our Kukulkan stadium; she was roundly whistled at and booed by the 8000 fans there. Visibly shaken she left the podium and the newspapers have had a field day.

It seems that all that posing for photos with telenovela stars, visiting dignitaries and the like have shed light on the fact that she is doing precious little in the way of actual governing. Complaints are mounting about money being given out left and right to party cronies and the latest scandal is that she is cutting federal funds destined for the municipality of Merida, thereby forcing the cancellation of projects which were counting on that money. So far, she has lived in her bubble, as Mexican politicians do, unaware of what is really happening in the world outside the official one.

I humbly suggest that she could make a huge impact – a positive one – by repealing the hated tenencia tax on vehicles, which was passed from the federal government to each of the states to charge if they wanted. The state of Queretaro has led the way by announcing the cancellation of the tax (a temporary tax created to raise funds for the 1967 Mexico City Olympics), and if Ivonne were to do the same in Yucatan, she would gain a huge amount of goodwill and recoup some of the popularity she enjoyed when she was first elected.

What do you think? Could this work?

No More Tenencia?

For those of you who do not have the privilege of owning a vehicle in Mexico, this will be of little interest.

For those that do, you probably know it already: in Mexico we have to pay a tenencia, or tax just to own a car. This on top of all the other taxes that one must pay in Mexico, this great land where those that pay taxes (30% of the population) pay for the other 70% who either evade taxes completely – those at the top end of the economic spectrum with good fiscal lawyers – and those who are ‘too poor’  at the bottom, because ‘ay poooobres‘ the government and politicians feel sorry for them.  They don’t want to help them, educate, raise the minimum wage, whatever; but they do feel sorry for them. And so they don’t pay taxes either.

Once again I digress. I was talking about the tenencia.
In a nutshell, it is a tax that is based on the value of the car and decreases as the car ages. Implemented in the late 1960’s to pay for the Mexico City Olympics, it turned into such a cash cow that it never went away.

There has been talk about the tax being unconstitutional and the voices, during the 20 years I have lived here, have become louder and more strident; this tax is obsolete ie. the Olympics have been paid for many times over , it is unconstitutional and should be abolished for once and for all.

In the last presidential election campaign, Felipe Calderón promised to eliminate this tax. Today I received an email that explains that he has eliminated the tax at the federal level and has left it up to each state to decide whether or not they want to continue charging this tax. This is why, in a bold and rare move, the state government of Queretaro has eliminated the tenencia tax altogether. Finally, some good news!

So if you are here in the Yucatan and wondering why we pay this onerous tax, know that it is now in the hands of our governor, not Felipe Calderón.

More on the Canadian Visa

In my previous post I stated why I thought the Canadians finally clamped down on the Mexicans. I blamed all the Mexicans who took advantage of Canada’s relaxed immigration policies and ruined it for everyone.

Now it’s the Canadian governments turn.

Who is the Canadian Brain Surgeon/Rocket Scientist who came up with this idiotic, one-day-to-the-next policy that will affect not only hundred if not thousands of perfectly legit people who are planning to visit Canada and have already purchased flights, prepaid hotels and cruises? Not only that side of the coin, but all the cruise ships, hotels and restaurants as well as tourist attractions in Canada? This isn’t September, it’s the middle of the tourist season! What was this bureaucrat thinking? Was he thinking?

Even the US Government, when they issued their new proclamation regarding passport requirements for US citizens, had a timetable.

Canada has really dropped the ball on this one; another fabulous accomplishment for the cheesehead government of Steven Harper.

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For the conspiracy theorists…

Here’s a thought: CIA/FBI discovers an imminent attack on Canadian soil originating in Mexico; the CIA advised Canadas’ CSIS, who take it to Canada Immigration.

Immigration responded by immediately issuing a blanket visa requirement for all Mexicans, thereby thwarting the plot.

Everything is hush hush for now.

Just a thought…

Canada Requires Mexicans to Acquire Visa

There has been a lot of talk around town on the subject of the recent announcement by the government of Canada to require Mexicans entering Canada to have a visa. Some people understand this measure; others express indignation that those nasty Canadians would be so hostile towards Mexicans.

As a Canadian, my only observation is that Canada has finally woken up to the fact that there are a lot of Mexicans with a colmillo* the size of brontosaurus’ molar, that have been taking advantage of Canadian immigration policy for years and years.

To give you an example of the Canadians’ “innocence” and lack of real-world experience, take the Canadian passport application. I criticized this a while back. There is a section where you are required to get a personal reference from a professional person; the options are doctor, lawyer and policeman.

Policeman.

In Mexico.

I’m not trashing policemen but come on. This reflects the Canadians complete lack of colmillo.

There must be a zillion Mexicans who have taken advantage of Canada’s refugee and asylum policies to enter the country with a minimum of effort and at great expense to the Canadian taxpayer, who foots the bill for each and every investigation of these supposed ‘refugees’.

If Mexicans are to feel any animosity it should be towards their fellow Mexican huevones* who have screwed this up for them. Another nail in the coffin of the Mexican reputation abroad.

Surprisingly, since I expected a more PRD-ish outlash against the policy, a lot of Mexicans are actually in the same boat on this topic as I am. Have a look at the Universal newspaper website. Their article is very interesting in that it points out:

  • Mexican refugee applications from 2005-present, represent 25% of ALL international refugee applications
  • In 2008, there were 9400 applications, of which only 11% were proved to be valid

The reactions are in the comments, following the article. Interesting the amount of support shown there.

And to those who insist that the Mexican government should retaliate by applying visa requirements to Canadians, I just laugh. Are the Canadians and Americans coming to Mexico as ‘refugees’ and getting a check from Calderon each month? Are they lining up to take advantage of the fabulous social infrastructure (like the IMSS) ?

Didn’t think so.

It was about time Canada woke up, in my humble opinion.

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* Colmillo – the knack certain people have for determining where and how to make a situation work in their benefit, extracting the maximum advantage for them usually at the expense of the other party

* Huevones – derogative term for lazy people

Ley Seca means no Alcohol at Election Time

The Mexican government(s), in its’/their infinite wisdom, prohibits the sale of alcohol during elections and July 5th, when there will be elections for diputados (a political sub-species of popular representative that makes a huge salary and does precious little for those he or she is supposed to represent) is no exception.

The all-caring government doesn’t want the nasty populace having the opportunity to buy a beer on election day, in case it gets drunk and votes incorrectly. Or gets drunk and disorderly if the election results turn out not quite the aforementioned populace wants.

IMHO, a ridiculous and useless law since those who will want to be drinking during the voting process will have bought their alcohol prior to the cutoff date, July 4th.

It’s all part of the great simulation that we live in a “democracy”. Call me a cynic. My wife does. 🙂

Can I Run for Public Office? No.

If I could run for office, here are some of the ‘propuestas‘ I would run on.

Ecology/Conservation

As part of a plan to make Yucatan the most ecology-friendly state in the country:

  • An immediate ‘hold’ on all ongoing construction permits to review and if necessary, include, greater ‘green’ areas in all housing developments. A swing set and a palm tree on a minuscule corner lot do not a ‘park’ make, nor do they provide the beneficial temperature controlling effects of a larger, more generous ‘green’ area. All future construction permits subject to increased allocation of space to ‘green’ areas.
  • A real ‘reforestation’ campaign, emphasizing replanting of vegetation indigenous to the area. No more palm trees and grass. This is not Miami.
  • No more golf courses.
  • Increase the budget for inspection and control of all well and water drilling activity in the state. The water is being contaminated at an alarming rate and soon it will be useless.
  • Immediate implementation of a tax credit for all purchasers of hybrid vehicles.
  • Promote installation of plastic and glass recycling plants to reduce soda and beer bottle garbage, which is part of the landscape now. All soda and beer bottlers in the state must either offer a refund for their bottles, or pay a tax in lieu of. No exceptions. Out of state bottlers must pay tax which will be used to pay refund to the general public on bottles collected.
  • Invest in solar technology in order to have most state government buildings run by solar power by 2020.
  • Tax credits for homeowners who install solar or alternative energy in their homes.
  • Tax credits for homeowners who plant indigenous vegetation on their properties.

Taxation

  • Any and all Yucatan state taxes to be rolled into one flat tax.
  • Push for the federal IVA tax to be applied to everything, as well as pushing for a flat federal income tax.
  • Eliminate tenencia tax on autombile purchases for all hybrid and 4 cylinder models.
  • Increase vehicle tax on 6 cylinder models and a maximum tax on 8 cylinder models.
  • Tax credit (percentage based on vehicle purchase price, used or new) for purchases of hybrid vehicles.

How am I doing so far?

Elections in Yucatan!

Hooray for democracy!

Yucatecos and Yucatecas have, once again, the wonderful opportunity to exercise their hallowed democratic rights and obligations, and elect a diputado!

What the heck is a diputado, you might ask? It is said that the diputado is some kind of legislative political creature, that is supposed to represent the interests of the people in the district that voted for him or her. However, voting always along party lines, the diputado is about as representative of the people as a panucho would be representative of Swiss culture.

This time around, we have a few candidates to choose from according to the distrito to be ‘represented’. Today we will look at two: the PRI offers up Angelica and the PAN suggests former police chief Javier Medina.

A quick look at their websites (linked above) shows this casual observer that while the PAN continues its use of the traditional blue colors, the PRI has abandoned its green white and red colors to distance itself from its rather unpopular track record, while at the same time banking on that record and emphasizing it’s experience. OK. If you say so.

The PAN Javier website home page features a serious Javier making a speech, with carefully furrowed brows and much animated finger pointing and waving, indicating his experience and seriousness, while the PRI/PV home page loads up a video of a crowd of happy singing red-tshirt clad jovenes singing, clapping and dancing around Angelica in a kind of rapturous, can’t wait for the tortas and refrescos/I’m on TV!!/Michael Jackson We Are the World kind of way.

Oh and if you are wondering what this PV is about, it’s the Partido Verde Ecologista de Mexico (Green Party) who have allied themselves with the PRI. This is the most hypocritical of all political parties; if they have done one thing to protect the ecology or a blade of grass, I would be enormously surprised. I suspect the ‘green’ part refers to their political acumen, as in lack thereof.

As for their novel ideas, of which practically all sound very populistas, Javier’s sound a little more coherent, while Angelica stresses her ‘sensitivity to the needs of the family’ which begs the question “Whose family?” Yours? Mine? Hers, maybe? Neither of these candidates is saying “Yucatecos and Yucatecas, get off your butts and work” Probably not a real popular message.

Which brings me to the subject of how much the diputado makes in a year! According to El Semanario, in an article from 2008 (it’s probably increased by now) a diputado earned 77,888 pesos a month, along with another 45,786 to attend legislative sessions and 28,772 pesos to cover other activities. This makes a tidy little sum of $152446 pesos. A month. There is, on top of that, a savings program equal to 12% of their regular salary, medical coverage (you can bet they are not standing in line at the local IMSS (Importa Madres Su Salud) and an aguinaldo or Christmas bonus, equivalent to 40 days of salary.

No wonder they are so excited to ‘serve’ selflessly the needs of the population. And no wonder we have to pay more taxes!
Have a look at the candidates, their proposals and make up your mind. Imagine who you would vote for if you could vote. If you can, but don’t want to, you could try the Voto Blanco option, proposed by former elected officials now out of the running, who are now saying that the voting system is flawed and people should abstain from participating (in the system that elected them in the past) Sour grapes? Gee, ya think?

Have a great election season, enjoy the visual and audio pollution!

Viva la democracia!

Swine Flu Update – Who To Believe?

praying for some information

This morning’s Diario de Yucatan website states that there is one unconfirmed case of swine flu in the Yucatan. Great news, right? According to the story, they are awaiting the results of the tests from Mexico City. There’s no way to confirm this locally? Hmmm.

This same website has another article that reports on the efforts being made on Yucatan’s state borders, where people driving in from other states are checked with state of the art equipment that measure body temperature with a laser device. If anyone shows a high body temperature, they are pulled aside to have more samples taken right there and the testing will show right there if the person is infected with the swine flu virus. The test takes… TWO MINUTES.

This begs the obvious question: why, if the health authorities are able to detect the virus at a mobile lab set up on the highway in Coba, are they saying they need to wait for confirmation from Mexico City to determine whether or not the Merida case is positive? I would humbly suggest they send the sample to the Coba mobile highway lab and test it there – seems it would be a lot faster and more efficient, no?

Meanwhile, the federal government, in an update on the news, shows a list of states that have the infection – Yucatan is among them.

Meanwhile the malls are officially closed until May 6. But they are open, for the most part. So they are closed and open at the same time.

And those people who organized a party on Facebook which was broken up by the Health Police are, according to some sources 6 years in prison and/or fines. Talk about your overreactions.

Who to believe? Is there any wonder people are praying?