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Mexico is Latin American winner as Brazil spirals

It’s a tale of two economies for Latin America’s two largest countries.

Brazil is in a political crisis and severe recession. Its president, Dilma Rousseff, could be impeached this year. Brazil’s debt has also been downgraded to junk status.  Meanwhile, Mexico is growing, politics are relatively stable and its debt was upgraded in 2014.  “Right now Mexico and Brazil are as different as they come, this is day and night,” says Alberto Ramos, head of Latin America economic research at Goldman Sachs. 

Those diverging narratives bore out Friday. Officials in Brazil announced that unemployment hit nearly 11% in the three months ending in March, way up from about 8% a year ago. Mexico’s unemployment rate is 3.7%.  Mexico’s economy grew 2.7% between January and March compared to a year ago, according to government figures released Friday. That’s even slightly better than what most economists expected.  That’s not stellar growth but it’s a lot better than Brazil’s economy, which shrank 3.8% in the fourth quarter last year and its central bank estimates the economy will contract 3.5% this year.  Related: Venezuela announces 2-day work week 

Experts say this divergence between Latin America’s two top players results from two very different strategies: populist policies with lots of public spending versus economic reforms, spending cuts and a diverse economy.  Rousseff and her like-minded predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, have greatly increased public spending since 2002 to bring millions of Brazilians out of poverty. By 2010, their populist policies vaulted both leaders to victory and soaring popularity.  It was a feasible strategy in the 2000s because Latin America benefited from a boom in commodity prices and seemingly insatiable demand from China.  Brazil’s dependence on China increased greatly during the Lula and Rousseff administrations.

In 2003, Brazil’s exports to China were worth about $4 billion. By 2013, that figured ballooned to $46 billion, according to IMF data.  China’s slowdown now spells bad news for Brazil. The value of its exports there has declined in the last two years, along with Brazil’s growth prospects. But even as the economy turns south, Rousseff has refused to tighten the belt and cut down public spending.  Related: Brazil’s recession worse than feared  On top of rising unemployment, consumer confidence has plummeted and inflation rose nearly double digits last month. Much of Brazil’s political crisis stems from the recession and massive bribery scandal at the state-run oil company, Petrobras, which has ensnared many of the country’s top business and political personalities.  “When commodity prices were booming, Brazil did not diversify…Mexico has a more diversified economy,” says Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman. 

In February, Mexican officials announced they would trim costs at the country’s state-run oil company Pemex, and hope to offer more of its oil fields to foreign, private investors.  Mexico’s economy also isn’t as tied to commodities like oil as Brazil. Mexico has a robust manufacturing sector — something that’s come under scrutiny from presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Mexico’s economic fate is more tied to the U.S. than China because of stronger trade ties.  Related: Brazil recession: ‘I’ve never seen anything like this’ 

This is not to say Mexico is free of problems. Like many developing countries, growth in Mexico has slowed in recent years amid the global economic downturn. In recent months its manufacturing sector and oil exports have both declined.  President Enrique Pena Nieto is also facing a wave of criticism over a report regarding 43 missing students in Mexico who are believed to have been murdered. The report, published Sunday by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, criticized the government for its lack of cooperation during the investigation. Pena Nieto’s popularity has declined in recent months too. 

A recent explosion at a Pemex chemical plant killed 28 people and it’s raised questions about safety at the government-run facility.  Despite the tragedies, Mexico is a much more stable country than Brazil currently, experts say.  “There is a big difference between the two of them,” says Chandler.

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Puerto Vallarta Bug Season: The Mighty Mosquito


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In the Spring and Summer months, it’s highly recommended that Vallarta visitors spray ankles before venturing to the beach for sunset vistas. It’s a particularly opportunistic time for feasting insects.

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico – We have found it astonishing how a tiny insect can cause so much misery and woe. Loss of sleep at night from real or imagined humming in the space around one’s head or house can sound like a jet landing on the rooftop when one is tired and in need of rest.

Mosquitoes are not to be taken lightly when staying in the vicinity of the jungle in Puerto Vallarta. One chooses to holiday in paradise but one must realize there are often caveats in heaven. We can name very few but we are completely aware of the mosquito’s existence being one of them. Besides robbing the contented of nightly respite from busy daytime activities, such as working one’s tan and flagging down waiters for another margarita, these little menacing creatures have potential to do more than make one itch.

 

In the meantime, it’s highly recommended that visitors spray ankles when venturing to the beach for sunset vistas. It’s a particularly opportunistic time for feasting insects. There are many brands and varieties for preparation available in the local pharmacies in Puerto Vallarta, with and without the poisonous ingredient DEET. We are inclined to use the strongest repellant offered and recommend whatever the locals buy over the counter; remedies for local quandaries, DEET, or no DEET.

Breakfast on the terrace before the sun is at full tilt is also a good time to use added protection, and we insist on long sleeves, full length pants and closed-toed shoes for hiking through the thickets. Bites can be avoided. The pests are a part of daily living, especially during rainy months.

There is much discussion regarding the Zika virus but our research has revealed there is no immense cause for alarm in Puerto Vallarta. There have been very few cases reported in all of Mexico, one in the state of Jalisco, and it is undetermined if that person was stricken in Puerto Vallarta or elsewhere. All other cases are from Mexican nationals living in rural areas, far from popular tourist destinations.

Mosquito bites can, however, cause great discomfort, just as sunburn, and the two combined can ruin an otherwise splendid vacation in Vallarta. Our advice is to avoid both. According to what we have discovered, apply sunscreen first and then spray repellent to afford excellent protection.

Locals are known in the summer months to lather their bodies in an olive oil/garlic/lemon mixture, in which the insects simply drown or suffocate. Smelling like an Italian restaurant in Puerto Vallarta can be a draw for some but our preference is to use the tried and true products that can be purchased from any local pharmacy.

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GET READY for the mighty Mexico 1000

xyzOld cars, epic scenery and an emphasis on fun, TG’s flown to Mexico to experience it

You join us in Ensenada, Mexico. Where, tomorrow morning, 200-ish cars, trucks, buggies, truggies, UTVs, bikes and pretty much anything else that wants to scramble over Baja’s boulderous terrain will point their wheels southbound and blast down the peninsula.

But this isn’t the famously unforgiving Baja 1000. We’ve been there and done that. It hurt. And those deep-tissue scars have only just healed. So this time we’re taking it a bit easier, by covering a potential hidden gem of the motorsport world: the NORRA Mexico 1000.

The Mexico 1000 was actually the original race down Baja. Conceived by a chap named Ed Pearlman back in the late Sixties, he wanted to show that four wheels were better than two at smashing it from the tip to the toe of this estranged finger of land.

In 1967, Ed set up the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA) in order to sanction a race that allowed him and 60 of his mates to race from Ensenada to La Paz.  There was one stipulation: each entrant had to throw one hundred bucks into a pot to be spent on the mother of all parties at the finish.

This happened annually for a few years, until SCORE (another race organiser), took control of the event in 1973 and made it into what we now call the Baja 1000.

As we found out, the Baja 1000 is now a very serious event. With around 1.5 million coming out to watch it, it’s the biggest single sporting event in the country. The racing is also incredibly cutthroat – which can be a fun sponge of sorts.

See, chasing every last tenth, beefing with other competitors and trying to sniff out cheaters can take the enjoyment out of off-roading. That’s why in 2010, Mike Pearlman – son of Ed – put some sticky defibrillator pads on his Dad’s NORRA Mexico 1000 and brought it back to life.

He had one goal: fun. So instead of being a flat-out point-to-point race, the NORRA breaks the 1,400-mile route up into four legs in order to celebrate the history of off-roading.

It starts in Ensenada, before snaking to Bahiah De Los Angeles, down the east coast to Loreto, on to La Paz before the chequered flag and kazoos come out at San Jose Del Cabo. It’s still against the clock, and there’s silverware to be won, but not in such a fighty way as its other Baja brother. Plus, at the end of each stage there’s a massive party. Just like old times.

The four-wheeled entry list is also pretty spectacular. Being more affordable than most races, and with a spectrum of cars that spans half a century, there’s a proper mish-mash of awesome machinery duking it out against Mexico’s maddest rough stuff. We’ll give you a full guide to all the cars tomorrow, so pop back when you can.

For the event, we’re chasing the nomex coattails of the Gentlemen’s Guide To Racing. They’re a team of racers that’s spearheaded by two Brits and are going about racing the right way.

They’re trying to redefine what it means to be a modern day gentleman racer, while inspiring people from all backgrounds to go out and get behind the wheel of competitive cars – all while having a laugh doing it. It sounds right up our street. So once we’ve been initiated properly (which may or may not include tequila), we’ll bring you their full story.

For now, we’ll keep you guessing as to what they’ll be racing. Let’s just say it’s proper. And if all the official paperwork goes through, we’ll be riding shotgun at points – chowing down on nothing but dust and in charge of god knows how many radio channels and an utterly befuddling sat nav system.

So stay tuned for updates from the road. We’ll try our best to keep you in the loop as to what’s going on over the first few stages, but bear with us, as the desert isn’t known for its 4G signal strength and things are known to get a bit crazy around here. Wish us luck!

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How monarch butterflies’ compass is wired for Canada-Mexico migration

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Researchers decipher how monarch’s brain circuit uses signals from its eyes and ‘clock’ in antennae

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How do you build a biological compass small and reliable enough to direct a monarch butterfly on its amazing 4,500-kilometre migration from Canada to Mexico each fall? Scientists say they think they’ve figured that out.

Researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Massachusetts say they’ve figured out the details of how the monarch’s compass is wired within its brain. They published their results in the journal Cell Reports this week.

A monarch butterfly gathers pollen from a flower at Dillingham Garden in Enid, Okla., during its annual migration to Mexico. Monarchs fly up to 4,500 kilometres from Canada to Mexico each fall. (Billy Hefton/Enid News & Eagle/AP)

Canadian scientists had previously shown that monarchs navigate using nothing but a built-in compass calibrated to the sun’s position in the sky at different times of day — no magnet required.

Canadian scientists had previously shown that monarchs navigate using nothing but a built-in compass calibrated to the sun’s position in the sky at different times of the day — no magnet required. (University of Washington)

Eli Shlizerman, an assistant professor in applied mathematics and electrical engineering at the University of Washington, wanted to know the biological details.

“We wanted to understand how the monarch is processing these different types of information to yield this constant behaviour — flying southwest each fall,” he said.

The first step is monitoring the sun’s position in the sky, something the monarch obviously does with its eyes. The second step is to match that up with the time of day in order to figure out which direction is southwest — something the monarch does with its antennae.

m mapSteven Reppert, neurobiologist at a University of Massachussetts who co-authored the paper, showed that by recording signals from the nerves in the monarchs’ antennae as they transmitted those to the brain.

Using that information, Shlizerman figured out the layout of a brain circuit that could use those signals to control the butterfly’s direction. He tested the model by simulating what would happen if a monarch had to go off-course because of a gust of wind or an obstacle.

Canadian-born monarch butterflies gather by the millions each winter at about 10 specific sites in Mexico. (Jessica Linton/University of Guelph)

m2He found that it produced a path that was consistent with what monarchs actually do — they often take a long, meandering route to get back on course. Shlizerman’s model predicts that way the navigation system is wired in the butterfly’s brain makes it impossible to do a shorter turn.

The circuit’s design also makes it easy for monarchs to reverse direction and fly northeast each spring. It takes them four generations to make it back to Canada from Mexico.

However, the researchers say that additional studies are still needed to confirm whether the model is really consistent with how the monarch’s brain, body and behaviour actually work.

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Mexico Promotes Clean Energy with First Power Auction after 2013 Overhaul

windmills mexicoMEXICO CITY – Mexico’s government awarded 18 solar and wind projects in its first electricity auction under a recent energy sector overhaul, a bidding round that is to generate $2.6 billion in total investment.

The 11 winning bidders won contracts to build 12 solar plants and six wind farms and the rights to supply a combined 5,402.8 gigawatt-hours of renewable electricity annually over 15 years to state-owned electric utility CFE, the sole buyer in this initial private auction after the broad 2013 energy reform.

Among other things, that overhaul opened up Mexico’s electricity system, which previously had been almost entirely owned and operated by the CFE.

Those 18 projects also were awarded a total of 5.38 million Clean Energy Certificates, or CELs, per year. Under Mexican law, CELs are issued for each megawatt-hour of electricity that is generated without using fossil fuels.

“It’s 2 percent of total (electricity) generation, a figure that may seem small for a process of this magnitude, but it’s important for the system because it’s clean energy,” Deputy Electricity Secretary Cesar Emiliano Hernandez said.

Initially, the organizers of the auction had said Tuesday that 11 projects were awarded to seven different companies. But on Wednesday, they provided the new total, blaming the discrepancy on a flawed bid by one participant and the need to evaluate other proposals.

With this initial auction of long-term contracts to supply electricity to the CFE, Mexico aims to make strides toward its pledge to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2030.

“The private projects will help diversify the clean energy portfolio so that by 2024 35 percent of the country’s energy” comes from renewables, said the CFE’s director general, Enrique Ochoa.

The projects awarded to domestic and foreign companies are spread out over seven states: Guanajuato, Coahuila, Yucatan, Jalisco, Tamaulipas, Aguascalientes and Baja California Sur.

“They are located in areas with notably high energy costs, such as the Baja California Peninsula and Yucatan Peninsula,” Hernandez said, adding that around 85 percent of the electricity supply contracts and clean energy certificates on offer were awarded and that the prices are “very competitive by international standards.”

The winning bidders included companies from the United States, China, Italy and Spain, while the projects are expected to come online starting March 28, 2018, and provide “the system with cleaner and cheaper energy,” Hernandez said.

The 18 renewable projects are expected to be built at a combined investment cost of $2.6 billion, Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquin Coldwell said.


Berry Fever in Michoacan, Jalisco and Baja California

Michoacan, Baja California, and Jalisco are the main producers of berries in the country, as they account for 85 percent of the domestic production’s value. The main export destination is the United States.

Jalisco, Mexico – A new berry fever has attracted the interest of farmers in Michoacan, Jalisco, and Baja California, which began growing berries due to their high profitability.

A producer specialized in producing berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries) can earn up to six times what a producer of corn makes because a ton of berries is being paid for more than 20,000 pesos while a ton of corn costs 3,000 pesos.

Meanwhile avocado prices only surpass berry prices by 30 percent, as they are sold at 26,000 pesos per ton.

 

Each year many producers attracted by the prices achieved by berries have chosen to start cultivating this culture to the point that the area planted with these berries grew by 179 percent in the last 10 years, going from 8,968 hectares in 2005 to more than 25,000 last year, according to the Agricultural and Fisheries Information System (SIAP).Jesus Valdes, founder of Main Land Farms, a company that produces and exports berries, said that producers had to make a high investment, of at least half a million pesos per hectare, to start cultivating this crop but that its profitability was higher than that of other crops.

Michoacan, Baja California, and Jalisco are the main producers in the country, as they account for 85 percent of the domestic production’s value. The main export destination is the United States, with just over 90 percent of shipments, followed by Europe, and Asian markets, such as Japan and Hong Kong.

In 2015 berry exports, which include exports of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, amounted to 1,501 million dollars, only 380 million dollars lower than avocado exports and 321 million dollars less than tomato exports, according to data from the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA).

80 percent of exports were aimed at retail chains like Costco, Walmart, and Target, where consumers can find Mexican berries under different brand names, such as Naturipe, BerryFresh, Driscoll’s and Red Blossom.

As berry exports have a sustained double-digit growth each year, berry producers in Mexico want their fruits to become the agricultural product with the highest export value.

“If this growth rate continues, we will rank first and double our production in four years,” said the president of the National Association of Berry Exporters (Aneberries), Mario Andrade.

Currently Mexico produces 30 percent of the berries exported in the world. The Vice President of Driscoll’s Mexico, Mario Steta, estimated that by 2020 the value of berry exports would be about 3 billion dollars.

“We will have surpassed avocado and tomato exports, which are the country’s flagship products, regarding their value” Steta said.

In 2006, Mexico only exported $450 million dollars and the country had almost tripled that number by 2015.

The berry exports industry has had to pay a price for exporting more than 390,000 tons and 1,500 million dollars, specifically in Baja California, where hundreds of laborers of the San Quintin Valley in Ensenada have protested to demand better working conditions.

According to Mario Steta, this is the great challenge for the sector. “In the next few years, the sector has to focus on improving the conditions of workers in the rural environment (…) otherwise, nobody is going to work for us,” he stated.

Source: elfinanciero.com.mx

 
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What is the U.S doing to reduce drug consumption and what is Mexico doing to reduce drug trafficking?

The governor of the Mexican border state of Nuevo León, whose election as the first independent governor in the country’s history shook up Mexican politics, visited the city of Austin, Texas on Thursday March 31st, and met with Gov. Greg Abbott to discuss collaboration on energy, trade, transportation and border security.

The Austin American Statesman reported that in a whirlwind trip that lasted less than 24 hours, Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, known as “El Bronco” to his constituents, also met with University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves, as well as Mexican students and business leaders living in the Lone Star State.  Click here to read the entire story


Safety Not a Concern For Expats Living in Mexico


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To determine how safe it is for expats in places like Panama, Nicaragua, Belize and Mexico, Best Places In The World to Retire asked some of its more than 500 contributors to weigh in.

New York – The thought of living in certain places in Mexico or Central America can be alluring: fabulous beaches, colonial cities, inexpensive, quality health care, a slower pace and much lower cost of living. But some people think mistakenly that it isn’t safe.

To determine how safe it is for expats in places like Panama, Nicaragua, Belize and Mexico, Best Places In The World to Retire asked some of its more than 500 contributors to weigh in. They said that petty crime can be a problem, although that’s no different than in the United States.

They also said that more serious crime is not nearly as rampant as the media indicates, although it’s important to avoid certain areas. That’s also no different than in the U.S. Overall, the expats said that they felt safe in their communities.

Here are some of the issues on which the expats commented:

Property Crime vs. Violent Crime

The expat contributors divided the subject into two categories: crimes against property, such as having a camera, smartphone or other possession stolen, and crimes against a person, including violent crimes, like assault, rape or murder

The majority of expats said that crimes against property are somewhat higher where they live in Latin America than in similar-type locations and situations in North America. However, by about the same margin, most expats said that crimes against people were less likely where they lived in Latin America than in North America, especially in the U.S.

Audrey Royem, formerly from Colorado and now living in Sayulita, a town close to Puerto Vallarta in Mexico said that most of the crimes in her area were smaller scale or robberies that could possible have been avoided with more vigilance. “The crime that you see here is usually petty theft; house robberies where there’s lack of protection or a tourist who leaves the house totally open and all of their valuables out,” Royem said. “We do not really hear of any other type of crime, even the type of crimes that we’re used to in the States, such as rapes or drug-related crimes.”

Janice Gallagher, who moved from Dallas to Granada, Nicaragua more than a decade ago, said that most crime in the country was the type of petty crime that could “be avoided by thinking smart.”

Gallagher said that, “Granada does not have drive by shootings or gang violence. Child kidnappings are nonexistent. All the horrible things I see while watching the news from the United States just don’t happen here.”

Many expats said that petty theft happens in the U.S., as well. Leave an expensive smart phone on a big city park bench in the U.S., and it’s unlikely to still be there an hour later.

Read the full article at TheStreet.com.


 
 What you need to know

The following is taken from Mexperience.com

You need Mexico car insurance because it’s required and US /Canadian insurance coverage stops at the Mexican border. Every year Mexico implements stricter laws for uninsured motorists, meaning not having it can cost you money due to damage/loss to your vehicle, fines and more
When you drive your car to Mexico, travel with complete peace of mind, by being properly insured. Your U.S. or Canadian insurance policy, however comprehensive, won’t cover you in Mexico, but affordable insurance is available…

http://quote.mexpro.com/quote/?aff_id=9804&agtdst=&office_code=

Mexican Auto insurance You Can Trust if you ever get into an accident in Mexico

Insuring Your Car in Mexico
Although your U.S./Canadian car insurance policy may be comprehensive, and might also extend some limited damage coverage in Mexico, you will still need to purchase policy that is legally valid in Mexico.
U.S. and Canadian auto insurance policies, however comprehensive, hold no legal jurisdiction in Mexico. This means that you must buy separate insurance cover for your car while you’re driving in Mexico if you want to travel with complete peace of mind.

If you are driving your car improperly insured in Mexico and you become involved in an accident it will, at best, cost you a lot of money and, at worst, leave you imprisoned in a Mexican jail house. Presenting a U.S. or Canadian auto insurance policy will be of no use because these documents have no legal or actual force in Mexico, and the companies backing them will not settle any claim arising when you or your car are situated south of the border.
Drivers who are involved in serious accidents in Mexico are usually arrested pending investigation. If you are not properly insured in Mexico and become involved in a serious accident—even if it’s not your fault—these procedures will likely place a great deal of stress and financial burden upon you.
This guide explains how insurance works in Mexico and how to go about buying the additional insurance protection you need to ensure that you, your passengers, and your vehicle are properly insured when driving on Mexican soil and that, in the event of a serious accident, you are properly covered by a legally-valid and adequate insurance policy.
Mexican Auto Insurance
Mexican Law stipulates that only insurance companies which are licensed in Mexico can provide the type of auto insurance coverage that is recognized and accepted by Mexico’s legal system.
A few U.S.-based insurance companies will extend physical damage coverage on cars and RVs while they are situated in Mexico, but they cannot and do not provide Mexican liability insurance. So, although these policies may cover your damage, they will not cover your liability to others in Mexico. This is why a special insurance policy is absolutely necessary to be properly insured in Mexico.
Mexican Insurance Companies
Mexican Law also stipulates that liability insurance must be purchased from a licensed Mexican company, so your auto insurance policy necessarily needs to be issued by one of Mexico’s insurance companies, or through a broker in the U.S./Canada working in conjuction with a Mexican insurance company.
Who’s Insuring You?
Buyers purchasing insurance for their car in Mexico are often times misled by believing that they can rely on the broker, rather than the Mexican Insurance Company, to properly handle any claim that may arise during their stay in Mexico.
The insurance company underwriting your policy is much more important than the Broker that sells you the policy.
As all insurance policies are sold through brokers, it’s important to know which insurance company (or companies) are underwriting the policies being sold to you by the broker. Click here to read more  Click here to get your free quotes

 

Information to go
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