Thread: Mexico's president AMLO made his career railing against the country's legendary corruption, describing what he said was a "mafia of power' between wealthy businessmen and corrupt politicians. This story gives a detailed look at how that works.…
Business stories with complicated financial transactions can make your eyes glaze over. But if you stand back and connect the dots on this story, as @PerezEnMexico and @RWhelanWSJ do here capably, it's shockingly brazen. It says so much about Mexico's crony capitalism.
Start with a flawed privatization process that sold state firms to politically connected elites. Salinas Pliego bought a state TV network in part using a loan from the then president's corrupt brother! Since, critics say he has used the network to further his biz interests.
Fertinal is a good example. He bought it for cents on the dollar in what looks like a dubious auction, and then seemingly used his network to bully ING into a windfall insurance payment. His banks then sucked out Fertinal's value before he flipped it to Pemex for a giant profit.
So, back to AMLO. Does he not understand how one of his closest private sector allies really operates? Or, does the mafia of power only exist if they are AMLO's political enemies? And what does that say about the ways in which Mexico won't change during his term?

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More from @davidluhnow

14 Jan
Thread: Brazil is ranked number two in the world lists of Covid fatalities, behind the USA. But that is almost certainly wrong. Mexico is almost surely number two. And in this story, we explain why.… via @WSJ
Mexico is failing to accurately record the majority of those who die from Covid. How do we know? Because the surge of excess deaths in 2020 in Mexico was roughly 2.4 times the official Covid toll. On Dec 12, excess deaths were 274,486 compared to Covid toll of 113,704.
Some of the additional deaths, of course, may not be Covid but from people who put off treatment for chronic disease, for instance. But health experts say the majority of those were likely killed by Covid. Other countries have a far smaller gap between excess deaths and Covid.
Read 17 tweets
8 Nov 20
THREAD: Since the issue of Mexico's 2006 election has come up again given AMLO's refusal to recognize Biden until all the legal issues around the election are settled, I thought I'd share my experiences during that vote b/c I covered it closely.
AMLO lost the election by about 234,000 votes out of nearly 42 million - a slender 0.56% of the vote (and a similar margin to Biden's win in Pennsylvania). Most pre-election polls showed AMLO winning, but others showed a toss up, and the race clearly tightened at the end.
But AMLO and his team were so confident of victory, they had a hard time accepting they lost. They cried fraud. Many international media believed the claims at first. After all, this was Mexico, right? But as the days went on, it became clear they didn't have any real evidence.
Read 15 tweets
28 Oct 20
Short thread: Do you care about what's happening to the Amazon? Then read this story about how Amata SA tried to make a business of sustainably harvesting hardwoods - cutting down only one tree per acre so the forest could regrow.… via @WSJ
The Brazilian gov't believes that legal logging is the best way to save the forest from illegal loggers, who clear cut everything. In that sense, they are right. More legal logging will provide jobs and help keep trees that help ecosystem and suck up carbon.
But there is a catch: legal logging faces unfair competition from illegal logging, which is far cheaper and can undercut their prices in the open market. Why? They don't pay taxes and they don't care about preservation, so they clear cut on the cheap.
Read 5 tweets
15 Sep 20
Mexico's president was elected for one very good reason: His promise to end a culture of corruption that has long held Mexico back. But two years in, it increasingly looks like he's unwilling or unable to deliver.… via @WSJ
We have a pretty solid body of evidence building up: He has steadfastly ignored the institutional solutions to corruption. Rather than name a strong, independent anti-corruption prosecutor, he named a party hack. Funding cut for transparency agency and elsewhere.
Mexicans self-report that they are being asked more often for bribes. The government is resorting increasingly to directly assigned projects rather than public bidding. Government agencies are increasingly denying requests for transparency.
Read 6 tweets
5 Sep 20
Short thread about this story below. We heard from a radio report this week that Mexico was running out of death certificates due to Covid (and a bureaucratic screw up).…
We confirmed the story. Then we called the Health Ministry and the coronavirus czar @HLGatell for comment on Thursday morning. They said they were working on it, and would get back to us.
We waited to publish until we heard back. Important for us to hear their side of the story. Then, on Friday evening, @HLGatell talks about the issue at his news conference, essentially scooping us and spinning the issue how he wants.
Read 5 tweets
25 Jun 20
HILO: Muchos en México han escuchado del brote de Covid en La Central de Abasto, el mercado mas grande de America Latina. Pero lo que tal vez no han escuchado es que, en muchos sentidos, es una historia de éxito. Aquí les va el porque...… via @WSJ
En tiempos de pandemia, el mercado podría ser una pesadilla y convertirse en una catástrofe humanitaria. En días pico llegan hasta medio millón de visitantes y se dispersan por todo el Pais, potencialmente dispersando el virus por toda la parte central del país.
Y eso empezó a suceder a finales de Abril. Pero la ciudad y el mercado, trabajando con expertos en epidemiología, intervinieron. La receta: pruebas, aislamiento de positivos, y rastreo de contactos. La prueba es gratis y el resultado en dos días (vs 7 días a nivel federal).
Read 8 tweets

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