The September 2010 opening of a new technologically modern hospital in Tepic, Mexico, by the Centro Médico Puerta de Hierro was funded by the Inter-America Development Bank and the International Financial Corporation, and has greatly increased medical services for residents in the area. Prior to establishing the new… hospital, the city’s population of approximately 330,000 people had to travel one hour to receive treatment in Guadalajara. The new hospital in Tepic, Mexico, received not only funding, but also a great deal of support from the Inter-America Development Bank and the International Financial Corporation.
A second hospital is projected to open in Colima, the capital of the Mexican state of Nayarit. Peter Stevenson, an Inter-America Development Bank project team leader stated, “We provided capital that was not readily available in the private market with tenors that were compatible to the needs of investors.”
These two hospitals will provide state-of-the-art care for individuals who are both publically and privately insured by the Mexican healthcare system. Additionally, they will provide special services, conduct surgery, diagnose, and treat a variety of different neurological and cardiovascular diseases – reducing the burden experienced by overcrowded hospitals nearby. Furthermore, the hospitals have already created many employment opportunities in the surrounding Mexican communities.
Mexico is about to achieve its goal of universal healthcare. Around 10 years ago, Mexico enacted a law providing access to healthcare through a government insurance program called Seguro Popular. The new Secretary of Health, Salomón Chertorivski, commented on this achievement. “In… 2000, half of the population in Mexico did have a financial mechanism for health, but that was because of their labor status,” he stated. “If you had a formal or salaried job you had access to social security and social security gave you access to medical attention, financing your medical attention.” Chertorivski went on to say that, “today we already have more than 50 million people registered with Seguro Popular together with those with social security, we are reaching in December universal coverage: that is all Mexicans are going to have a financial mechanism for their health.” This new universal health plan will change the whole foundation of Mexican society and will contribute to improvements in the sphere of economics and the social establishment of the country. Chertorivski described some of the challenges that the health system in Mexico will face in order to succeed in providing a universal health plan to its citizens. He claimed that Mexico is going to have to deal with “moving now from curative to preventative health” and that the country will need to improve the quality of their medical infrastructure. At the moment, President Calderón is extremely serious about this new shift towards universal health system in Mexico. Chertorivski also commented on the importance of the health sector in Mexico’s social, political, and economic realms. He affirmed, “If you invest in health you are investing also in economic growth, you are investing in development, you are investing in productivity.”
The Government of Mexico is making intensified efforts to bring a stop to habitat degradation. The Governor of Veracruz, Javier Duarte de Ochoa, was quoted stating at the opening of the Management, Regulation, and Forest Health Course in the Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada auditorium, in Jalapa, that all… branches and affiliates of the government and Mexican population need to work together in order to address certain environmental issues that have plagued the Mexican community, as well as the global community. He’s already personally taken steps to assure a positive environmental movement of conservation efforts, towards sustainability and green living by creating a Secretariat who will address environmental issues.
He claimed, “Our participation and the use of tools aimed to facilitate sustainable forest development are the keys to success in creating a better future for future generations.” He went on to say that, “If we all cooperate, we will achieve a greener Mexico, that looks after the environment, and as a result, we will live in a more prosperous country.” The variety of environmental and natural resources in Mexico makes it possible to use the environment to better society on both an economic level and a personal level. With a great diversity of natural resources in Mexico, the Mexican government has focused its attention on promoting a sustainable environment through conservation efforts that encourage a positive job market. In turn, these conservation efforts will help combat poverty and habitat degradation.
Duarte de Ochoa concluded, “Without water from the mountain forests, there would be no life, or irrigation and intensive farming. Without forests purifying the air, we would not have a very good quality of life. It is the vegetation of forest ecosystems that provides us with a better life and better air quality.” Taking care of the environment can not only lead to an improvement in the ecology of society, but can also benefit the health of society as a whole.
South Bend Mayor Stephen Luecke recently announced a sister city relationship between South Bend, Indiana and Guanajuato, Mexico. Mayor Luecke hopes the connection will allow for understanding between the two cultures and help foster the diverse community. …
“We know we have much to learn from each other,” Mayor Luecke said at the press conference. “I think it really is wonderful to celebrate heritage for the Latino population here…to say how important we believe it is in South Bend to have a diverse community and to celebrate their various traditions," he added.
Many of South Bend’s community organizations have contributed to the creation of the Guanajuato sister-city relationship. South Bend Rotary Club members have toured Guanajuato, and have installed water tanks and donated technical equipment like computers and projectors to rural schools.
Jim Stroven, the club’s world community service chairman, talks about what an impressive city Guanajuato is. He says, “It's alive, it's colorful, it's open, it's friendly.”
People with cultural roots in Guanajuato are estimated to make up one-third of South Bend’s population.
The U.S. Department of Defense donated hazardous materials training and equipment valued at $100,000 to fire and safety agencies in Matamoros, Mexico.
The program includes training sessions to prepare Matamoros agencies to handle hazardous material emergencies as well as guidelines on transporting hazardous materials.
Training sessions were led by Lieutenant Ian Moscoso of the Houston Cloverleaf Fire Department.
A total of 15 sister-cities along the U.S.-Mexico border will receive similar training and equipment from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Defense. The Program will spend 1.5 million dollars to meet the goals of Border 2012, a US-Mexico environmental protection program.
According to Jeffrey B. Smith, chief for International Building Partnership Capacities at U.S. Northern Command, “If the fire departments of both sides of the border share the same protocols, share the same equipment, in a event in Matamoros, Brownsville can respond, and vice versa.”
Matamoros is the 9th city in Mexico to be granted training and equipment. Laredo has already received the equipment and Reynosa is slated to be next.
The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (FCC) has just declared that they have worked out deals with Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transportation and Industry Canada that will lead to the sharing of certain frequencies of wireless spectrum in border areas of the United States and therefore contribute to imperative international… coordination. This new development is part of President Obama’s plan to provide broadband access to a larger part of the United States. It will be a valuable way to supply broadband to some otherwise remote areas in the United States. The deal will be exceedingly important for security and crisis purposes because it will allow fire, police, and EMS responders to receive wireless spectrum coverage in more areas. In addition, the FCC believes that these new deals will allow a faster and more expansive roll out of 4G wireless broadband for areas that are now lacking such options. It will include wireless spectrum in the 700MHz and 800MHz bands shared with Canada and 700MHz in the bands shared with Mexico.
Industry Canada spokesman Lauren Hebert stated, “The arrangement with the U.S. ensures that future Canadian 700 MHz operators will have equal access to spectrum within 120 km of the border and provides clarity on the international coordination requirements in force in that area.” After signing the vital documents Chairman Julius Genachowski of the FCC said, “These arrangements will unleash investment and benefit consumers near the borders by enabling the rollout of 4G wireless broadband service and advanced systems for critical public safety and emergency response communications.”
An anti-venom being produced in Mexico was just approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a scorpion sting treatment. This makes it the first drug permitted for this use by the FDA. This accomplishment is the result of 12 years of research and development by a variety of academic and clinical intellectuals. …
Scorpion stings can cause blurred vision, slurred speech, vomiting, nausea, and even death. This scorpion sting treatment anti-venom, produced in Mexico, could bring an end to all of that. Scorpion stings are seen most prominently in Arizona, Southern Nevada, and New Mexico. Additionally, scorpion stings are even more numerous in Mexico. The University of Arizona also claims that the anti-venom has been creating interest in other countries susceptible to scorpion stings, like Morocco. Boyer led clinical trials on 2,000 individuals for the new scorpion sting treatment drug, known as Anascorp, in Las Vegas and Arizona. The drug worked marvelously and children’s symptoms vanished within a few hours. Until 2004, the FDA allowed hospitals to use anti-venom in hospitals even though it was not FDA approved because it had been used for 50 years prior.
In 2004, however, the woman who had been producing the scorpion sting treatment drug retired, limiting the stock of anti-venom. Dr. Boyer, the director of the University of Arizona’s VIPER (Venom Immunochemistry, Pharmacology, and Emergency Response) Institute, had traveled to Cuernavaca, Mexico in 1999 and met with researches who were examining the new anti-venom made by Mexico City’s Instituto Bioclon. She received a grant from the FDA to administer research on the drug during the period in which the old anti-venom was running out. Boyer stated,” We timed it perfectly…we never had to find out what would have happened if all rural Arizona was left without an anti-venom.” She went on to say, “We strongly believe, based on history, that we would have had deaths had we not started this project in 2004.”
August 1 marked a landmark day for Mexico’s healthcare system; the Minister of Tourism, Gloria Guevara, acted in tandem with the Minister of Health, José Ángel Córdova in leading the first Health Tourism Forum in Monterrey, Nuevo León. The primary goal of the forum was to secure Mexico’s place as a… leader in the medical tourism industry and to implement a standardized system for measuring quality health care. This initiative is part of Mexico’s National Agreement on Tourism (Acuerdo Nacional por el Turismo), signed into place by Calderón in February with the aim of promoting Mexico as one of the top 5 international travel destinations by 2018. Encompassed in this program will be a campaign that will include an inventory of the clinics certified by the General Health Council, an official accreditation program for tourist-based hospitals, and a breakdown of the healthcare offered.
Secretary Guevera stressed that Mexico already possesses all of the conditions necessary to be a market leader in medical tourism, largely thanks to state-of-the-art facilities and well-trained physicians. Nuevo León specifically is recognized for its first class medical infrastructure, with nearly 9,000 internationally recognized experts, and 50,000 people employed in the healthcare field, according to the state’s governor Rodrigo Medina de la Cruz.
With an estimated 1.6 million Americans expected to travel outside the United States for medical treatment in 2012 alone, Secretary Guevara and other officials are hopeful that this campaign will continue to attract visitors to the country, increase spending on health tourism, and consequently generate more sources for employment within Mexico.
UNESCO, an organization geared towards developing and promoting initiatives that support intercultural dialogue and equality, recently honored Mexico among the winners of its prestigious 2011 Literacy Awards. The themes of this year’s International Literacy Prizes are literacy and peace, with special emphasis on… “gender equality.” Among the exceptional literacy laureates is Mexico’s National Institute for Education of Adults, winning an award for its Bilingual Literacy for Life program.
The Bilingual Literacy for Life program won the distinguished UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize and is particularly being recognized for its concerted efforts in increasing literacy among indigenous people in Mexico. This program’s efforts have allowed for indigenous people in Mexico to better understand and exercise their rights. The Bilingual Literacy for Life program has also allowed for growing social conditions in Mexico between multicultural and multilingual communities.
In addition to Mexico, other literacy awardees include programs in Burundi, the United States, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Philippines, and Pakistan. These prizes will be awarded on September 8th in New Delhi, India during International Literacy Day festivities. Each awardee will receive $20,000, a medal, and a diploma.
“Every day along the world’s busiest border, an expensive and time-consuming pantomime is acted out.” So begins the Economist’s coverage of the trucking agreement recently announced between Mexico and the United States. From that smart opening line the paper slips into an… uncharacteristic fit of naïveté, arguing that Mexico stands to chalk major gains from the new transportation agreement. To recap, here are the highlights of the NAFTA trucking agreement: • NAFTA promises that truck drivers from each country will have access to one another’s border states in 1995. Truckers were slated to have nationwide access by 2000. • The Clinton administration halted implementation of the trucking provision under pressure from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters: the trucker’s union claimed that Mexican trucks were unsafe. • In 2007 the Bush administration allowed a trial run, whereby 100 Mexican truck companies would be permitted to haul cargo deeper into the US. • Congressional and private sector studies concluded Mexican trucks in the US received fewer safety violations than their American counterparts. As the Teamsters original objections grew untenable the union shifted tactics: they now insist that letting Mexican trucks into the US will be a green light for drug traffickers to move their product into the US. • President Obama scotched the trial program a few months after entering office. • In accordance with a NAFTA panel ruling, Mexico leveled tariffs against 90 different US products, affecting some $2.4 billion in goods across 40 states. Mexican goods accounted for 12% of US imports in 2010. That’s a record high, and the Economist sees it as a basis for expanded Mexican trade with the US. Seventy percent of the trade between the US and Mexico is transported by truck, so a fleshed out trucking agreement could significantly boost trade. But the devil is in the details. According to Refugio Muñoz, head of Mexico’s shipping chamber, only about 115 of Mexico’s 400,000 trucks will be able to cross the border because of strict security regulations. “I see no future with this program,” Muñoz told the Alaska Dispatch (“News from the Last Frontier”). “The only thing this accord does is give Mexico an excuse to remove tariffs.” In fact, Mexico dropped half the retaliatory tariffs immediately; the remaining half will be dropped when the trucks start to roll. NAFTA’s economic potential has fallen short because of US political interests. That was the case during the pro-free trade administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. There is little reason to think that President Obama, who campaigned on renegotiating parts of NAFTA, will become a champion of NAFTA writ.
Media are reporting today that the United States and Mexico have signed an agreement to lift a ban on Mexican trucks crossing the border… into the United States to complete freight deliveries, a topic about which we have wailed and rent garments here and here and here. No one is proposing to throw open the border to the folksy jalopies that crowd Mexico’s secondary highways – those of windshield pom-pom and “Dios protege mi camino” fame. The Mexican trucks will be subject to strict conditions regarding safety compliance and restriction of activities, including electronic monitoring devices and instruction in English and U.S. road rules. Some Mexican trucking companies, however, have already expressed interest in registering for the program. Under the agreement, the Mexican government will immediately lift half of its punitive import tariffs on a designated set of U.S. products, and will lift the other half once the first Mexican freight carrier becomes certified under the program. The news should come as substantial relief to producers of pork products, wine, appliances and other key products affected by the duties, in place since 2009. In the announcement of the agreement, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak estimated that the trucking dispute has cost U.S. businesses over US$2 billion. Agricultural producers have been particularly hard hit, with apple, pear and grape exports to Mexico slapped with a 20% duty, cheeses at 25% and various nuts and juices in the 15% to 20% range. This whole dispute was a bunch of baloney from square one and penalized U.S. exporters severely while President Obama was simultaneously calling for a national campaign to boost exports. Good riddance, we say.
In a July 18 press release, Chula Vista Deputy Mayor Rudy Ramirez stated that the public’s false perception that Mexico is dangerous is not supported by real crime statistics. The press release reads, “A key topic of discussion was that the perception of the insecurity of the region is not supported by statistics… regarding public safety.” In the press release, Ramirez reported on a recent meeting with mayors from different cities throughout Southern California and Baja California in which they discussed the false perception individuals hold in regards to safety and life in Mexico. The mayors also spoke about the need to work together to “promote economic development” and tourism in Mexico.
In addition, during the meeting, the mayors and elected officials discussed Mexican border security and streamlining wait times at ports of entry. Deputy Mayor Rudy Ramirez was quoted saying, “Local government officials agreed that the status quo of long border wait times and travel restrictions is no longer acceptable. We must work to ensure [Mexican] border security but not sacrifice efficiency.”
After 47 years of long lines of visa applicants, the U.S. government has moved its Consulate General in Tijuana across town with more than 100,000 square feet of space in the main building, intended to offer both greater efficiency and tighter security at a time when the consulate’s role has grown… increasingly complex. On Monday, offices opened in the consulate, a $120 million gated compound near the Otay Mesa border crossing.
“We’re not a traditional consulate that you might have thought of ten or 20 years ago,” said Steven Kashkett, the consul general, a 53-year-old career diplomat who oversees a staff of 50 Americans and 100 Mexicans operating out of the Tijuana facility. “We are now basically a mini-embassy representing the U.S. government in this part of Mexico.”
Issuing visas and providing services to American citizens abroad are the stock-and-trade of consular offices worldwide. However, Kashkett said much of the work at the Tijuana consulate near the Otay Mesa border crossing involves reporting on regional counternarcotics efforts, as well as U.S government affairs, both political and economic on the border. The consulate, he said, “is much more of a facilitator between the two governments than it was in the past.”
In recent years, more U.S agencies have operated out of the consulate’s office. They now include Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the Department of Commerce.
“…In a country like Mexico, where U.S. interests are so multi-faceted, in a city like Tijuana that is such an important element of the national fabric, the consulate assumes a role that a consulate in Lyon, France, might not,” said Jeffrey Davidow, a former U.S. ambassador to Mexico.
The Tijuana consular district oversees U.S. government affairs in Baja California and Baja California Sur, which translates to an estimated 250,000 U.S. citizens, not including the tourists, or U.S. citizens in Mexico for jobs, family, and business.
“We are the highest volume, most complex American citizen services post in the world,” said Kashkett, whose previous posts have included Halifax, Port-au-Prince, Beirut and Jerusalem.
The Mexican Association of Banks and Grupo Televisa have worked together with the Federal Government to create a Mexican scholarship fund to support the educational efforts by children of soldiers, marines, and the Federal Police. …
The project, named “Bécalos por su valor” or “Scholarships for your courage” plans to support the high school education of more than 3,500 children of members of the armed forces, according to a press release from the Mexican government. People can contribute to the scholarship fund made to support outstanding students by donating at ATMs throughout Mexico.
One of the purposes of this program is to recognize the efforts and commitment made by soldiers, marines and the federal police to support Mexico and Mexican citizens. With the implementation of this program, hopefully more children of members of the armed forces will be able to attend school and be successful.
President Calderon recently spoke to the public about the launch of this new Mexican scholarship fund and said, “It is very important that we establish and strengthen these ties between civil society and government in important areas. Today, entrepreneurs, bankers, all, I believe, are involved. So, in thanking our Federal Forces, we are committed to educational advancement for our country.”
President Calderon continued by saying, “Initiatives such as this one restore the work of our soldiers, our marines, our Federal Police, and raise their morale. Additionally, the program strengthens the pride of their children and rewards the children’s educational efforts to succeed.”
President Felipe Calderon approved several changes to Mexico’s constitution regarding human trafficking at the presidential residence, Los Pinos, in Mexico City. The country is attempting to crack down on this phenomenon by guaranteeing anonymity of victims who denounce the crime and requiring those accused of human trafficking to be incarcerated during the… length of their trials. President Calderon stated, “It is important that they can give their testimony to the authorities and to society without being at risk.” He also was quoted saying, “There are thousands and thousands of cases, in a society that is still unaware of the seriousness of the crime.” Calderon made a point to comment on the discrepancy between the reality of the situation in Mexico and the degree of public awareness on the important subject. Additionally, he noted the strong connection between criminal drug organizations and human trafficking.
President Felipe Calderon is giving the Mexican Congress a total of 180 days to approve the new laws. He hopes that if the laws are approved, they will help restructure and modernize the fashion in which authorities address these types of cases in Mexico. Calderon pleaded the Mexican Congress and Mexican citizens to take action on this imperative issue, in order to implement and see real change. He declared, “We have to create a unified front to end human trafficking in Mexico.”