During the opening ceremony of the 51st U.S.-Mexico Interparliamentary Group, U.S. lawmakers praised the structural reforms proposed by President Enrique Peña Nieto.
U.S. Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas) the chairman of the US interparliamentary delegation, said that when viewed from abroad, Mexico is seen as a nation that has achieved substantial agreements in a short period of time that put Mexico headed in the right direction. Rep. McCaul described the progress made by these reforms as an economic revolution.
Rep. McCaul also serves as Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee
Mexico's ambassador to the United States, Eduardo Medina-Mora, said that these structual reforms will strengthen the Mexican economy and by extension the entire North American region.
In an effort to strengthen bilateral ties amid Mexico’s new focus on Asia, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, will participate in the 2013 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali, Indonesia during his tour of Asia in October. …
"This will be the first time that a president of Mexico will visit Singapore in the first year of his administration," Jose Antonio Meade, Foreign Minister of Mexico, said. “The idea for him to come here so early is so that we have the time over his six years to develop a framework for a better relationship.”
During an interview in Singapore on August 17th, Jose Antonio Meade, Mexico’s Foreign Minister, told The Sunday Times that the President’s visit would bring a “new level of intensity to ties” as well as open up business opportunities. Last year, Mexico, Chile, Colombo and Peru joined to form the Pacific Alliance, a pro-free-trade group that strives to improve relations with Asia.
Foreign Minister, Meade said, "We want to be closer from the bilateral perspective... and also as a way to have better access to the South-east Asian nations and the rest of Asia. We want to be closer to Singapore as a Pacific Alliance.”
The tourism magazine Condé Nast Traveler has named Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto as one of its Travel Visionaries for 2013. The list of visionaries honored those individuals “who use their celebrity, artistry, and global platform to make our planet a more just, healthy, and peaceful place.” …
In its profile, Condé Nast Traveler highlighted some of the political and environmental successes of President Peña Nieto’s first year in office, stating that “Peña Nieto has brought opposing sides together in ways that President Obama can only envy. He has persuaded the three major parties to work together on educational and economic reforms and to break up the telecommunications and energy monopolies.”
With respect to environmental issues, Condé Nast Traveler notes that “In another sign of courage, Peña Nieto is sticking to Mexico’s aggressive plans to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2020.”
The magazine reports that President Peña Nieto has proposed an initiative to promote responsible tourism that gives back to communities. Peña Nieto has said: “We must improve our destinations for visitors, but also for those who live and work here.”
Vice President of the United States Joe Biden will visit Mexico on September 19 and 20 for bilateral meetings with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. During his visit, Biden will launch the U.S-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue, and participate in an educational event as part of the Bilateral Forum on Education, Research and Innovation. …
At a bilateral meeting in May, President Peña Nieto and U.S. President Barack Obama launched the Education Forum agreement in order to expand student exchanges and increase research in the education sector.The forum seeks to "expand economic opportunities for the citizens" of the two countries and will promote greater access to postsecondary education" for traditionally underserved demographic groups in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Mexico and the United States have a long history of educational collaboration, with more than 18,000 college students exchanges between the two countries each year.
This upcoming trip to Mexico will mark Biden’s fifth trip to Latin America as vice president.
According to E-Tourism Monitor, the Mexico Tourism Board now ranks third in the world in Facebook likes. With approximately 965,000 likes on Facebook, Mexico is close behind the UK with 1.1 million likes Australia with 4.5 million. Social media is rapidly affecting the way citizens travel domestically, with… significant numbers of users making travel decisions based on their friends’ social media activity. Uploading images, declarations of excitement, and easy access to websites for travel information; social media is fast becoming the market place for tourism interest and growth globally.
As the third most-liked national tourism organization on Facebook, Mexico is well on its way to achieving its tourism goals. Tourism accounts for 9 percent of the gross domestic product of Mexico and salaries in the tourism sector are 30 percent above the national average. President Enrique Peña Nieto has stated that "We will open Mexico to the world, and the world will visit Mexico. Tourism is a fundamental component of our economy and a key driver of national development." And Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Mexico's Secretary of Tourism, highlighted Mexico as a trendsetter in the global tourism industry. "I have no doubt that tourism is the future of Mexico. Under the President's leadership, tourism will be used as an engine to drive development for all Mexicans," she said.
The vacant lots beneath Mexico’s highway overpasses are getting a makeover. Theses underpasses are being transformed into commercial and recreational space at no cost the Mexican government. …
The Under Bridges program specifies that 50 percent of the land remain as public space, with playgrounds, exercise areas, greenery and picnic tables; 30 percent is commercial and office space; and the remaining 20 percent is reserved for parking. Instead of spending money to develop the land, Mexico granted concessions to private developers allowing them to bear the cost of cleanup, construction and maintenance while leasing the commercial and retail space to business approved by city officials.
From resource drain to commercial real estate fame, four under bridge zones have been built, with twenty more in the works. The zones are improving the community, the economy, as well as public safety in Mexico City. As a result of development, pedestrian crosswalks, street lights, and trash cleanup, public safety has increased, ultimately resulting in more security, more people and revenue generated for Mexico.
President Enrique Peña Nieto met with Mexican ambassadors from around the world to discuss ways to promote Mexico's international image. …
In a private meeting in Los Pinos, President Peña Nieto requested that the Mexican diplomatic corps take steps to strenghen Mexico's presence in the world, expand international cooperation, promote the value of Mexico in the world and protec the interests of Mexico abroad.
"We are committed to a peaceful and inclusive Mexico," Peña Nieto said. "We want to build a prosperous Mexico with quality education for all. From internal reforms, our goal is a Mexico as an actor with global responsibilities."
Peña Nieto outlined goals for Mexico with different regions of the world. In North America, he seeks the elimination of the visa requirement for Mexicans in Canada; foster greater cooperation on security and attract greater investment flows in the automotive, aerospace, energy and telecommunications sectors. In Latin America, Mexico wants to promote greater regional integration of the region.
Peña Nieto's goals in Europe are to promote the positive image of Mexico as a safe destination for investment, trade and tourism, strengthen strategic relationships, promote greater academic and business exchanges and encourage cooperation on global issues like human rights, the fight against poverty and hunger. In Asia, his priorities are to strengthen and deepen dialogue and political relationship; intensify tourism exchanges, trade and investment, as well as an expansion of programs of scientific and technological cooperation. In the case of the Middle East, the President Peña Nieto stressed the need to promote tourism and cultural exchanges as well as boost trade and mutual investment.
At a joint press conference at the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City, Presidents Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and Barack Obama reaffirmed the strong ties between the United States and Mexico at the beginning of this week's bilateral meeting.
"Mexico and the United States have one of the largest, most dynamic relationships of any two countries on earth," said President Obama. "Our success is shared. When one of us prospers, both of us prosper."
President Peña Nieto said, "Higher education is the great booster for our two nations, where science and technology are our best bet."
Presidents Obama and Peña Nieto announced the formation of a bilateral forum for education, innovation and research, in order to expand student exchanges and increase research in the education sector. The forum seeks to "expand economic opportunities for the citizens" of the two countries and will promote greater access to postsecondary education" for traditionally underserved demographic groups in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Mexico and the United States have a long history of educational collaboration, with more than 18,000 college students exchanges between the two countries each year.
Upon his arrival on Air Force One in Mexico City, U.S. President Barack Obama travelled to the Palacio Nacional to begin his bilateral meetings with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico. Following a joint press conference, Presidents Obama and Peña Nieto will have a working… dinner at Los Pinos. Tomorrow, President Obama is expected to speak to Mexican youth at the Museo Nacional de Antropología before travelling to Costa Rica for the second leg of his trip through Latin America.
This is President Obama’s fourth trip to Mexico. President Obama previously visited Mexico in April and August 2009 meetings with then-President Felipe Calderón. President Obama also attended the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos in June 2012. In November 2012, then President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto met with President Obama and invited him to visit Mexico. Vice President Joe Biden attended President Peña Nieto’s December 2012 inauguration ceremony.
On the eve of President Obama's visit to Mexico, two-thirds of Mexicans have a favorable impression of the United States, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center. This represents the highest approval rating of the Mexico-US bilateral relationship in three years. 66 percent of Mexicans rated relations with the United States as… "good," up from 44 percent in late 2010. 70 percent of Mexicans rate economic relations with the United States as "good." Regarding President Obama, 49 percent of Mexicans express confidence in the American president to do the right thing when it comes to world affairs, up from 42 percent in 2012 and 38 percent in 2011.
The upcoming visit will be President Obama’s fourth trip to Mexico. President Obama previously visited Mexico in April and August 2009 meetings with then-President Felipe Calderón. President Obama also attended the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos in June 2012. In November 2012, then President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto met with President Obama and invited him to visit Mexico. Vice President Joe Biden attended President Peña Nieto’s December 2012 inauguration ceremony.
A recent editorial in the Christian Science Monitor praised the political leadership of President Enrique Peña Nieto for breaking years of political gridlock in Mexico. The editorial discussed policies proposed by President Peña Nieto to reform the education, energy and telecommunications sectors. …
“The so-called Pact for Mexico signed by top political leaders has enabled President Enrique Peña Nieto to overcome legislative paralysis and either pass or present serious reforms,” stated the Christian Science Monitor editorial. “To the surprise of many, his own Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), which once represented the entrenched status quo, has taken on big interests that have long held Mexico back.”
The Christian Science Monitor hailed the legislative cooperation in Mexico as a model to solve political gridlock in the United States.
“Mexicans have witnessed a rare moment in which their bickering political leaders came together for change,” the editorial stated. “At a time when the US Congress is struggling even to pass a budget, Mexico provides a model for what can be done”
High speed rail in Mexico is a key priority for the new President of Mexico. In a recent speech outlining a National Tourism Policy for Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto emphasized the need for improved infrastructure in tourist destinations. As an example, Peña Nieto proposed the completion of a rail… line across the Yucatán Peninsula linking the colonial city of Mérida to the beach resorts of the Mayan Riviera. The Mexican government plans to spend approximately 11 billion pesos on the project.
The Transpeninsular Train would feature air-conditioned cars carrying as many as 400 passengers and traveling at speeds up to 110 mph. The first stage of the railroad would run from the Yucatán capital of Mérida to Punto Venado on the Caribbean Coast, with links to the Mayan archaeological sites of Chichen Itza and Tulum.
The new focus on high speed rail in Mexico marks a change in transportation policy. With the exception of a few tourist trains, like the Tequila Express in the state of Jalisco and the Copper Canyon railway through the Sierra Madre, Mexico all but eliminated passenger rail service when it shut down the state-run Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (National Railways of Mexico) in the 1990s.
U.S. President Barack Obama will meet his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, during a visit to Mexico in early May. The bilateral meeting is expected to address issues of trade, economic growth and immigration. …
"The president welcomes the opportunity to discuss ways to deepen our economic and commercial partnership and further our engagement on the broad array of bilateral, regional, and global issues that connect our two countries," the White House said.
While he was still president-elect of Mexico, Peña Nieto met with President Obama in November 2012, and invited him to visit Mexico. Vice President Joe Biden attended President Peña Nieto’s December 2012 inauguration ceremony.
The upcoming visit will be President Obama’s fourth trip to Mexico. President Obama previously visited Mexico in April and August 2009 for a meetings with then President Felipe Calderón. President Obama also attended the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos in June 2012.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto is making headway on his campaign promises and bringing a measure of optimism to his country’s government during his first two months in power. …
Showing a deft political touch, Pena Nieto has woven together a coalition of his Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI in its Spanish initials, with the major opposition parties for a broad agenda labeled “Pact for Mexico.”
Pena Nieto’s government has already pushed through a constitutional reform last month that returned the right to the government to hire and fire teachers and ended the selling of teaching jobs. Before the reform, the powerful teachers’ union and its despised, lifelong leader Elba Esther Gordillo retained such rights.
“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Jorge Buendia, the head of Buendia & Laredo, an independent polling firm. “It is without precedent to pull together the principal political forces on major structural reforms.”
The PRI does not hold a majority in either chamber of Congress, requiring it to seek coalitions.
“There’s a tide, a wave of optimism that this government can get issues through Congress,” Duncan Wood, the director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, said at a forum Jan. 9.
Pena Nieto’s predecessor, Felipe Caledron, who left office Dec. 1, made the drug war the focus of his government. While crime rates remain an issue in Mexico, Pena Nieto has promised to also spend time on reforms that include pledges to broaden the tax-collection system and modernize the state oil company.
For decades, both Americans and Canadians have been supporting efforts to provide young Oaxacans with improved education; donating not only their time and expertise, but also books and related educational resources, food and clothing to make attending school easier for children of families with very… limited resources, and cash. But while US taxpayers have been able to deduct donations to certain registered Mexican charities from their income, Canadians have not. Finally change is in the wind, as a result of CANFRO, Canadian Friends of Oaxaca Inc.
CANFRO was incorporated as a non-profit organization pursuant to the laws of the Province of Ontario in January, 2012. It has applied for designation as a charitable organization pursuant to CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) regulations, and expects to receive approval by the end of the year. Once approved, it can issue tax-deductible receipts.
While on paper its objectives appear broad, such as supporting women, improving accessibility to healthcare for residents who survive only marginally, and more generally relieving poverty, each of CANFRO’s seven projects is directly related to improving educational opportunities for youthful Oaxacans.
Administrative Framework & Functioning of CANFRO
The Government of Canada does not allow Canadians to obtain tax relief for donations made directly to established Oaxacan non-profits, through CANFRO or otherwise. Rather, funds to support Oaxacans and / or pay for goods and services for their benefit, must be paid to the individual or a third party provider.
The implications of this are twofold. Firstly, administration costs are kept to a bare minimum, since by not donating through a Oaxacan charity no portion of the gift is used for the charity’s operating costs. Secondly, Canadians in Oaxaca, currently the CANFRO directors, must initially select worthy projects, and then devote their efforts to paying funds to the appropriate recipients, ensuring the money is spent as represented to the Canadian donors, and securing the necessary paperwork so that they obtain tax receipts from CANFRO as authorized by CRA.
However, Oaxacan charities do play an important role in the process. In most cases they are utilized in at least one of two respects: to identify the candidates and programs in need; and to act as a conduit or intermediary; CANFRO makes use of charity premises and established routines. An examination of its existing projects clarifies the scheme, while at the same time exemplifies precisely how Canadians can help educate Oaxacans.
Current CANFRO Projects
Some CANFRO projects overlap. However each has a distinctly unique mission, enabling Canadians to choose the form of aid which best suits their preferences, as well as their financial means. Donors who are familiar with an existing Oaxacan charitable organization, and are perhaps already contributing to it without getting tax relief, might gravitate towards it.
The Hearing Aid Project: If not detected early enough, hearing impairment results in lower educational achievement than would otherwise be attainable. CORAL (Oaxacan Center for the Rehabilitation of Hearing and Speech), is a non-profit organization consisting of an audiology clinic, hearing and speech therapy facility, early detection hearing loss program and a social work component which includes in-home training for parents in outlying communities. Hearing aid batteries often last as little as 10 days. On behalf of donors, CANFRO purchases solar powered hearing kits for children with hearing loss. CORAL selects appropriate recipients.
The Women’s Project: CANFRO donors can fully and directly support a bright young indigenous woman in her quest to obtain a high school education. Funds provided are used for meals, accommodations, transportation, educational costs, clothing and healthcare expenses. They also pay for costs related to attending monthly weekend workshops and extended summer sessions at Casa de la Mujer; for mentoring regarding sex, birth control, woman’s rights and self-esteem, as well as psychological and occupational counseling. Casa de la Mujer makes recommendations regarding worthy candidates.
The Advanced Education Project: This initiative is similar to The Women’s Project, but is for promising students of both sexes and not associated with any organization. It may include university education. It is more for donors wishing to decide upon their own recipients or rely on either another individual or one of the non-profits to assist in screening and selecting. The project does not include a workshop component.
The Tutor Project: University students from Oaxaca, as well as those from outlying areas who have migrated to the state capital for higher education, often do not have sufficient resources to complete their studies. CANFRO pays these young adults to tutor high school students in difficult subject areas, both individually and in groups. Thus, benefits accrue to tutors and their students alike. In addition, the tutors provide excellent role models for students of similar social class. Tutoring occurs at The Oaxaca Learning Center.
The Book Project: Reading is a major component of learning. Fifteen years ago a group of Oaxacan residents began a literacy program, Libros para Pueblos, opening children’s libraries in Oaxaca. It has annually expanded into the villages. Proof of its success is the fact that many books have become worn and even “lost.” CANFRO supplies replacement and new books for rural libraries.
The Food & School Sponsorship Projects: These two ventures involve participation of El Centro de Esperanza Infantil (The Center of Hope for Children). Years ago it was brought to the attention of The Center´s founders that many children were falling asleep in Oaxacan schools. As a result of a lack of parental resources students were not receiving the nutrition required to be physically ready to learn. CANFRO donors supply funds for daily hot meals served at The Center, giving youth the energy required to participate fully in their education. But the children require more. El Centro also assists in identifying students worthy of donor support in the form of resources to buy equipment, supplies, uniforms, shoes, books, school fees and medical services.
When to Begin Supporting the Education of Oaxacans?
There’s no need for Canadians to defer donating until tax deductibility is available, likely by December. Canadians have been helping to educate Oaxacans for years with after-tax earnings. Consider initially donating directly to a charity noted above, thereafter paying through CANFRO once CRA approval is confirmed.
Alvin Starkman is one of CANFRO’s directors. He and his wife Arlene operate Casa Machaya Oaxaca Bed & Breakfast (http://www.casamachaya.com). Alvin can be reached at email@example.com for updates regarding supporting Oaxacan education. Alvin assists tourists in planning their visits to the state capital and central valleys.