November 18, 2008

PayPal starts supporting Mexican peso

Online payment service PayPal, a subsidiary of San Jose-based eBay Inc. has announced that it has expanded into Mexico. Mexican buyers will now be able pay for online purchases using their credit cards or bank accounts with pesos as currency. According to a report in the San Jose Business Journal, the peso is the first Latin American currency to be added to the PayPal system. PayPal also enables payments in the U.S. dollar, Canadian dollar, Australian dollar, euro, British pound, Japanese yen, Chinese yuan, Czech koruna, Danish lrone, Hong Kong dollar, Hungarian forint, New Zealand dollar, Norwegian krone, Polish zloty, Singaporean dollar, Swedish krona, Swiss franc and Israeli new shekel. PayPal is now accepted in 190 countries around the world, and the company said users in Mexico can now shop at retailers that include including, Mixup, Sears,, Blockbuster, Best Day Travel, PlazaVIP, and PC en Linea “PayPal’s goal is to provide consumers a secure, fast and convenient way to pay and get paid online and to give online shoppers in Mexico more places to shop quickly and securely,” said Fernando Moreno, director of PayPal Latin America. “The launch of PayPal Mexico is a significant step towards our next phase of growth.”

Filed under Banking and Financial Services, Internet, Mexico by

September 19, 2008

Gap, Inc will open stores in Mexico, Egypt and Jordan

Gap Inc. is expanding internationally with new franchise agreements to open stores in Mexico, Egypt and Jordan, according to a report in San Francisco Business Times:

The new agreement brings to 21 the number of countries with approved Gap franchisees. The first franchisee was signed in January 2006, and over 100 franchised Gaps and Banana Republic stores are now open in 13 countries.

In Mexico, Gap (NYSE: GPS) will open stores within stores at a Mexican department store chain through a partnership with Distribuidora Liverpool. Gap products will become available in spring 2009.

Gap Inc. will also expand its Middle East presence with franchised Gap and Banana Republic stores in Egypt and Jordan. Fawaz Alhokair Group will open the first Gap stores in Egypt and Jordan by the end of the year, with Banana Republic stores following in 2009. Fawaz Alhokair also has franchised Gap and Banana Republic stores in Saudi Arabia.

Gap and Banana Republic franchise stores are now open in Bahrain, Greece, Indonesia, Korea, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Philippines, Turkey and United Arab Emirates. The company has also announced franchise agreements to open stores in Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Russia over the next five years.

Filed under Egypt, Fashion and Apparel, Jordan, Mexico by

September 2, 2008

Mexico moving forward with massive port at Punta Colonet

Mexico has open the bidding process for the huge new port complex being planned for Punta Colonet – currently a village about 150 miles south of Tijuana. This project is being designed specifically to compete with California ports, and the economic impact could be huge. The project bid is being structured as “joint port-and-rail project” and we don’t know the route of that rail road yet – it could point straight toward Texas and bypass California completely. As reported in the Los Angelest Times, however, its future of this project is anything but ensured:

Mexico’s government is setting sail with the largest infrastructure project in the nation’s history, a $4-billion seaport that it hopes will one day rival those of Los Angeles and Long Beach. President Felipe Calderon is scheduled to travel to northern Baja California today to open bidding on a development that his administration hopes will catapult Mexico into a major player in North
American logistics.

Plans call for the construction of a massive port in the tiny coastal village of Punta Colonet, about 150 miles south of Tijuana, along with new rail lines to whisk Asian-made goods north to the United States. Mexico’s aim is to snatch some Pacific cargo traffic from Southern California’s ports, whose growth is constrained by urban development and environmental concerns.

Punta Colonet is expected to have a capacity of 2 million shipping containers annually when it opens in 2014, Mexico’s transportation secretariat told The Times But officials envision it ultimately handling five times that amount. Last year, the ports of L.A. and Long Beach handled 15.7 million containers combined. The massive development is to be privately funded, with the first phase estimated to cost $4 billion to $5 billion. The government is expected to award the 45-year concession in 2009. A number of major players are expected to vie for the project, including Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu, the world’s second-richest man. Slim’s infrastructure company, known as Ideal, has teamed with Mexican mining and railroad giant Grupo Mexico and New Jersey-based terminal operator Ports America Group to make a run at the deal. “We’ve spent a lot of years working on this,” said Miguel Favela, head of Mexican operations for Ports America. “It’s going to make Mexico . . . much more competitive.”

About 30 million shipping containers crossed the Pacific Ocean last year, a flow that increased about 10% annually in the last decade. A weak U.S. economy has slowed the trade, but experts predict it will rebound. With shippers increasingly worried about congestion at L.A.-Long Beach, Punta Colonet has emerged as an attractive alternative. It’s close to the United States. It possesses a wide, natural harbor. And it’s in a lightly populated area offering room for expansion. When Calderon visits the dusty hamlet of about 2,500 people today, he is expected to talk about the big changes in store. The village will need extensive upgrades to its roads, housing, electrical grid and water supply. State and local officials are planning for a city of about 200,000 to spring up around the port.

The changes envisioned are alarming environmentalists, who worry about the potential destruction of the area’s plants and wildlife. But the farmers who scratch out a living there are thrilled at the prospect. “What we need is employment for our kids,” said Jesus Lara, representative of several peasant landowner groups that are eager to sell. “Everyone is excited. Having the president come to your town is like winning the Lotto.”

But whether Punta Colonet turns out to be lucrative for Mexico won’t be known for years. Competitors up and down the Pacific coast are in the midst of major upgrades. Panama has begun a $5.3-billion expansion of its landmark canal. Canada’s Prince Rupert port in British Columbia began speeding containers to the American heartland by rail last year and is planning a major expansion. Little of the cargo bound for Punta Colonet will stay in Mexico, making the port vulnerable to the whims of shippers, who can choose other routes to the U.S.  “Nothing is guaranteed,” said Asaf Ashar, research professor with the National Ports and Waterways Institute in Washington. “It’s a big risk.”

Building a seaport from scratch would be difficult enough. But the overland transportation piece is likely to make or break Punta Colonet. The deal is being structured as a joint port-and-rail project,
requiring terminal operators, railroads and construction companies to team up in consortia to win the bid. The railroad’s ultimate route and U.S. crossing points will depend on which railway operator is chosen and how it manages to link up with existing rail networks on both sides of the border.
Union Pacific Corp. of Omaha and Fort Worth-based BNSF Railway Co. control the U.S. side of the tracks at most of the key U.S.-Mexico border crossings. Striking a deal with one of those companies to get the cargo to the American side will be crucial, said Paul Bingham, managing director of the global trade and transportation practice for Global Insight, a Massachusetts-based consulting firm.

“They have the ability to essentially choke off that port,” Bingham said.  BNSF spokesman Patrick Hiatte said Wednesday that the company was “very interested” in the Punta Colonet project. He declined to say with whom the firm might collaborate to make a bid. Union Pacific could not be reached for comment. The company earlier had teamed with Hong Kong-based Hutchison Port Holdings to make a run at the project, but that alliance dissolved last year.

Filed under California Ports, Freight and Logistics, Mexico by

April 8, 2008

California shown as part of Mexico in Absolute Vodka advertisment

Absolute vodka company set off a minor controversy by showing California, Texas and much of the Western part of Mexico in advertisements in Mexico. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle:

The campaign, which promotes ideal scenarios under the slogan “In an Absolut World,” showed a 1830s-era map when Mexico included California, Texas and other southwestern states. Mexico still resents losing that territory in the 1848 Mexican-American War and the fight for Texas independence.

But the ads, which ran only in Mexico and have since ended, were less than ideal for Americans undergoing a border buildup and embroiled in an emotional debate over illegal immigration from their southern neighbor. .. Absolut said the ad was designed for a Mexican audience and intended to recall “a time which the population of Mexico might feel was more ideal.”

“As a global company, we recognize that people in different parts of the world may lend different perspectives or interpret our ads in a different way than was intended in that market, and for that we apologize.” Vin & Sprit, Absolut’s Sweden-based parent company, will be acquired by French spirit maker Pernod Ricard SA under a deal reached last week.

Filed under Foreign Relations, Media and Entertainment, Mexico, Sweden by

March 4, 2008

Mexican avocado exporters sue California business group

The feud between Mexican and California avocado growers continues. As reported in “The Packer”:

Last year the Irvine-based California Avocado Commission unsuccessfully sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture in an effort to keep out Mexican avocados because of concerns about armored scale insects.

Now, Mexican avocado exporters have two active lawsuits against California interests.

Following up on a January lawsuit against the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Avocado Producer and Exporting Packers Association of Michoacán (APEAM) has filed a lawsuit against the California Avocado Commission, requesting an unspecified amount to compensate for what it called severe damage to the marketing of Mexican avocados in California caused by the commission in 2007. Tom Bellamore, senior vice president and corporate counsel for the California Avocado Commission, said APEAM essentially has refiled the case that was dismissed without prejudice last September. “It is the commission’s position that that those claims then lacked merit and still do today,” he said.

Mexican exporters had hoped to settle the matter out of court, but the avocado commission’s board rejected a settlement proposal, said Emiliano Escobedo, APEAM’s U.S. representative in Los Angeles. “We had definitely hoped that the lawsuits were behind us, but they unfortunately are not,” he said. “What we really want is to sell more avocados and not have to fight anyone in court.”
The lawsuit states that less than two months after Mexico began shipping avocados into California in early 2007 the commission created significant disruption to the market and “severely damaged the ability of Mexican growers and packers to market their fruit,” according to a press release from APEAM.

The lawsuit charges that the California Avocado Commission spread falsehoods and disparaged Mexican avocados in ways that significantly reduced sales. Dale McNiel, Washington, D.C.-based lawyer for APEAM, said the lawsuit alleges trade defamation, interference with contractual relations, interference with prospective economic advantage, negligence and unfair competition. “The gist of the matter is that CAC made numerous public defamatory statements about Mexican avocados which contributed to the severe drop in demand during 2007 and to some extent continuing into the future,” he said.

Filed under Agriculture and Food, Mexico by

September 27, 2007

AT&T gives $500,000 to Mexican-American Opportunity Foundation

Press Release:

AT&T today announced a $500,000 contribution to be paid over the next two years to the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF), a community-based organization providing a wide range of family services to low-income residents throughout California. The contribution will fund a pilot program called “BeSchoolReady”, an Internet-based educational tool that introduces young children to computer technology through Internet-delivered learning modules designed to develop learning, language and cognitive skills. The purpose of the program is to prepare preschool students to begin their formal education and increase their chances of kindergarten success.

AT&T’s contribution will provide over 1,300 preschool students from low-income families within the next two years with the opportunity to use the BeSchoolReady program. For many children, and their parents, it will be a first-time experience with computers, so the project also helps to encourage technology literacy in the Latino community. MAOF preschool children are already using the BeSchoolReady web program at several Los Angeles County MAOF Centers.

“We are thrilled to partner with AT&T to help encourage technology literacy in the Latino community,” explained Martin Castro, MAOF President & CEO. “The launch of the BeSchoolReady program will help ensure our preschoolers are comfortable with computers and can be better prepared to succeed in the public school system when they enter kindergarten.”

Filed under Education and Training, Mexico, Philanthropy by

May 5, 2007

Mayor cuts trade mission to address LAPD clash with immigration protesters

“Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who cut short his trip to Central America and Mexico in the wake of the May Day clash between Los Angeles police and protesters, is scheduled to speak this afternoon about the matter, into which the FBI has opened an inquiry. The mayor, speaking to reporters Thursday in Mexico City on a stop during a trade mission, said he would welcome the FBI’s investigation into the violence at the end of mostly peaceful immigrant rights marches and rallies. The mayor, who was seeking to stimulate trade and encourage international cooperation in fighting street gangs, announced late Thursday night that he was flying back to Los Angeles today”

Filed under Foreign Relations, Immigration, Legal and Criminal Issues, Mexico by

May 1, 2007

Villaraigosa To Discuss Gangs, Tourism In El Salvador, Mexico Visits

“Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will travel Tuesday to El Salvador and Mexico to discuss ways to boost trade and stem the rising wave of gang members who illegally enter the United States. Villaraigosa will meet with business leaders, elected officials and law enforcement officials from both nations during the four-city trip, according to Villaraigosa’s office. He is scheduled to return to Los Angeles on May 9. Villaraigosa will also speak with executives from airlines based in Mexico and El Salvador to chart out new routes that will involve all of the facilities operated by the city agency that oversees Los Angeles International, Ontario International, Palmdale Regional and Van Nuys airports. Villaraigosa is also expected to discuss clean air initiatives with port officials in both nations. Villaraigosa’s trip will begin with a two-day stop in San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador, where he and Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton will meet with President Elias Antonio Saca to discuss trade and transnational gang violence. El Salvador, with a population of 6.8 million, logged an average of 10 homicides a day in 2006, about 70 percent of which were committed by gang members, according to the FBI. In February, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Saca announced a joint cross-border effort to combat Los Angeles-based Mara Salvatrucha and other street gangs. Villaraigosa will travel on Thursday to Mexico City, where he will meet with President Felipe Calderon and business leaders to discuss investment and business opportunities in Los Angeles. Villaraigosa will then stop in Guadalajara on May 8 and conclude his trip the following day in Leon, according to the mayor’s office.”

Filed under El Salvador, Foreign Relations, Mexico by

April 5, 2007

Cherokee signs licensing agreement with Mexican firm

“Cherokee Inc. has entered a multi-year international licensing agreement for its Cherokee brand with Comercial Mexicana, the company said Wednesday. The deal with the Mexican retailer covers a range of categories including men’s, women’s, children’s clothing, footwear, accessories and more, the company said in a release. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Van Nuys-based Cherokee Inc. is a marketer, licensor and manager of a variety of brands it owns, including Cherokee, Sideout, Carole Little and others, and is a consultant to the brands it represents.”

Filed under Fashion and Apparel, Mexico by

March 20, 2007

Mexicali group challenges plans for All-American Canal

“Mexico and the United States are in the middle of an international dispute over the 82-mile (132 kilometer) All-American Canal as a group of citizens in Mexicali, Mexico, is fighting to stop a 23-mile (37 kilometer) stretch of it from being lined with concrete. The Imperial Irrigation District (IID), the entity that provides water and energy to the Imperial Valley in California, have decided to line the All-American Canal as part of a water conservation project that would increase San Diego County’s water supply but decrease the supply to Mexicali farmers… he fight against the lining of the All-American was started by the business community of Mexicali, a border city in Baja California, Mexico. Entrepreneurs, lawyers and people involved with economic development started the litigation against the United States without any monetary or legislative support from the Mexican federal government.”

Filed under Mexico, Water and Wastewater by

March 19, 2007

Mexican President slams U.S. Border Policy

“Mexican President Felipe Calderon said Friday that U.S. border policies are marred by many “absurd” paradoxes that hurt the Mexican economy and force more Mexicans to migrate illegally to the United States. In an interview en route from Mexicali, Mexico, to Mexico City on his presidential jet, Calderon criticized construction of more border fencing and accused U.S. border agents of slowing the flow of commerce between the countries by sometimes failing to staff enough crossing booths. He also argued against plans to line with concrete the massive All-American Canal, which connects the Colorado River to farms in California. Calderon said the project would cut off groundwater that flows into Mexico and possibly hurt the businesses of Mexican farmers enough that they would need to migrate illegally to make a living.”

Filed under Immigration, Mexico, U.S. Government by

March 7, 2007

Costly border fence may fail

At least that is what the El Paso Times of Texas thinks:

San Diego: A 10-foot-high wall snakes along the U.S.-Mexico border south of here, and behind it another fence, steel mesh and even higher. Cameras sit atop 50-foot poles, and stadium lights can turn night here to day. It’s a daunting sight that looks utterly secure. Until you notice the dozens of divots. “Everywhere you see a divot, that’s where someone has gone over with a ladder,” said Damon Foreman, a young Border Patrol agent, pointing to the nicks across the top of the secondary fence. Sold for $5 on the Mexican side, the ladders are made of rebar and can be carried with one hand at a quick run. “Ten guys are over that fence in a minute,” Foreman said. For Department of Homeland Security officials trying to secure the country’s land borders, it’s a hard lesson: A $5 ladder trumps a $30 million fence.

Filed under Immigration, Mexico by

March 5, 2007

Chinese Billionaire may control Baja Port

“The Chinese company Hutchison Whampoa, owned by Chinese billionaire Li Ka Shing, controls 35 major ports in the world, including the four most important ports in Mexico. Hutchison is about to build a brand new port at Punta Colonet, a Baja California cove located just two hours south of the US border. Hutchison Ports Holding, part of the Hutchison Whampoa group, runs 35 ports including the Bahamas, Buenos Aires, and two in the Panama Canal. And again, it is owned by Li Ka Shing, China’s most influential billionaire who is known as ‘The Superman of the Orient’… Tijuana politician Jaime Martinez Veloz has alleged that Hutchison has a track record of power mongering and insider maneuvering in Mexico. Martinez said that Hutchison obtained the concession to operate the Lazaro Cardenas port using a method that Martinez described as ‘a vile swamp of transnational, governmental and business corruption.’ He added, ‘the favoritism and partiality of the Mexican port authorities towards the oriental consortium Hutchison has inexplicable reasons, but one day they will be known’. “

Filed under California Ports, China, Mexico by

Mexican official promotes benefits of Baja port project

“The mega container port and rail project planned 150 miles south of San Diego at Baja California’s Punta Colonet will benefit the United States as well as Mexico, a top Mexican federal official said yesterday. ‘This is a very important project. It’s a project that should be taken in the interest of both nations. Even though it’s on Mexican soil, the United States should be interested in this project,’ said Manuel Rodríguez Arregui, the Mexican subsecretary of transportation overseeing the project… Plans call for the Colonet port to be as large as the Los Angeles and Long Beach facilities combined. The new port would occupy nearly 7,000 acres”.

Filed under California Ports, Mexico by

February 27, 2007

Mexico Border Sewage plant clogged by politics

“When it rains along the border, millions of gallons of sewage and industrial waste from Mexican slums and factories flow down the Tijuana River into the United States and end up in the Pacific Ocean _ a mess that closed the beach here to swimmers and surfers a total of 198 days last year. The U.S. government once thought it had the solution: pay a developer an estimated $700 million to build and operate a treatment plant in Tijuana, Mexico. Under the agreement, if the plant could sell clean water to Mexican factories, U.S. taxpayers would get some of their money back by taking a share of the proceeds. But seven years later, ground has yet to be broken. And the agreement between the U.S. and Bajagua LLC is looking more fragile than ever amid growing criticism that the no-bid contract would fatten the developer’s pockets and fail to contain the sewage. This month, the Bush administration proposed a treatment plant on U.S. soil _ which would effectively kill the Mexico venture.”

Filed under Mexico, Water and Wastewater by

February 12, 2007

Latino outrage growing from Schwarzenegger’s recordings

Outrage, both real and staged, is growing as a result of the private recordings Governor Schwarzenegger made with his speech writer last year. A six-minute excerpt was first made public in September where Schwarzenegger and his Chief of Staff Susan Kennedy debated ethnic background of state Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia. After trying to decide whether she is Cuban or Puerto Rican, Schwarzenegger says: “They are all very hot. They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it”. Assemblywoman Garcia later said she was not offended by the remarks.

The tapes had been discovered on the Governor’s website by an aide to Democratic rival Phil Angelides, and Schwarzenegger clearly did not want any more of this information released. He essentially “called the cops” on Angelides by asking the State Police to investigate. Apparently as a result of the Police conclusion that no laws were broken in downloading material from a public government website, an additional remaining 3 1/2 hours has been made available from sources of the Los Angeles Times. Possibly the most damaging is where the Governor compare illegal immigrants to a guest who come into a family home where everyone is working, but who refuses to contribute and instead lays around reading a novel.

We see protesters carrying the Mexican flag, and stepping on the American flag, and speaking in Spanish and talking about, “We are going to stay”. So now imagine someone coming to your place and he has no place because his house burned down next door. Now, he comes to your house because of the misery he went through, or she went through, comes to your house now and you say, “Come on in for a week or two weeks until you get going.” And that person comes out and says, “I’m not going to move anymore. You know something, Gary? I’m here to fucking stay”.

The recordings are part of a brainstorming session, and in addition to saying things that might offend Latinos, he said some things they might like. He is apparently not in favor of any kind of mass deportations and doesn’t like the idea of a border wall.

Filed under Governor Schwarzenegger, Immigration, Mexico by

February 11, 2007

Baja California plans for a mega-port gets snaged

“A Baja California legislative panel has publicly rejected plans for the development of a megaport at Colonet, saying state government officials have failed to live up to promises to provide details of the massive project… The port is expected to cost as much as $9 billion and be as large as the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach combined. Although federal officials have begun courting global port and rail development companies and state officials reportedly have drawn a master plan, little information has seeped into the public domain.”

Filed under Freight and Logistics, Mexico by

February 8, 2007

Private tapes catch Schwarzenegger’s off-color opinions on Immigration

Daniel Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee has expressed the opinion that the most interesting part of the Governor’s private recordings is his “earthy, blunt assessment of the immigration issue”. This discussion, he thought, was “rare glimpse at a politician working through a tough issue, one on which he is conflicted, and seeing how his mind works” and, Weintraud says, “it wasn’t very pretty”. The Governor was speaking to his speechwriter Gary Delsohn at the time and said that the the 1986 amnesty had: “fucked the American people” because it legalized millions of immigrants while promising better enforcement of the border and employer sanctions, which never materialized”.

Governor Schwarzenegger compared the situation of illegal immigrants to “squatters” in Zimbabwe. “They come and land, you can’t then get rid of them”, he says. He then rather harshly compared them to house guests that come for a visit but don’t work and don’t leave, and he marveled at the “Plasa de Mexico” shopping mall that has been built in Linwood. “I was down there” he said, “Everyone only spoke Spanish, every shop was in Spanish, every sign was in Spanish. They create a Mexico within California”.

Schwarzenegger also said that it makes no sense to try to round up 12 million illegal immigrants or to split up extended families, and said he didn’t think the border fence would work because people could tunnel under it but he didn’t like it anyway because it reminds him of the Berlin Wall. “I come from a country where we had walls around castles, we had walls around houses, and we had walls around– we had the Berlin Wall- we had walls everywhere. But we always looked at the wall as kind of like the outside of the wall is the enemy. Are we looking at Mexico as the enemy? No, it’s not. These are our trading partners.”

The Sacramento Bee has publish transcripts of the Governor’s wide ranging opinions in these recording at this link.

Filed under Governor Schwarzenegger, Immigration, Mexico by

February 6, 2007

Mexico’s gangs take over crystal meth trade

Mexican drug-trafficking organizations have largely taken over the production and distribution of crystal methamphetamine in California, according to a report in the Arizona Republic. “As the raw materials become harder to get, small-time cooks are being put out of business. The Mexican cartels have rushed to fill the demand with California-based superlabs, which can produce more than 10 pounds of meth a day” the report said, “less sophisticated cooks are usually caught when neighbors notice chemical smells or suspicious people hanging around at odd hours. But the Mexican cartels have built their superlabs shacks in remote areas of California’s Central Valley”. The cartels’ labs in Mexico and California now produce about 80 percent of the meth in the United States, according to a November report by the U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center.

Filed under Legal and Criminal Issues, Mexico by

February 4, 2007

Mexican avocados finally head to California

Too late for the Superbowl, but Mexican trucks loaded with avocados headed north to the border on Friday, marking the final elimination of a decades-old U.S. ban on its import. Hundreds of locals in the western town of Uruapan, Mexico, waved at two trucks carrying Hass avocados bound for California and Florida, which along with Hawaii were the last states to lift a ban put in place in the early 1900′s as a measure to prevent plant disease.

Filed under Agriculture and Food, Mexico by

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