Mexico’s ruling Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party—PRI) announced its support on Wednesday for an opposition proposal to increase the 5 percent tax on junk food set out in President Enrique Peña Nieto’s fiscal reform plan. The tax would be applied to purchases of high-calorie foods including chocolates, sweets, puddings, potato chips and ice cream, but would not be applied to hamburgers or tacos.
Last week, the lower house of Congress approved the fiscal reform package with a 5 percent tax on junk food, and Armando Rios Piter, a Senate finance expert from the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (Democratic Revolution Party—PRD), proposed increasing the tax to 8 percent. On Wednesday, PRI Senate leader Emilio Gamboa said that his party would “undoubtedly support” the tax increase. If Piter’s plan is formally adopted, the reform bill would go back to the lower house, before being sent to the Senate for a final vote.
If the bill is passed by both chambers with the 8 percent tax provision included, the reform will contribute nearly 2.7 percent of GDP to government coffers by 2018 according to Deputy Finance Minister for Revenue Miguel Messmacher. The tax reform bill is a key part of the President Peña Nieto’s Pacto por México, a series of reforms agreed upon by Mexico’s three main political parties in 2012 that range from education and energy to security and telecommunications.
On July 25, Andrés Manuel López Obrador emerged from his long self-imposed silence, took to a stage in the heart of Mexico City and announced his intention to run for president in 2012. It was not unexpected, as ridiculous as his candidacy may seem to many.
Plaza Zócalo was filled with supporters welcoming “El Peje,” as López Obrador is known, and chanting “Es un honor, estar con Obrador” (It’s an honor to support Obrador). Confetti flew, arms raised in unison and slogan-covered signs flourished among a group that, once again, threw their hearts and hope at the once and future candidate.
This scene brings to mind the magical town of Macondo, created by Gabriel García Márquez in Cien años de soledad, where the whole population loses its ability to remember. And as in the Macondo of Cien años, it seems we in Mexico need our own José Arcadio to figure out how to get the population to remember again.
Following the assassination of Rodolfo Torre Cantú, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) candidate for governor of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas on Monday morning, the PRI national committee chose his brother, Egidio Torre Cantú, today as his replacement on the ballot for this Sunday’s elections. His selection was approved by the PRI committee based on “his honesty and social acceptance, ideological convictions and the work he has done on behalf of the party.”
Egidio Torre Cantú is a civil engineer and previously held public office from September 2000 to December 2001 as mayor of Ciudad Victoria. However, his candidacy has also raised some controversy as he is also the owner of a company which has received public contracts valued at 166.5 million pesos (US$13 million) since 2005. Those contracts were awarded by the current governor, Eugenio Hernández, also a member of the PRI, raising allegations of favoritism in Egidio’s selection as substitute candidate. The current administration claims no wrongdoing or favoritism in awarding Mr. Cantú’s company, Servicios de Ingeniería Tohesa, the contracts, which were awarded through both non-competitive and competitive bids. Further debate will decide whether Mr. Cantú’s election might violate laws governing public servants and their private enterprises.
At the time of his assassination, Rodolfo Torre Cantú was expected to win this Sunday’s elections. The assassination, blamed on hitmen affiliated with the drug cartels of the border state, follows the murder of the mayor of Guadalupe, Jesús Manuel Lara Rodríguez, just over a week ago, also attributed to narco-traffickers.