We should have taken advantage of Calderón’s strategy

It is often thought that President Felipe Calderón’s strategy to fight organized crime in Mexico was based only on reactive methods, but nothing was further from reality. Only part of the strategy focused on Joint Operations carried out by the Army, the Navy, the Federal Police, and the General Attorney’s Office. So, what was Calderón’s strategy?

We must remember that in 2008 various criminal justice reforms were approved, through which we moved from an inquisitive to an adversarial system. Likewise, the Federal Police Law was approved, through which it was given powers to generate intelligence work, and it was also endowed with a professional career system, different divisions, and it was intended that the states approve in their local Congresses laws to modernize their police forces to make them “mirrors” of the Federal Police.

In addition, Mexico Platform was created as the only criminal information system at the national level. These reforms contemplated the approval of secondary laws such as the National Law on the Execution of Criminal Sentences, which modified how we understand the measures and sentences involving deprivation of liberty. In other words, one of the pillars of Felipe Calderón’s strategy was the modernization of the criminal justice apparatus as a means of increasing the probability that each crime committed would be sanctioned and that it would discourage violence.

In terms of the prevention of violence, we have to remember that there was no regulatory framework in this area, so there were no labeled resources for this purpose either. The only resources to prevent violence were those granted to states and municipalities through subsidies known as FASP and SUBSEMUN. Thus, it was in 2012 that the General Law for the Social Prevention of Violence and Crime was approved, which establishes the bases for the coordination of the three levels of government in this area. With this law, it was possible to obtain specific resources for the prevention of violence. However, it was the responsibility of the Enrique Peña Nieto government to implement this law. Despite not having this regulatory framework, the Calderón government took programs from different agencies and coordinated them to work on violence prevention. This is how -for example- the “Todos Somos Juárez” strategy was generated, achieving good results in reducing violence rates.

Regarding economic strategies, in 2008 the Calderón government formulated the National Strategy for the Prevention and Combat of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, through which the exchange of information between agencies was strengthened. Likewise, it sought to strengthen the legal framework in this matter. This strategy led to the approval of the Federal Law for the Prevention and Identification of Operations with Resources of Illicit Origin, which institutionalized the intersecretary coordination, but was approved until October 2012, for which reason it was also the responsibility of Peña Nieto to implement it.

When former President Felipe Calderón says that his strategy against organized crime did not depend on a single person, this when asked about the arrest of his Secretary of Public Security, Genaro García Luna, is true. Their strategy was more than just federal forces operations against criminal groups. Their strategy was comprehensive and with a trans-sexennial vision. Due to the political-electoral landscape, people tend not to see the strategy in all its dimensions and subsequent administrations chose to dismantle it. Perhaps if we had continued with this strategy, we would not be seeing the levels of violence that we are experiencing.

-Ricardo Solano Olivera, MSc.

Automation and COVID-19, the greatest danger for workers

The West, primarily the United States, tends to blame low-wage countries – such as China and Mexico – for job losses. However, the greatest job losses are due to automation. Thus, automation based on robotics has improved the productivity of various industries. Artificial intelligence has advanced in the financial, transportation, defense and energy management fields. The Internet of Things, driven by the development of high-speed networks and remote sensors, has improved connectivity between people and businesses.

According to a report by the Brookings Institute, a quarter of US jobs are at risk of being replaced by the advancement of artificial intelligence. Jobs considered “high risk” include about 36 million jobs in office administration, production, transportation and food preparation. The tasks performed in these sectors often contain physical work, information gathering and routine processing activities, which makes more than 70 percent of the tasks potentially subject to automation. To give some examples, 100 percent of the tasks of the operators of packaging and filling machines, as well as ophthalmic laboratories can be automated; as well as 91.4 percent of the tasks performed by food preparation workers.

On the other hand, an analysis published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development concludes that approximately 10 percent of jobs in advanced economies face automation. However, research from Oxford University establishes that the proportion of jobs at risk in the United States is almost 50 percent.

These data should be reassessed due to the appearance of the Wuhan coronavirus or COVID-19. Just in the first few months since the world was alerted of a possible pandemic, Apple cut its sales forecast due to quarantine protocols, Jaguar Land Rover in Britain announced that it could run out of auto parts at its assembly plants, MGA Entertainment, whose toys are made in Guangdong, noted that its production fell 60% compared to the same period last year, Grupo Bimbo temporarily closed one of its 10 plants in China.

In view of this panorama, in the short term we could see an acceleration in the automation of processes, this in view of the fact that human capital is highly vulnerable to the emergence of new diseases and, in particular, due to the depth of this crisis in the manufacturing sector. Today, supply chains are highly vulnerable because they are diversified around the world; thus, any interruption in one of the parts generates significant losses. In this case, with China and Southeast Asia being important centers of manufacturing production and distribution, the interruptions due to the policies that have had to be adopted to prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus have had repercussions in the world economy.

It is highly probable that, in the short term, the industrial sector will highly invest in profound changes in its production systems to take advantage of the technological advances of robotics, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things to shield its operations from interruptions caused by the inherent vulnerability of human beings. How will governments face this expected scenario?

The truth is that governments are not prepared for a change of such magnitude in industrial production. The instincts of politicians will be focused on recovering lost work instead of allowing people to do less; that is, populist policies.

However, governments will have to rethink their labor policies to adapt to a world with greater technological advances. Thus, fewer people should be allowed to work full time or rethink the term “full time” based on the improvement of productivity. While governments come to these discussions and, above all, to reform their labor laws, we will face a social crisis with low wages and higher unemployment rates. In the short term, governments will not be able to adequately address the problems caused by automation.


Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

The largest free trade region in the world

Under the leadership of Beijing, 15 countries concluded last Monday the negotiations to create the largest free trade zone in the world. The so-called Regional Integral Economic Association is made up of China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei. These countries represent 47% of the population and 32.2% of world GDP.

Thus, with this negotiation and with the strategy called New Silk Road, China not only expands its influence worldwide, but also positions itself as a decisive player in multilateralism and free trade. Thus, Beijing is filling power gaps left by the United States when it decided to turn its economic policies and its foreign policy of international free trade systems and international regimes to protect Human Rights to protectionist and isolationist policies. For this reason, the international concert needs a player large and stable enough to protect trade regimes from protectionism. China is taking the lead in opening markets and not closing the international free trade system.

As in most economic agreements in which China participates, issues related to the protection of Human Rights, such as labor and environmental rights, are left out of the treaty, and full attention is given to the reduction of tariffs. This is precisely the characteristic that makes many countries that do not commit to the protection of Human Rights seek commercial alliances with China and not with Europeans or North America. China does not condition its treaties to the observance of Human Rights.

Without a doubt, this new commercial alliance will generate noise to Mexico. It is very likely that when this AEIR enters into force, supply chains in Southeast Asia will expand and lower production costs. In addition, today, the economies that form this alliance are more stable than Mexico, who has a high probability of falling into recession and where the current administration has undermined economic certainty by making erratic decisions.

Thus, Mexico’s comparative advantage over Asian economies is its proximity to the United States. Therefore, beyond the ratification of the T-MEC, Mexico must continue to improve export channels to the US market, reducing travel times and waiting times in customs ports. That Mexico is more efficient in exporting to the US. UU. It can make all the difference between continuing to attract investment or that capitals move to Southeast Asia.

Ricardo Solano Olivera, MSc.


Column originally published at https://laopinion.de/2019/11/05/la-mayor-zona-de-libre-comercio-en-el-mundo/

Photo by Sam Albury on Unsplash

The second wave of the indignant voter

The phenomenon of the indignant electorate, which was a decisive factor in elections throughout the world since the middle of this decade, is still in the fight, now in the form of demonstrations – some violent – the same in Baghdad, Port-au-Prince and in Santiago. And although the origin of each one of the mobilizations in the world today is different, their common denominator is that they have evolved towards asking for deep economic transformations. We can see in a very marked way in Chile – for example – demonstrations against neoliberalism. But it is not only against the neoliberal policies implemented in these countries, this has to do with the fact that these policies have not narrowed the inequality gaps. Thus, protesters feel oblivious to the benefits achieved by free trade and globalization.

And of course, these manifestations have the potential to, on the one hand, expand to other countries and, on the other, to continue generating regime changes and surprising governments. Just as at the time populist parties emerged that gathered the concerns of the first wave of this outraged electorate, this second wave of mobilizations could result in not only the fall of governments, but the emergence of parties both from the extreme right and from left in countries that had traditionally been oblivious to these political positions; As happened in Brazil.

Undoubtedly, in Mexico, this indignant electorate was a decisive factor for the triumph of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the last elections. Although in Mexico there have been no manifestations of the size and proportions that in the rest of the world, Morena was the party that managed to rise with the flag of change in a country with great inequalities and with a long history of corrupt governments and – well – capitalize on this indignant electorate.

What we see, however, is that the electorate is not willing to wait for changes. After the disastrous Kirchner administrations in Argentina, the electorate voted for a change with Mauricio Macri. However, the slow changes of the Macri government to rebuild the country caused the electorate to give Kirchnerism the victory again.

This is a great lesson for Morena. The electorate is not willing to wait for the changes that shorten the inequality gaps. The same supports new political expressions that return to traditional parties, as happened in Spain. Nor will the electorate in Mexico expect the lopezobradorist government to generate profound changes, which was the reason they favored it in the voting. Today we see clearly that not fulfilling campaign promises is the main powder store to detonate mass demonstrations throughout the world. If the López Obrador government does not generate results in reducing inequality in Mexico, we could see manifestations of this draft before the end of its six-year term in our country.

Ricardo Solano Olivera, MSc.


Column originally published at https://laopinion.de/2019/10/29/la-segunda-ola-del-electorado-indignado/

What is happening in Syria?

In early October, the US government announced the withdrawal of its armed forces from northern Syria. This movement, said President Donald Trump, was aimed at the direct protagonists of the conflict taking on the task of resolving the situation in the region. However, this maneuver left American allies in the war against Daesh, the Kurds of northern Syria (YPG).

Turkey considers the YPG Kurdish militia as a terrorist group as it links them with the Kurdish separatists in their own country grouped in the PKK. Thus, the US withdrawal from the area left the way open for Turkey to initiate a military operation against the Kurds. Thus, on October 9, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan initiated Operation Peace Source against the Kurds in Syria. Turkey seeks to create a safe zone on the 440 km border with Syria, currently controlled by the YPG.

Given the international claims against the actions of both the US and Turkey, and the voices that were raised within the US Congress, on Thursday, October 17, Vice President Mike Pence agreed with President Erdogan to cease fire for 120 hours.

To this is added that under the pretext of patrolling the areas left by both the US and the YPG, Russia has been occupying positions, filling power gaps left by the US armed forces and the Kurds. With this, Russia is increasingly playing a more prominent role in the Syrian conflict. Recall that Moscow is an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and that these actions are framed in the agreements between both countries to recover territory in favor of the Syrian government.

Given this, Presidents Erdogan and Putin will meet in Sochi since the actions of Ankara and Moscow have the risk of generating disagreements between the two countries in northern Syria. In addition, it remains to be seen if the ceasefire agreed between Turkey and Washington continues or if Ankara decides to resume military operations against the YPG. This depends on whether the YPG completely leaves the Syrian-Turkish border, that is, they must move at least 30 kilometers from the border.

However, this game of realpolitik in Syria shows that the US has intentionally lost influence in the region, giving it to Moscow. For his part, Putin has the opportunity to bring Ankara closer to his area of ​​influence. Take into account that Turkey is part of NATO but that, in the face of its actions against the Kurds, countries such as Spain and Germany stopped the sale of weapons. This can cause Erdogan to end up aligned with Russian interests and even reach agreements that overlook the interests of the other countries involved: Iran, Saudi Arabia and the EU. Meanwhile, the fate of the Kurds who helped defeat Daesh remains in the air.

Ricardo Solano Olivera, MSc.


Column originally published at https://laopinion.de/2019/10/23/que-esta-pasando-en-siria/