World’s richest man Carlos Slim continues to make waves among broadcasters and communications executives in Mexico.
Slim has been trying desperately to enter the TV market for months but has hit hurdles with Mexican authorities, perhaps keen to pander to rival broadcasters -- Emilio Azcárraga’s Televisa (TV) and Ricardo Salinas Pliegoas’ TV Azteca -- as elections loom.
Now Slim’s America Movil (AMX) has begun streaming “television” online, to the annoyance of rivals who insist that the company has no license to offer television services. Slim insists that streaming online is not television.
The crux of the dispute is clearly down to definition of “television” by authorities, slow to catch up with the convergence of traditional television and telephone services that were once separate.
The heavy-handed rivalry between Slim and his business foes has produced comedic gems such as when enemies took out a full-page ad in many Mexico newspapers entitled “The Slimsons,” parodying The Simpsons cartoon.
The ad slammed the cost, reliability and services offered by Slim’s companies operated by America Movil, including Telmex, Grupo Carso and Telcel.
There is no doubt though that the disputes will continue to provide more entertainment for Mexicans.
Death of Interior Minister
Mexico’s second highest official and one of the country’s leading figures in its fight against organized crime was killed last week in a helicopter crash along with seven others, just outside Mexico City.
José Francisco Blake Mora was the country’s Interior Minister and a close friend of President Felipe Calderón. His helicopter crashed en route to Cuernavaca. The accident is thought to be down to foggy weather rather than any assassination attempt, according to the government.
“The helicopter crashed while flying in a straight line and in clouds,” Communications and Transportation Minister Dionisio Perez-Jacome said. “There is no evidence of damage from explosion or fire.”
Three years ago this month, Juan Camilo Mouriño -- also an Interior Minister -- died in a plane crash over Mexico City. He was another close friend of Calderón who appeared “visibly distressed for many weeks,” after the death, writes Adam Thomson in the Financial Times.
At Blake Mora’s funeral service, Calderón described him as “one of my closest collaborators and dearest friends.” The two were the public faces of the government’s war on drugs which has been the cornerstone of Calderón’s presidency.
Since the president’s inauguration in December 2006, however, more than 45,000 people have lost their lives.
Organized crime has also cost Mexico $120 billion in security expenditures and lost investment since Calderón took office, according to Miami-based investment firm Bulltick Capital Markets. The huge increase in violence over the five years has almost certainly denied Calderón’s National Action Party (or PAN) the chance to win next year’s presidential election.
This paves the way for Enrique Peña Nieto, of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (or PRI) which governed Mexico for the 70 years leading up to 2000.
Candidates are beginning to put themselves forward for the election. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a firebrand leftist, has announced that he will stand for the Democratic Revolution Party (or PRD).
López Obrador came extremely close to winning against Calderón back in 2006. On losing that election, the 58-year-old organized huge street protests, claiming to have been the victim of fraud.
“Most recall with dread the six-week sit-in that [López Obrador] called in the heart of downtown Mexico City in contesting the election results, causing nightmarish commutes,” writes Sara Miller Llana in the Christian Science Monitor.
López Obrador is not expected to come close to the presidency this time round, trailing behind Peña Nieto’s 33% support, according to recent poll, with just 10%. The race for the presidency does not officially kick off until February 2012 and campaigning is officially not allowed until then.
European Crisis Continues to Hurt Mexico
Mexico’s economy is continuing to suffer from fallout from Europe, as its debt troubles push down the value of Mexican stocks. The IPC index fell 1.6% yesterday [Wednesday] to 36,708 points on a volume of $396 million. The country’s bigger companies such as cement-maker Cemex (CX), Wal-Mart de Mexico (WMT) and America Movil all fell.
Despite this, Mexican banks appear to be holding up with Banorte (GBOOF.PK) shares up 0.5%.