Friday, May 17, 2013
Osorio Chong: Institution’s prestige was put at risk
BY CIRCE VARGÓN
MEXICO CITY – Humberto Benítez Treviño, the head of Mexico’s Federal Consumer Protection Agency (Profeco), has been sacked over an incident in which the agency attempted to shut down a restaurant just hours after it refused to clear a table for Benítez Treviño’s daughter.
The Interior Secreteriat (Segob) announced on Wednesday that Benítez Treviño was removed as the head of the Profeco on the orders of President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong said the move sent a clear message to the nation’s public servants that “in addition to doing our jobs within the law, we are obligated to act ethically and with absolute professionalism.”
On April 26, Benítez Treviño’s daughter, Andrea Benítez, arrived at the Maximo Bistrot restaurant in Mexico City’s upmarket Roma district and demanded an outside table.
Restaurant owner Gabriela López said that when Andrea Benítez was asked to wait for the table, she said to waiters, “Do you know who my father is?” and threatened to call the Profeco. Two hours later, inspectors from the Profeco arrived at the restaurant and attempted to shut it down for supposed “anomalies” in its reservations system.
The incident went viral on social networks, with users dubbing Andrea Benítez “Lady Profeco.”
Three days later, an official investigation was launched. Osorio Chong said that the investigation found that Benítez Treviño had not ordered the Profeco to shut down the restaurant, but the incident had nevertheless put the institution’s reputation at risk.
The Obama administration's proposal to study fees for crossing the land borders of the United States met a dead end at a congressional committee today thanks to Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo.
The House Homeland Security Committee, by voice vote, approved Higgins' amendment blocking the Department of Homeland Security from studying such a border crossing fee, as Republicans and southern-border Democrats joined with Higgins to oppose the idea.
"This is a huge victory for Western New York and other communities across the Northern Border that rely on the seamless flow of people and goods between the U.S. and Canada to support our economies," Higgins said. "The fee would have put an unfair burden on residents who frequently travel across the border and the cost of the proposed study would have taken resources, already stretched thin, away from significantly more critical security needs."
The committee voted to attach Higgins amendment to a larger bill aimed at bolstering border security both at the northern and southern borders.
And while that larger bill, if passed, would become likely become part of the larger congressional debate on immigration reform, the bipartisan support Higgins won for his amendment makes it more likely that his measure will survive as the bill moves forward.
Collecting a fee on people crossing the U.S.-Canadian border and the U.S.-Mexican border would be counterproductive, other members of the committee said.
"This kind of a fee would be so chilling on an economy that's trying to be on the rebound here," said Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
We would like to wish all the mothers a wonderful Feliz Dia de las Madres and a Happy Mother's Day.
Below is an interesting Yuma Sun article about how Mother's Day comes two times a year along the US/Mexican border.
Mother's Day comes around twice along the border
May 09, 2013 4:23 PM
No matter that their mother passed away 20 years ago, Frances Murrietta and her siblings gather at her graveside in San Luis Rio Colorado, Son., every Mother's Day to honor her.
For them, Yolanda Sanchez de Valdez is alive in spirit and memory, if not in body.
“We sing to her, we bring her flowers,” said Murrietta.
Murrietta, the manager of the Somerton Library, planned to go to the cemetery across the border at the end of work Friday, since Mother's Day always falls on May 10 in Mexico, where her mother had lived.
But then Murrietta and her siblings and their families will gather again on Sunday for a potluck meal where they'll observe Mother's Day on the U.S. calendar.
In a border region where two nations' cultures and traditions mesh and mingle, Yuma-area residents whose roots go back to Mexico may opt for observing the holiday in Mexican custom or waiting for Sunday, or marking both days in a hybrid celebration of motherhood in keeping with the influences of both countries.
Visiting the grave of a departed mother on Mother's Day is common in Mexico. And while they live in United States, Murrietta says she and her siblings follow the same practice to honor their mother for instilling in them values they in turn have taught their own children.
“Though she's not near us, it's important to share the lessons that she taught us with our own children. Her foundations were so strong and unique. She continues to live for us in our hearts.”
In San Luis, Ariz., — where many residents are immigrants of Mexico or their children or grandchildren — “95 percent” of families will observe's Mexico's Mother's Day date, says Laura Sanchez, owner of Pro Evento, a party supply and venue provider.
A tradition in either country's celebration is to give flowers, and based on prior years' experience, Sanchez was expected to fill between 150 to 200 orders for floral arrangements in the days leading up to Friday.
While the father may be perceived as the stereotypical dominant figure in a Mexican or Latino family, said Sanchez, it is the mother who is the “pillar” for the children.
Father Javier Perez of Immaculate Conception Church agreed with Sanchez's analogy.
“There is no other love greater than a mother's,” said Perez, adding that the Mother's Day celebration carries huge symbolism in Mexico and in U.S. border communities.
Special Mother's Day masses will be offered Sunday at Immaculate Conception Church and the parishes of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Somerton and San Judas Tadeo on San Luis, Ariz., but the services will include a tradition from Mexico as “Las Mañanitas”.
Mañanitas are songs sung on birthdays and other holidays in Mexico, but families may also hire musicians to sing them as early morning serenades to wake up the mothers on Mother's Day.
Los Rezecos, a Yuma-based band that performs songs in a variety of Mexican musical genres, has been making the rounds among homes in Yuma and Somerton to sing Mother's Day mañanitas in each of the past 10 years.
For this year's celebration, the band planned to start at around 10 p.m. Thursday in Yuma, sing a set of three songs to the mothers of 20 to 25 households, then move on to Somerton, where it would visit a similar number of homes, Los Rezecos member Argel Garcia said. He figured that band would finish its rounds by about 5 or 6 Friday morning.
The youngest members of the family were getting an opportunity of their own at Yuma County libraries to honor their mothers.
At the county library branch in San Luis, children were making tissue paper floral arrangements for their moms in a craft session, while in the Somerton library, they were making greeting cards.
“This is a good way to teach the children how to be creative using their own words and their own talents,” said Murrietta.
And the library sessions happened soon enough for the kids to finish their gifts in time for either Mother's Day.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
By U.S. Sen. Susan Collins
May 09, 2013 2:00 AM
Growing up in Caribou, barely 10 miles from New Brunswick, I saw every day that on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border are the lifelong friends and family members, the shopping, medical services, churches, and all the other things that make a community. From Jackman to Fort Kent to Calais, Mainers understand the principle that, while America's borders must be closed to our enemies, they must always be open to our friends.
For that reason alone I and people throughout Maine were alarmed by the recent announcement that the Department of Homeland Security's proposed 2014 budget includes funding to study the feasibility and cost of instituting a fee for anyone crossing into our country by land — on foot, on a bike, or in a car — from Canada or Mexico. This is a bad idea that should be abandoned. And, as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I have taken action to prevent scarce federal funds from being used for this ill-conceived purpose.
Any fee, no matter how small, would have a negative impact on the day-to-day commerce and travel between border communities. It would unduly penalize families who have relatives on either side of the border. In addition, it would damage relations between the United States and the neighbors that are vital trading partners. The Canadian ambassador told me that Canadians, too, are alarmed at the prospect of such a fee.
Maine's biggest trading partner, not surprisingly, is Canada. At the national level, too, America's biggest trading partner is Canada and Mexico is third. Our goal should be to enhance ties with our neighbors, not put what would be unnecessary barriers in place. In addition to our strong economic ties, we must preserve the friendships the United States enjoys with Canada and Mexico. Singling out our neighbors for a fee that would apply only to them would damage those relationships.
This fee would also hurt American border communities. According to the Maine International Trade Center, more than 300,000 people cross the U.S.-Canada border each day. Many American communities and businesses along the northern border rely on trade and tourism to power their economies, and imposing a land border fee on individuals would deter Canadians from visiting the United States. A decrease in tourism and travel would have a detrimental impact on these border communities. It would be truly ironic for the Department of Homeland Security, after investing significant taxpayer dollars in improving border facilities at such places as Calais, Van Buren and Jackman, to now adopt a policy that undoubtedly would cause a significant drop in their use.
While I recognize the difficult fiscal challenges facing the federal government, including the Department of Homeland Security, imposing a border crossing fee for individuals crossing the border over land is not a sustainable solution to our budgetary concerns. For that reason, I am asking my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to join me in blocking this misguided proposal. Current federal law bars the U.S. Treasury and the attorney general from charging and collecting any fee for the immigration inspection and pre-inspection of passengers arriving over land at a U.S. port of entry whose journey originated in Canada or Mexico. This prohibition should be maintained.
One of the best examples of our special relationship with Canada is the "Hands Across the Border" summer festival, which demonstrates just how much the two municipalities of Calais, Maine, and St. Stephen, New Brunswick, truly are one community. We must not permit the hands of friendship from becoming hands demanding payment.