OJO  \ o-ho \
An Eye on Mexico
Audaxia Newsletter
July 2022


Kenton SchaeferFor Audaxia Logística

Welcome to OJO. And thank you for joining us again. We have an interesting issue this month which we hope will be both informative and entertaining for our readers. In industry news, we see much of the same as the last few months. The Mexican President continues to push his nationalist agenda in the energy sector, which many argue destabilizes the country’s investment appeal. Thankfully however, we still continue to see some margin of economic activity. International corporations do continue to look to Mexico as a supplement to other operations around the world, and cargo movements today remain strong across the land. That said, there is some concern that steel pricing is affecting the country’s outlook with tonnages expected to decrease over the coming months.

In national news, we see more interesting developments in the country’s aviation industry with the Halcón 2, the first airplane completely designed and built in Mexico. A Free Trade agreement is finalized with South Korea, and the Mexican Finance Ministry continues to battle record inflation, following suit in large part with American tactics and interest rates.

In cultural news, we have an interesting glance into the last moments of Pancho Villa’s life, and the events which took place before and after his assassination. We highlight an American steel icon in Pennsylvania, and look at an incredible work of steel landscape art in Spain. We also take a quick glance into a brief period in architecture history, Brutalism, and it’s place in Mexico. All with the end of giving our international readers an alternative tool to better understand Mexico within our steel and shipping industries. Bienvenidos a OJO.

Kenton Schaefer
Schaefer Stevedoring
For Audaxia Logística
A Schaefer Americas company

Email me directly.

This Month's Highlights

South Korea and Mexico Initiate their Free Trade Accord
External Relations Secretary confirmed that Minister Marcelo Ebrand and his South Korean counterpart Park Jin agreed to initiate the terms of their Free Trade Agreement between both nations.
South Korea’s Posco Invests $136 Million USD in New Plant in Mexico.
Posco’s $136 Million USD investment breaks ground this month in Ramos Arizpe with an initial investment of $43 Million USD, eventually reaching the $136 Million USD by 2030.
Samsung to Invest $500 million in Mexico, Foreign Minister Says
Samsung Electronics will invest $500 million in Mexico in Tijuana and Queretaro to increase production of home appliances in the country, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Monday.
Heineken to Expand Mexico Operations with $90 Million USD Plant
Heineken will build a 1.8 Billion peso, or $90 Million USD, can manufacturing plant in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua near its brewery in the town of Mequoi, the company said on Monday.
Continental Announces Construction of New Plant in San Luis Potosi
The German technology company Continental reiterates its confidence in the state and will expand its hydraulic business in North America. With a planned investment of $40 Million USD, it announced the construction of a new state-of-the-art hydraulic hose production plant in San Luis Potosí. This in order to increase and complement its manufacturing capabilities within the region and beyond.
Le Bélier Inaugurates its Plant in Guanajuato
Le Bélier is a French company that manufactures aluminum molded components for the automotive and aeronautical markets. The new complex is located in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. The company has invested $102.2 Million USD.
Mexico Central Bank Makes Record Rate Increase, Flags More Hikes
The Bank of Mexico increased its benchmark interest rate by a record 75 basis points to 7.75%, saying it would hike rates again and by as much if necessary to tame inflation that has surged to double its target.
Mexico’s Environment Ministry Denies Permit for Audi Solar Plant
Mexico’s environment ministry said on Friday it rejected a key environmental permit for a solar power plant that German automaker Audi has proposed to build near its factory in the central Mexican state of Puebla.
Mexico’s Largest Oil Refinery Opens to Fanfare, but Not Yet Operational
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador formally opened a major new oil refinery on Friday, a signature project for the leftist leader who argues it will help the country cut a longstanding dependence on foreign gasoline and diesel supplies. The Olmeca refinery owned and operated by state-run oil company Pemex is billions of dollars over budget and still under construction, but that did not stop Lopez Obrador from headlining a splashy inauguration ceremony at the facility built just off the Gulf coast port of Dos Bocas in his home state of Tabasco.
The Netherlands Retains Interest in Developing Projects in Queretaro
There are at least eight Dutch investments with the intention of materializing in Queretaro: five new projects and three expansions. The representative of the Netherlands Business Support Office (NBSO) of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Steven Büter, confirmed the interest of investors in developing projects in the state.
Dubai Opens Chamber of Commerce Office in Mexico
The Dubai Chamber of Commerce opened its offices in Mexico, seeking to strengthen trade relations and investment opportunities in both countries. “Mexico is Dubai’s second partner and we see that it can become the main trading partner,” said Hamad Buamim, SEO and president of the Dubai Chamber. In 2021, with $1.2 Billion USD, Mexico was Dubai’s second largest trading partner, behind only Brazil. The Middle Eastern country’s imports from Mexico reached $1.1 Billion USD.
100% Mexican-Designed and Built Plane Takes its Maiden Flight, Makes History
The first 100% Mexican built and designed plane completed its first official flight on Monday as its manufacturer seeks to have its airworthiness certified. José Javier Barbosa Castro piloted the Halcón 2 two-seater light-sport aircraft during its maiden flight, which departed the airport in Celaya, Guanajuato, at midday. The historic flight was the first of 50 the aircraft must complete in order to obtain a type certificate signifying its airworthiness. They announced that Horizontec was investing more than $10 Million USD in a new plant at the Celaya airport where the Halcón 2 will be made. Production is expected to commence in September once the plane is fully certified to fly in Mexican airspace. The company envisions making up to 20 planes per year and employing 140 people.
Differences Among Top Automotive Manufacturing Regions in Mexico: How do Suppliers Select Best Locations?
Features Gary Swedback. Mr. Swedback is CEO of NAI Mexico and NAI PanAmericas, part of the NAI Global network, a leading industrial and commercial real estate firm. NAIMexico operates 25 offices across Mexico and Latin America, and works with many global customers, including those in the auto industry. Gary is a sought-after speaker on Mexico & Latin America industry and business issues.


US Imports for Consumption of Monitored Steel
  April '22/YTD April '21/YTD
Country Quantity in MT* Variation*
Canada 498,746 +3.18%
Mexico 355,680 +62.13%
Brazil 76,319 -74.13%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau 
* Metric tons

HRC Spot Price Mexico
Price * % Monthly % YTD
1,118* -6.05% -22.09%

Source: Reporte Acero
* As of June 22nd 2022
** U.S. dollars per metric ton

Exchange Rate: Mexican Peso
30 Day Average & Volatility
Currency 30 Day
30 Day
🇺🇸 1 USD 20.34 MXN 0.60%
🇪🇺 1 EUR 21.00 MXN 0.38%
🇨🇳 1 CNY 3.03 MXN 0.57%
🇯🇵 1 JPY 0.14 MXN 0.71%
🇬🇧 1 GBP 24.57 MXN 0.37%

Steel in Art & Culture

The Wind Comb, Spain

In San Sebastián, Spain, we can find one of the most interesting examples of public steel art, especially considering it’s constantly exposed to salt water. The ‘Peine del Viento’, or The Wind Comb, was completed in 1976 by sculptor Eduardo Chillida and architect Luis Peña Ganchegui. The collection of 3 sculptures sits at the western end of the world renown La Concha Bay, with each weighing approximately 10 metric tons. Embedded into the natural rock along the Cantabrian Sea, the viewing experience is further enhanced with blow-holes created nearby that shoot wave-driven water and air forcefully upwards through the ground. The entire work is a testament to the combination of art and landscape, and is a supremely unique fusion between steel and the sea.

Steel Works

U.S. Steel Tower, Pennsylvania
On September 30th, 1971, U.S. Steel Tower held its opening dedication and became Pittsburgh’s tallest building, an honor it still holds today. Home to United States Steel Corporation, the 64-story skyscraper is over 840ft tall and made of over 40,000 Metric Tons of structural steel produced at the U.S. Steel Homestead Works facility. Immediately recognizable by it’s triangular shape, the building’s Cor-Ten steel exterior protects the building from the corrosive effects brought on by rain, snow, ice, and fog, by forming a protective coating of dark brown oxidation to the metal. We’ve featured works of Cor-Ten steel before, and like the others, the color and overall look of the building’s steel exterior is one of high quality and thoughtful consideration. It’s solid and serious. Something the good corporation most certainly wanted to convey.

The building is also no stranger to Hollywood having been in several movies, tv series, music videos, and video games. Popular movies such as The Dark Knight Rises and Jack Reacher bring forth the power and style of the structure.

U.S. Steel Tower is a proud monument to American industry and strength of the mid to late 1900’s. And the building stands tall as a premier example of steel construction.


When in Mexico

Brutalism in Mexico
Mexico has some of Latin America’s most wonderful examples of Brutalist architecture the region has to offer from the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s, such as Palmas 555 (above) in Mexico City.

Brutalism is considered to have originated in Europe in the mid 1900’s. Most will say that it started in England, but a few will credit French master architect Le Corbusier as the father of the style. Post-WWII created an urgent need for new buildings with sparse materials in Europe. Concrete was still generally available, and it became the more noticeable material in Brutalism at that time. Natural-colored surfaces, unfinished walls, and interiors with exposed steel, give a generally heavy feel to the buildings and are some of the key things taken away when looking at a solid work of Brutalist architecture. The buildings are brutes. The urgent need to rebuild was felt in all sorts of building and construction. Jens Rissom made one of his most famous chairs out of Parachute straps for the webbing of the now-iconic Rissom Chair. The Post-WWII era brought on a resourcefulness that created some of the worlds most interesting products and interesting practices.

It is that resourcefulness that may have contributed to Brutalism having it’s moment in Latin America. The greatest examples go back to the 50’s in Argentina and Brazil, and make their way into Mexico at around the late 60’s and 70’s. The style was meant to convey high functionality. Function over form. Interiors exposed messy mechanical works, and the exteriors appeared awkward, crude, and even ordinary. The buildings were a contrast to the aesthetically minded International Style works (such as the Seagram Building in New York City - highlighted by OJO in a past issue) which had a sort of glamour that Brutalism sought to avoid. They were buildings that worked and satisfied a basic need.

Today, you can see contemporary versions of Brutalist inspired homes, private offices, and even government buildings. Included here is a lovely home in Baja California Sur. This Mexican Peninsula retreat is certainly aspirational, but it also paints a beautiful picture of Mexico and what it can offer. Both Brutalism, and the visual imagery in projects such as this home, help to understand an often overlooked consideration of what Mexico is. It has a feel, like many other places in the world. And to best operate in the country, it’s important to understand that feel.

This Month in Mexican History

The Assassination of Pancho Villa
On July 20th, 1923, one of the most well-known and controversial figures of the Mexican Revolution was assassinated in an ambush while going to the bank in Parral, Chihuahua, where he kept a ranch and always felt safe. Believed to be on the orders of then President Alvaro Obregón and his soon to be incumbent Plutarco Elías Calles, Pancho Villa was gunned down in his 1919 Dodge alongside 3 other people who rode with him. Villa was typically surrounded by many armed guards, but oddly that day he only had 3. After finishing at the bank, and on his way home, they passed by the local school when a man ran out and shouted “Viva Villa!”, which was the signal for a group of 7 riflemen to jump out into the road and open fire. 40 rounds were shot into the automobile, and Villa was dead. Only 1 bodyguard barely survived, and 1 assassin was killed. Of the 6 surviving assassins, 2 spent a few months in jail, and the other 4 were commissioned into the army. A man named Jesús Barranza took responsibility for the assassination to protect the President and his Incumbent from prosecution. Outraged by the murder, the people wanted justice for Villa’s death and demanded Barranza be jailed. He was sentenced to 20 years, served only 3 months, and became a Colonel in the Army.

It is said that the assassination was carried out because Villa wanted to run for President in the upcoming elections of 1924. And because he was so loved by the people, President Obregón (who could not run again as his term limit was ending) wanted another man which he could control to take his place. That man was Calles. In an effort to keep power in their hands, Obregón and Calles (it’s speculated) orchestrated the assassination with the help of others. General mayhem ensued after the assassination, but for the most part nobody paid any real price for the crime.

President Obregón ran again (unopposed) in the 1928 election after then President Calles (Mexico’s Presidents served a single 4 year term then, only later extending them to single 6 year terms as they are today). Presumably, there was an agreement between the two which would allow Obregón to return to power as President after Calles’ term ended. However, before Obregón was able to take control of his second term as President, he himself was assassinated by a Roman Catholic who opposed the governments anticlerical policies of the time. That man was later executed by firing squad.

In 1926, Villa’s skull was stolen from his grave site in Parral, Chihuahua. It was believed to have been taken by an American treasure hunter who stole the skull on commission by a high-paying collector of such things. And it remains missing to this day. It is rumored that the skull is possibly in the possession of Yale University’s Skull & Bones Society. But only a few will know if that’s true. Today, Villa’s incomplete remains are kept in the Monument to the Revolution in Mexico City. Incredibly, Presidents Obregón and Calles are buried there too. Both lying next to the very man they are believed to have killed.
Audaxia Logística

OJO is a monthly newsletter combining top steel and shipping news impacting Mexico with relevant cultural interests. Created for the international community, OJO means to further enrich the businesspersons’ commercial experiences with the Latin-American nation.
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