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Flu vaccine finally arrives at the source

Mexico receives its first shipments of H1N1 vaccine. A proposal would legalize same-sex marriage in Mexico City. In more conservative Veracruz, lawmakers want to outlaw abortion. An American boy is the latest casualty of the violence in Cuidad Juarez, and Texans are held captive and robbed. NASA space walker Jose Hernandez wants to help with a Mexican space program. Fitch downgrades Mexico's debt, but stocks are at a 17-month high. And Zacatecas attracts tourists with a museum upgrade.

 Top News: The first batch of H1N1 vaccine arrived in Mexico on Nov. 23. The 865,000 doses, purchased from a European pharmaceutical company, are to be given to health workers and pregnant women, officials said. Health Minister Jose Cordova assured the nation that the vaccine is safe, following reports of side effects of vaccine in Canada. The first cases of the H1N1 pandemic were traced to Mexico in March this year, and the country has confirmed 573 deaths from the virus since.


In the liberal heartland of Mexico City, a legislator introduced a proposal to put gay marriage on the statute books. The capital, ruled by a leftist government for the last decade, has already legalized same-sex civil unions, but the new bill will make no distinction between these and regular marriages. The government has also adopted a limited euthanasia program, and legalized abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.


But fighting back from the conservative side, lawmakers in the Gulf state of Veracruz hardened their legislation against abortion. The assembly ruled that life begins at conception and voted in favor of a proposal demanding that federal government take the reins and outlaw abortion across the nation.


Most Mexicans, however, are less concerned about the culture wars and more about the real wars on their streets. One of the latest victims of assassins’ bullets was a 7-year old American citizen, who was shot dead alongside his father in the unwieldy border town of Ciudad Juarez. Jociel Ramirez attended school in El Paso but lived south of the river, and became one of the more than 2,000 homicide victims in Juarez this year. Police do not know the motive of the attack.


Other Texans are also feeling the pinch of the violence and insecurity in northern Mexico. Reports on Nov. 23 revealed that a group of nine Houston hunters were held by some 15 armed men south of the border and robbed of about $50,000 in cash and jewels. The hunters were businessmen and retirees who had been hunting white-wing doves in Mexico for years. They said they were held for an hour and beaten before they were released. Many say they will never go back to Mexico.


But sometimes, the United States can be a dangerous place for Mexicans too. Libardo Caraveo, a native of Ciudad Juarez, was buried in the Arlington National cemetery on Nov. 25. Caraveo had immigrated to the U.S. as a young man, joined the military and was one of the victims of the Fort Hood massacre on Nov. 5.


Mexico has vowed to start its own space program with help from NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez.  The space walker Hernandez, who is the son of Mexican migrants, says he will stay in the American space agency but wants to help Mexico move into the field to diversify its economy.


Money: Mexico's economy was dealt a blow on Nov. 23 when ratings agency Fitch cut the nation’s debt rating from BBB+ to BBB. The agency said recently approved tax increases were not enough to make up for a dive in public accounts, especially with the lower price of oil. The loss in rating will mean higher borrowing costs for the Mexican government and businesses.


However, other indicators showed some positive signs in the economy after a difficult year. Newly released figures indicate that there is rebound from the recession, with the economy growing in the third quarter compared to the second quarter, the first upward trend in a year. The growth was 2.93 percent quarter on quarter, according to figures released on Nov. 21.


Mexican stocks also hit a 17-month high on Nov. 17, boosted by a jump in Grupo Mexico. The Mexican mining conglomerate pushed its fortunes by bidding for bankrupt U.S. copper miner Asarco LLC, an offer that has been favored by a U.S. judge.


Elsewhere: A Mexican mining town has been attracting tourists with a new exhibit in its museum. Zacatecas, in Western Mexico, which was home to some of the richest silver mines in the Spanish empire, has upgraded its Museo Pedro Coronel with works from as far away as Tibet and Africa, alongside Mexican and Spanish pieces.