Weekly News Summary: March 8th

Coffee by Flikr user samrevelThe Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English-language press had to say…

At its national assembly last Saturday, PRI members voted to end the party’s opposition to constitutional changes that would allow increased private participation in the oil sector, and reversed their previous position on the application of value added tax (IVA) to food and medicine. Leaders of the three main political parties continued to work on a “game-changing” telecommunications reform that is expected to shake up a highly monopolized sector of the Mexican economy. The Miami Herald’s Andres Oppenheimer addressed the recent optimism surrounding the Mexican economy, pointing out that many Mexicans remain skeptical. TIME’s Tim Padgett echoed the sentiment, drawing a parallel between current headlines labeling Mexico “the New China” or “the Aztec Tiger” and similar hype preceding Mexico’s 1994 peso crisis.

Following the excitement of last week’s arrest of Elba Esther Gordillo, journalists began focusing more closely on Peña Nieto’s education reform and the much-needed changes to the country’s lagging public education system. Carlos Slim topped the Forbes billionaire rankings for a fourth consecutive year, while drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was left out. The Christian Science Monitor reported Slim’s large share over the telecommunications sector has kept broadband connection costs high, and internet connectivity rates low, compared to the rest of Latin America. Also this week, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled two common anti-gay words constitute hate speech and are not protected under freedom of expression.

What Mexican columnists had to say…

A prominent political figure in this week’s news headlines was President Enrique Peña Nieto, who will soon celebrate his first 100 days in office.  Unlike former president Ernesto Zedillo, who tried to distance himself from the PRI, Enrique Peña Nieto is the leader the PRI yearned for in the past 12 years. As the party’s new Jefe, EPN has demonstrated an active role in the energy and tax reforms discussed in the 21st National PRI Assembly. The president also expressed his condolences at Chavez’s funeral in Caracas and plans to foment Mexico’s active role in foreign policy. The leader also claimed that his administration will not tolerate “Intocables” (or Untouchables). Perhaps this is the reason why influential PRI figures Andres Granier, Humberto Moreira, and Carlos Romero Deschamps did not attend the XXI National PRI Assembly because, like Elba Esther Gordillo, they may soon face investigations for alleged acts of corruption. The question is, will Peña Nieto keep up the good work after making a great first impression, or are his politics and social programs part of a PRI clientelist strategy?

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