Context Interview on Citizen Security: Is the Peña Nieto Administration Succeeding?

February 12, 2014

wwclogo.MexicoMexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto made several bold promises while on the campaign trail in 2012 on how he would improve citizen security, including the unofficial claim that his administration would cut violence by 50% during his first year in office. With the administration’s first year complete, we asked two expert observers to provide analysis and context on what has transpired and to provide insight on the outlook moving forward.

To learn more,  watch Mexico Institute’s interview with Alejandro Hope, Director of Security Policy for the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO), and John Bailey,  Professor with the Department of Government and School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University here.

If you missed our event “The State of Citizen Security in Mexico: The Peña Nieto Administration’s First Year in Review” you can watch the webcast here.

Mexico in 2014: Can Peña Nieto Consolidate Reform?

January 3, 2014

Enrique Pena NietoBy Duncan Wood

CNN, 1/3/2014

Last year will go down as an extraordinary, historic year in Mexico. A number of structural and political reforms that had been pending for 15 years were approved by the country’s Congress addressing education, labor markets, telecoms competition, financial regulation, fiscal affairs, elections rules and energy. The government of Enrique Peña Nieto remained the darling of international investors throughout the year, and received record levels of foreign direct investment in the first year of its mandate, by following through on his promised reform agenda and delivering the legislation needed to prepare Mexico for a more competitive global economic environment. His ruling PRI (Revolutionary Institutional Party) showed coherence and unity throughout the year, and the other major parties agreed to work closely with the PRI to secure legislative progress.

Read more…


Op-Ed: Hello 2014: For Mexico, the hard work starts now

January 3, 2014

Mexican Flag XXLBy Duncan Wood and Christopher Wilson

FT Beyondbrics, 1/3/2014

We will look back on 2013 as a truly historic year for Mexico. The scale of the reform process that was undertaken and largely achieved by President Enrique Peña Nieto is astonishing by comparison not only with other countries around the world today, but also in the context of recent Mexican history. For 15 years Mexico had seemed condemned to endure one of the less palatable elements of democratic systems, legislative gridlock. However President Peña Nieto, through a combination of determination, hard bargaining and political skill, has managed to work with the congress to pass a series of major reforms that do much to put Mexico on the road to modernity and competitiveness.

Read more…

Interview: “The Economy is Growing due to NAFTA”

January 2, 2014

NAFTAInterview with Luis de la Calle, a Mexico Institute Advisory Board Member

Reforma, 1/2/2014

With the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Mexico is better today than it was 20 years ago, Luis de la Calle asserts.

A key actor in the agreement’s negotiations when he served as Minister of Trade Issues for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, DC, he observes that the next step is for the country to convert into a North American export platform.

Read more…

Op-Ed: NAFTA and Open Regionalism

January 2, 2014

120px-North_America_(orthographic_projection).svgBy Christopher Wilson and Duncan Wood

Excelsior, 1/2/2014

With the North American Free Trade Agreement completing 20 years, it is a good moment to reflect and look toward the region’s future and its place in the world economy.

It is important to recognize that NAFTA was a first-generation free trade agreement, originally conceived in the 1980s, and for that reason it was very limited.

Read more…

Mexico Institute Welcomes Global Fellow David A. Shirk

October 8, 2013

Mexico Institute Logo10/08/2013

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is pleased to announce David A. Shirk as the first Mexico Institute Wilson Center Global Fellow, a newly created non-residential scholars program. The Global Fellows program seeks to strengthen the Wilson Center’s global network of thought-leaders who can produce research, timely analysis, and new ideas to amplify the mission and goals of the Center. These non-residential fellows will contribute to the ongoing work of the Center’s programs and serve as an integral part of the overall intellectual community of the Wilson Center.

Dr. Shirk is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Principal Investigator for the Justice in Mexico Project at the University of San Diego. Dr. Shirk’s work has focused on promoting security and judicial reform, and the rule of law in Mexico. Through this leadership the Justice in Mexico project has developed a unique series of reports that track drug violence in Mexico at the national, state and local level. Dr. Shirk’s previous work with the Institute culminated in two edited volumes, produced in conjunction with Mexico Institute staff: Police and Public Security in Mexico and Shared Responsibility: U.S.-Mexico Policy Options for Confronting Organized Crime.

Duncan Wood, Director of the Mexico Institute said “We are thrilled to have David join our team as a Global Fellow. He is a leading voice on Mexico and multiple aspects of the bilateral relationship and his research and expertise have proved pivotal in shaping the policy debate on U.S.-Mexico security cooperation. There is no one better equipped to head up our work on security and justice in Mexico.”

David Shirk will be collaborating with Mexico Institute staff on an ongoing project examining civil society responses to organized crime and violence in Mexico, and will be coordinating important new research and publications on Mexican security and justice in 2014.

For a link to this story on the Mexico Institute webpage, click here.

Peña Nieto’s fiscal reform and the consolidation of the Grand Bargain-The Expert Take

September 9, 2013

Expert TakeBy Duncan Wood

On the evening of Sunday September8th, President Enrique Peña Nieto announced his government’s much awaited fiscal reform package, which he had sent to the nation’s congress earlier that day. To the surprise of many, the proposal was ambitious, far-reaching and opted not to apply the national sales tax (IVA) to food and medicine, which had been seen by many as the only viable option available for raising tax revenue for the government. Mexico suffers from one of the lowest tax takes of all the OECD countries, with non-oil tax revenue reaching only 12-13% of GDP. Even when combined with substantial monies collected from the national oil company, Pemex, government revenue in Mexico has only been able to reach a paltry 19% of GDP.

The fiscal reform package laid out by the government is focused on increasing revenue, increasing government spending on social programs, and on forcing the wealthier elements of Mexican society to pay more taxes. The government has promised to provide universal social security and pension coverage, unemployment insurance, universal health care and increased spending on education. Each of these will be embodied in a constitutional reform. Pemex will also see a reduced tax rate, falling from 70% to 60%.

Read the rest of this entry »

CONTEXT Video: Energy Reform in Mexico

September 6, 2013

photo2The Economist compared Mexico’s attitude toward state ownership of oil to America’s tradition of gun ownership concluding that both are, “steeped in history.” In such cases, change is never easy. But the country’s oil reserves in the easy-to-access shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico are running low. The state-run gas and oil giant, Pemex, hasn’t been able to muster the expertise or funding to address the problem.

So President Enrique Peña Nieto has proposed changing the constitution to allow private investment in Mexico’s oil industry. Is Mexico ready for such an historic move and what might the proposed reforms accomplish? To gain perspective on these and other questions, we spoke with Mexico Institute Director, Duncan Wood.

To view the video click here.

Youth Gang Prevention in Mexico

August 28, 2013

handcuffsBy Nathan Jones, 8/28/2013

Read Nathan Jones most recent paper “Understanding and Addressing Youth in “Gangs” in Mexico” published by the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute  

Mexico’s struggle with organized crime has consumed much of the policy agenda in the administrations of Felipe Calderón and now, Enrique Peña Nieto.  Academics and policy analysts looking beyond the battles with high-level organized crime groups have identified street gangs in Mexico as a potential looming security threat.

After conducting interviews with gang experts in Mexico, I discovered that security- centric responses often exacerbate the problem.  Mexico would be better served by a long-term development and human rights oriented strategy to address the problem of youths in gangs.  Indeed, at least rhetorically, the new Peña Nieto administration recognizes this and has discussed plans to apply this strategy more broadly.  Whether rhetoric will become reality will depend upon the administration’s commitment to these long-term policies.

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President Obama’s Upcoming Visit to Mexico: Related Resources

April 30, 2013

CoverPhotoWe are pleased to share with you the following resources and analysis in advance of President Obama’s trip to Mexico.

Media Briefing
On Friday, April 26th experts from the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute and Latin American Program participated in a media briefing on Obama’s trip to Mexico and Costa Rica.

  • Audio and a transcript from the briefing are available here

Opinion Survey
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, in conjunction with the Woodrow Wilson Center, released a public opinion survey brief on Americans’ views toward Mexico. The survey results suggest that increased public awareness of bilateral endeavors could boost support for increased economic and energy integration in the future.

  • A PDF of the survey is available here.

Read the rest of this entry »


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