December 6, 2013
Financial Times, 12/5/2013
Shortly after Nafta came into effect, Mexico suffered the crushing devaluation of the peso – the Tequila crisis – dashing hopes of imminent prosperity. As for democracy, fewer Mexicans today believe it is the best form of government than in 2000. Will the “Mexican moment” of Mr Peña Nieto’s government prove a similar disappointment?
December 6, 2013
Lawmakers in Mexico are considering a major change to their elections. For more than a century, the country has had the ultimate term limits: nobody can be re-elected.
December 4, 2013
The Washington Post, 12/4/2013
Mexico’s Senate has passed the most dramatic political reform attempt in decades that would allow re-election of federal legislators, create new election oversight and make the Attorney General’s office independent from the executive.
The Senate approved the overall reform late Tuesday, but continued to debate certain details early Wednesday. The reform measure still has to be approved by the lower House.
November 25, 2013
The Economist, 11/23/2013
When Enrique Peña Nieto spoke at an Economist conference this month, he was reminded that this newspaper had cautiously endorsed him for president last year as the “least bad” of the candidates. The audience laughed nervously; easy-going in person, the president is rarely exposed to such public leg-pulling. But though his first year in office has had downs, it has had more ups. If he can bring home the raft of reforms that he has launched, he could transform Mexico.
November 21, 2013
The Economist, 11/21/2013
A year ago Enrique Peña Nieto became Mexico’s president, promising a series of reforms aimed at raising the country’s unimpressive economic growth. To overcome a dozen years of legislative gridlock, he struck a “Pact for Mexico” with the opposition. All this sparked enthusiasm in the markets and led to talk of a “Mexican moment”.
In his first year, Mr Peña has done much of what he promised (see article). He has weakened the teachers’ union, which was resisting his education reforms, by arresting its leader on suspicion of embezzlement. He has created an autonomous trustbuster to challenge the dominance of Telmex, controlled by Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, and Televisa, a big television company. A banking reform should make lending easier in a country where credit as a proportion of GDP stands at little over half the Latin American average.
But Mr Peña has had to trim. In particular, he dropped his plan for a thorough overhaul of the tax system. Instead, his finance minister cobbled together, with the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), the leftist opposition, an ill-thought-out ragbag of tax rises that has infuriated the private sector. That matters, since the economy is languishing.
Mr Peña now has a golden opportunity to redeem himself and to revive the private sector’s spirits. The most urgently needed reform is of the energy sector.
November 18, 2013
The Christian Science Monitor, 11/17/2013
Here’s a dollar – if you change your behavior. That’s the revolutionary – and controversial – idea behind conditional cash transfer programs for the poor, which cover 129 million people across 18 Latin American countries, nearly a quarter of the entire region’s population.
The largest such program is Brazil’s Bolsa Família, which gives a small monthly stipend to 13.8 million families. Mothers must receive pre- and postnatal care, and children must receive basic vaccinations and stay in school until age 17. The Ministry of Social Development monitors feedback from doctors and schools, and the stipend is then deposited into the recipient’s bank account (preferably that of a woman).
November 15, 2013
The Globe and Mail, 11/15/2013
Just about everything except the mouths of politicians seems to the paralyzed in the U.S. political system, especially Congress. Getting one big thing done seems next to impossible.
In Canada, the government can get things through the Commons and Senate, courtesy of its majority in both houses. But negotiate with the opposition parties? Are you crazy?
In Mexico, by contrast, something remarkable and controversial is unfolding. In less than a year, President Enrique Pena Nieto and his party are negotiating with both other parties in Congress on an array of reforms that would leave the legislatures of Canada and the United States breathless.
November 14, 2013
Al Jeazeera, 10/14/2013
For the last decade Victoria Alvarez Flores worked 10 hours a day, six days a week, 51 weeks a year at a Mexico City laundromat. Her round-trip commute from a town just outside the city added another four and a half hours to an already long day. The pay was modest, the benefits nonexistent, but at least she had a job. That is, until the owner sold the business. On Oct. 27 the laundromat closed, marking Alvarez’s first day of unemployment. It was her 54th birthday.
Alvarez’s situation is not uncommon. In the past year Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto — along with much of the international media — has emphasized the growth of the Mexican middle class and portrayed the country as an economic success story, an Aztec Tiger. The reality, however, is quite different.
“The Mexican economy is going through a recession right now,” said Gerardo Esquivel, a professor at the Center for Economic Studies at the Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City. “The numbers that have been mentioned in terms of the growth of the middle class have been grossly exaggerated. There is not a clear definition of what middle class is.”
November 13, 2013
Accused a generation ago of engineering the “perfect dictatorship,” Mexico’s ruling party is now close to agreeing on a plan that could weaken the presidency and strengthen Congress in order to win votes for a major energy reform. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and its opposition rivals are shortly expected to unveil the blueprint for a reform aimed at giving Congress greater oversight of government and allowing lawmakers to serve consecutive terms.
Billed as a step forward for democracy, the electoral reform is a bargaining chip for President Enrique Pena Nieto’s most ambitious plan – changing the constitution to allow more private capital into the state-controlled oil industry.
November 1, 2013
The New York Times, 11/1/2013
Mexico’s Congress on Thursday passed a package of measures aimed at bolstering the country’s weak tax revenues, but only after watering down a plan that is expected to have a moderate impact at best.
The bill, which includes higher taxes on the rich as well as levies on junk food and stock market gains, is a central plank of an economic program spanning energy to telecoms that aims to ramp up growth in Latin America’s No. 2 economy.