Headlines from Mexico

July 21, 2014


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1. This weekend, the Senate approved changes to the regulatory framework of the Federal Commission of Electricity (CFE by its acronym in Spanish) and PEMEX as part of the new legislation of the Energy Reform. Among the main changes are the following: it provides technical, operational and managerial autonomy to both companies, thereby reducing the administrative burden to which they were subject. Furthermore, the labor rights of workers are protected and the unions are allowed to remain as key players in the decisions of both companies. Specifically for PEMEX, it facilitates the creation of various subsidiaries to operate a variety of hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation projects; meanwhile, authorizes the CFE to provide private firms access to the national transmission and distribution electric network.

This is the third set of changes approved by the Senate. The fourth and final set of legislative changes are expected to be discussed during this week. The changes are still pending discussion and approval in the lower house of the Mexican Congress.

Read more from Excelsior,Reforma,and La Jornada…

2. The Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS for its acronym in Spanish) and the Institute for Social Security and Services for State Workers (ISSSTE for its acronym in Spanish) are facing budgetary pressures due to large pension obligations. According to the Ministry of Finance, over 50% of their annual expenditure goes directly to pension payments, which could threaten their financial viability in the long term according to experts. Several voices from the academic and private sectors have called to take action to address the problem of the national pension system. Several state and municipal governments are facing similar challenges.

Read more from El Universal…

3. Following a confrontation between residents and police in Puebla, one child died. On July 9th, there was a clash between residents of San Bernardino Chalchihuapan and state police in Atlixco-Puebla highway. Protesters blocked both directions of the road and were asking for the return of the Civil Registry Office to the municipal council.  Members of the state police forced them to leave, which led to a confrontation that resulted in four people arrested, 18 injured policemen and a seriously injured child, who later died at the hospital. Controversy surrounds the case: the boy’s mother accused the state police of hurting her son with a rubber bullet, while the state government blamed the protesters. The Secretary of Public Safety rejected the notion that the state police used rubber bullets in the confrontation. Puebla’s State Government requested the Attorney General’s Office to deal with the matter in order to determine responsibility for injuries to the minor.

Read more from Reforma…


Headlines From Mexico

July 15, 2014


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1. President Enrique Peña Nieto signed into law the secondary legislation to implement the previously passed constitutional reform in telecommunications. Among the important changes of the reform are: 1) elimination of domestic long distance charges, 2) elimination of some charges for cellular telephone users, 3) increased the regulatory powers of  the industries’ regulators with the creation of the Federal Institute of Telecommunications, which may consider a company ‘dominant’ based on the market share that it has in its particular (either broadcasting or telecommunications), 4) creation of two new public TV channels, 5) allow increased foreign investment in broadcasting and telecommunications, and 6) allow the authorities to request private information from telecommunications companies for security purposes.

This reform is not without criticism and debate in the public opinion. Several specialists and legislators from opposing parties have expressed reservations about the potential misuse of private information. Likewise, various voices have expressed that the legal framework does not ensure competition beyond the companies that currently dominate the market. On both of these issues, the courts will likely determine the true extent of the reform.

Read more from El Universal, Aristegui Noticias, Animal Politico, and The Economist

2. Pope Francis called on the governments of Mexico, the U.S., and Central America to protect the immigrant children who are fleeing from violence in their homelands. The Pope’s words were relayed by envoy Christopher Pierre, who stated that “such a humanitarian emergency requires, as a first measure of urgency, the protection and appropriate housing of these minors. However, these measures will not be enough if they are not accompanied by political information about the dangers of the trip, and above all, the promotion of development in their countries of origin.” He called for a change from an outlook of defensiveness, fear, and marginalization to a culture of welcome.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, also made a statement. He indicated that a big error of modern societies is that they do not recognize the great contributions that immigrants give to society and the economy. Parolin stated that in order to resolve the immigration crisis it is not enough to use security forces and legislative measures. The solution comes from a cultural and social transformation from a culture of obstinacy to one of openness and reception.

Read more from Excelsior, Univision, Reforma, El Financiero

3. Mexico’s Senate will vote today on four components of the secondary (implementing) legislation of the energy reform, according to Senator David Penchyna, Chairman of the Energy Committee. Read more from Reforma

Headlines from Mexico

July 9, 2014


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  1. Mexico’s lower house of Congress on Wednesday gave the final approval to the secondary laws of the telecoms reform.The bill has been sent to President Enrique Peña Nieto for publication. The secondary legislation on telecommunications reform was passed with 318 votes in favor and 107 abstentions. Read more from Milenio…
  2. In a surprise decision, América Móvil (AMX) – a company headed by Carlos Slim –  decided to sell part of Telcel and Telmex to reduce its national share below 50 percent. This cut means that the company will sell almost a 30% share, valued at US$20,000 million (1.3% of Mexico’s GDP). The company’s goal is to stop being “dominant operator” in terms of the Constitution and its secondary legislation, and again be able to operate freely in Mexico. The firm has presence in 26 countries and 292 million mobile customers, but in Mexico it has 35% of its sales. Read more from El País…
  3. In an interview with El Universal, Secretary of Foreign Affairs José Antonio Meade announced that the governments of Mexico and the Central American countries will form a joint response to confront the criminal groups that traffic human beings. He indicated that this anti-trafficking response will be one of the key strategies to deal with the humanitarian migrant crisis, especially in relation to unaccompanied minors. Read more from El Universal…
  4. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto launched the Frontera Sur (South Border) program to protect migrants who enter Mexico primarily from Central America. The program will have five key components: 1) creation of temporary work permits for Guatemalan and Belizean migrants, 2) improvement of the twelve border crossings and establishment of five migrants care centers, 3) improvement of the shelters and detention centers for migrants mainly to give health services, 4) increase coordination mechanisms among the countries in the region mainly in security issues, and 5) increase interagency coordination in Mexico, work that will be led by the Secretaría de Gobernación (Ministry of the Interior). Read more from Excelsior…
  5. On Tuesday, the Mexican Senate resumed the discussion on secondary energy reform legislation that was interrupted in mid-June, because both parties (PRD and PAN) left the debate.The energy reform approved in 2013 consists of 21 laws, of which fourteen will be discussed in the Senate, while the lower house of Congress will discuss the remaining seven that comprise fiscal issues. Read more from Milenio…

Michoacán’s Self Defense Group, Edgar Tamayo’s Execution, and Davos – Weekly News Summary: January 24

January 24, 2014

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The 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…

This week’s news centered on the vigilante groups present in the Mexican state of Michoacán. The Economist stated that an uneasy peace has settled on Apatzingán, a 99,000-strong city in western Mexico. The federal government this week sent in troops to disarm “self-defence” groups operating in Michoacán, Mexico’s most troubled state. The deployment came as these groups advanced on Apatzingán, the stronghold of a vicious gang called the Knights Templar, which controls drugs, extortion and other crime rackets. Michoacán represents the biggest challenge to President Enrique Peña Nieto’s claim that violent crime has waned since he took office late in 2012. In a speech on January 13th Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, the interior minister, described the state’s recent bloodshed as “unparalleled and unprecedented” and ordered forces to intervene. The self-defence groups say they are filling a void in law enforcement; Mr Osorio retorted that, if they wanted to protect their communities, they should join the local police instead. The Los Angeles Times

The New York Times featured a piece on Edgar Tamayo’s’ execution. The newspaper wrote that Despite opposition from the State Department, Mexican officials and Latino advocates, Texas executed Edgar Arias Tamayo on Wednesday night, putting to death a Mexican citizen whose case raised questions about the state’s duty to abide by international law.

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Energy Reform Approved, Border Infrastructure Spending, and Biden “Guarantees” Immigration Reform – Weekly News Summary: December 13

December 13, 2013

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The 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…

This week’s news outlets centered in the Energy Reform approved by both the Mexican Senate and Chamber of Deputies. As expected, the law includes measures to open the oil and gas industry to private and foreign investment, through cash, profit-sharing and production contracts. What is new however, as a Forbes article explains, is the legal entity of the “license”. Although the legislation still explicitly prohibits the use of concessions in the hydrocarbons sector, the license will act in a very similar way, with the idea that it will be applied to unconventional projects like shale. The Economist noted that, as a consequence of the Reform, financial markets reacted with a burst of enthusiasm absent for most of the year, although it also claimed that the potential benefit from the reform will depend on the strength of secondary legislation that will specify what contracts will be offered for which type of oil or gas field, and what royalties and taxes the government will take. Finally, The Global Post noted that there were still political hurdles to overcome and that it will take a while before Mexico finally sees the investments and technology it needs to improve capacity and modernize Pemex.

On another topic, several news outlets highlighted stories concerning border issues. KPBS noted that U.S. and Mexico officials joined together on Tuesday in San Diego to signal construction crews to begin work on a $700 million border infrastructure project. The goal of the new freeway, and eventually a new port of entry, is to increase the $54 billion worth of goods that move across the Tijuana – San Diego Region by cutting border wait times that exceed two hours. The New York Times published a story describing how, even when agents do their jobs professionally and well, current immigration policy fosters insanity and menace in the Southern Border. It argues that when migrants have no hope of visas, the Border Patrol’s job is made harder while the drug lords get richer. On another note,  the San Diego Union Tribune published a piece stating that the unprecedented spending of the U.S. government on border security has led to a nearly nonstop stream of reports, audits and studies criticizing how some of that money has been spent. Customs and Border Protection has acknowledged errors but also insists the unprecedented boost in spending has made the border far more secure.

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Senate Passes Political Reform – Energy Reform Next, Stolen Radioactive Material, and Mexico´s Competitiveness vis-à-vis China – Weekly News Summary: December 6

December 6, 2013

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The 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…

This week the Washington Post noted that Mexico’s Senate passed the most dramatic political reform attempt in decades which would allow re-election of federal legislators, create new election oversight and make the Attorney General’s office independent from the executive. It also highlighted that the Senate is moving on to energy reform, which is considered the most critical part of the reform package that President Enrique Peña Nieto is pushing to have passed before the end of this year. The Economist noted that it will be difficult for Mexico´s left to stop the Energy Reform after Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador suffered a heart attack on December 3rd. His absence weakened a blockade of the Senate that he had promised. Meanwhile, the Financial Post was not enthusiastic over the Energy Reform. In an article published this week, it argued that that even if the proposed reform is passed within a year, it could take up to 10 years for production to begin in the deep-sea reserves. Additionally, the profit-sharing contracts may not be as profitable as anticipated, as the terms under the proposal stipulate that foreign companies would receive a share of the revenues from the fields, rather than the oil and gas to sell themselves.

In another note, the BBC reported on Wednesday that a truck carrying medical radioactive material had been stolen near Mexico City. Mexico’s Nuclear Security Commission said that at the time of the theft, the cobalt-60 teletherapy source was “properly shielded”. Nonetheless, the Washington Post noted on Thursday, that the theft of the material sparked international concern over the possibility that the cobalt-60 could be used in a “dirty bomb.” By Wednesday afternoon, the same news outlet reported that authorities had found the stolen the radioactive material. The National Journal claimed that after the theft, a group of critics questioned if the International Atomic Energy Agency’s radiological security rules were enough for securing radioactive materials.

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Energy Reform Necessary to Maintain Mexico’s Moment, Michoacan’s Vigilante Groups and Mark Zuckerberg “Hacks” for Immigration Reform – Weekly News Summary: November 22

November 22, 2013

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The 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…

This week’s press had interesting reports on the Mexican economy. The New York Times published an article describing how dozens of foreign companies are investing and filling in new industrial parks along central Mexico. As a result, middle-class housing is popping up and new universities are waving in classes of students eager to study engineering, aeronautics and biotechnology, signaling a growing confidence in Mexico’s economic future and what many see as the imported meritocracy of international business. On a similar note, the Wall Street Journal noted that even though Latin America has been a laggard among developing markets this year, some advisers are convinced the resource-rich region is poised for a turnaround. But instead of investing once again in Brazil, portfolio managers are finding smaller markets in Mexico and Chile as better bets to tap into Latin America’s long-term growth. Finally, the Economist claimed that to implement and to boost sustaining growth, a bold energy reform is needed. Without it, Mexico’s moment may prove to become fleeting one.

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John Boehner must act on immigration now – Op Ed

November 20, 2013

MEXICO CONGRESSThe Washington Post,  11/19/2013

Poor John Boehner. The beleaguered House speaker can’t even eat breakfast in peace. The other day, a pair of teenage girls, activists for immigration reform, accosted him at Pete’s Diner, his early-morning hangout, to ask how he’d like to be deported.

“How would you feel if you had to tell your kids at the age of 10 that you were never coming home?” 13-year-old Carmen Lima, of California, asked Mr. Boehner. “That wouldn’t be good,” allowed the speaker.

The House speaker wants to tackle immigration reform — just not the main part. He got that right. The rest of his remarks on immigration that day, not so much. Mr. Boehner, who pledged to press ahead with immigration reform a year ago following Mitt Romney’s dismal performance with Latino voters, now says the House will not negotiate with Democrats on the basis of the sweeping reform bill passed by the Senate in June with bipartisan support. Translation: Don’t hold your breath for immigration reform this year, and don’t get your hopes high for next year, either.

Read more…

Mexico is the New Export Hub for Nissan in the Americas, John Boehner and Immigration, and Why Security Costs are 15% of Mexico’s GDP– Weekly News Summary: November 15

November 15, 2013

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The 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…

There were several news articles focusing on the Mexican economy this week. Reuters highlighted that Nissan Motor LTD is projecting to build 1 million cars in Mexico by 2016, which will help the Country position itself as the export hub in the Americas. The Chicago Tribune noted that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel took his first international trip to Mexico City to sign an agreement that commits the two cities to work together to build up exports, foreign investment, a skilled workforce and research endeavors. According to the article, Mexico City is the Chicago metro area’s second largest North American trade partner, after Toronto. The Wall Street Journal noted that the Mexican Congress has approved a fiscal deficit for next year equivalent to 3.5% of gross domestic product. With the additional spending, the government is trying to jump-start the economy and avoid another year of very low growth. Finally, Al Jazeera America published a piece stating that, despite claims of a growing middle class and increased jobs, poverty in Mexico is rising and the poor “don’t see any difference”.

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Latinos’ Role in Local Elections, Wave of Success for Mexican Filmmakers, and President Peña Nieto takes Boldest Security Step Yet– Weekly News Summary: November 8

November 8, 2013

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The 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…

One of the main topics for this week’s news outlets was on the role Hispanics are playing in local elections. According to the New York Times, Republicans in Congress have seen two test cases for how the party should move on immigration. Exit polls showed that Gov. Chris Christie boosted to a blowout victory because he improved his standing among Latinos by 19 percentage points over his first run. In Virginia, it is estimated that Latinos accounted for 35,000 out of about 55,000 votes in Mr. McAuliffe’s slim margin victory. According to the Newspaper, House Republicans are becoming aware of the strategic importance of Latinos.

In a similar topic, Politico reported that the AFL-CIO is poised to launch a seven-figure television campaign assailing House Republicans for their inaction on immigration reform. These new commercials are aimed at raising the stakes for the whole Republican Party in the debate over immigration, said AFL-CIO strategist Tom Snyder.

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