Country of the Year? Try Mexico

December 16, 2013

Christian Science Monitor, 12/15/2013

Mexican Flag XXLLast week’s approval of reforms for the pivotal oil company Pemex caps a year of major reforms that could transform Mexico – and perhaps change the immigration debate in the US.

If an award could be given in 2013 for Country of the Year, Mexico might deserve it. No other country has done more this past year to put reforms in place to transform a nation – and with startling democratic consensus. The latest reform, approved Thursday by elected lawmakers, will allow foreign and private investment in the oil sector for the first time in more than 70 years. The move upends a notion of Mexican patriotism that stated the national identity rests on government monopoly of the petroleum industry.

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A Rustic Paradise, Open for Development

December 2, 2013

The New York Times, 11/30/2013

wineLawmakers  voted to permit urban and suburban development in the agricultural heart of northwestern Mexico, the Guadalupe Valley, despite angry opposition from those who have spent decades making it an international destination for wine, food and quiet.

Municipal council members argue that the new zoning regulations will preserve the valley and increase property values, spreading out the benefits of a boom. But the new rules subvert the state-approved regional plan they were supposed to clarify by allowing up to 10 times as much housing density while significantly weakening public oversight. Independent scientists say the arid valley simply cannot sustain the intensified development, creating what many here see as a threat to a national treasure and a vital test of Mexico’s young democracy.

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Op Ed: To fix Washington, Look to Mexico

October 18, 2013

Christian Science Monitor, 10/17/2013

By Carlos Heredia

President Obama visits Mexico President Enrique Pena NietoMexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto’s political grand bargain among rival parties has helped usher in long-needed reforms. The US has something to learn from Mexico’s willingness to put country ahead of party.

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Paper: The 2012 Presidential Election and What It Reveals about Mexican Voters

August 22, 2013

voting - ballot box 2by RODERIC AI CAMP

Journal of Latin American Studies / Volume 45 / Issue 03 / August 2013, pp 451 481.

The 2012 presidential election in Mexico is significant for many reasons, not least of which is that it returned the Partido Revolucionario Institucional to power after two Partido Acción Nacional administrations. This essay reviews more than surveys taken before and during the election to determine significant patterns among Mexican voters, comparing the most influential traditional and non-traditional demographic variables, as well as other variables such as partisanship and policy issues in this election, with those of the two previous presidential races.

It also analyses other influential variables in the 2012 presidential race, including social media and the application of new electoral legislation. It identifies significant differences and similarities among voters today in contrast to the two prior elections, and suggests long term patterns among Mexican voters which are likely to influence voting behaviour in future elections, ranging from regionalism and gender to partisanship and social media.

Read the full paper here…


Op-ed: Mexico: More Than Borders and Beaches

August 15, 2013

shutterstock_102739391By Mark R. Kennedy, The Huffington Post, 8/14/2013

The biggest surprise from my recent visit to Mexico was how wide the gap is between how most Americans perceive our neighbor to the south and the reality of what it is today.

The view of Mexico from the United States seems to either fixate on the struggles we have along the border or the attractiveness of their seemingly endless number of magnificent beaches. The truth is that in between that challenging border and inviting beaches lies a country of 116 million enterprising people on the move. The United States ignores that reality to its detriment.

Five experiences from my trip highlight aspects of Mexico that most Americans ignore.

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New Document : La segunda transición democrática de México: Esfuerzos, tropiezos y desafíos de México en busca de un sistema completo, articulado y coherente de rendición de cuentas (in Spanish)

July 30, 2013

ZocaloBy Mauricio Merino Huerta**

During the last decade, Mexico has implemented a comprehensive set of institutional reforms to combat discretion, inefficiency and corruption. After the successful efforts beginning in the last decades to build a new electoral system that allowed a peaceful transition from a single party regime to a pluralist democracy, the public agenda began focusing on challenging the traditional way to exercise authority gained in the polls. This text is a brief summary of the set of changes and challenges Mexico has faced during this period as well as of the vigorous debate on how to build complete, articulate, and coherent accountability in the country.

** Mexico Institute’s Public Policy Scholar Mauricio Merino Huerta received his Ph.D. in Political Science and Sociology from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain and a Specialization in Constitutional Law and Political Science from Centro de Estudios Constitucionales de España. He is currently Professor/Researcher at Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) since November 2003. He has given courses and conferences at 30 universities in México, Argentina, Colombia, Perú, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Get the document here…


In Mexico, fears for democracy as threatened journalists curtail coverage

May 17, 2013

newspapers bwMcClatchy,  5/16/2013

Mexico is easily the most dangerous place in the Western Hemisphere for reporters to ply their trade. Dozens of journalists have been killed or disappeared. Nearly every month, a newspaper or a radio or TV station is firebombed, attacked with explosives or raked with gunfire, targeted by the country’s rising criminal gangs who use violence to discourage reporting the gangsters don’t like. And the violence has worked. In much of Mexico, local news outlets no longer report on organized crime or corruption. Analysts call these areas “zones of silence,” where the lights have gone out on the dark activities within.

The success of the intimidation alarms advocates of both free speech and democracy. With no news reports on Mexico’s drug and crime problems, citizens find it difficult to stay informed about what could be life-threatening situations developing nearby. They also cannot effectively participate in the normal give and take of public discussion that fuels a democracy. The muffling has been so effective that many Mexicans don’t even realize that a near blackout of news on crime exists in swaths of the country. “If journalists don’t act as a viewfinder to say who is winning the contracts, who will become police chief, if there’s no accountability, they can do whatever they want,” said Andres Solis Alvarez, a former crime reporter and author of a self-protection manual for Mexican journalists.

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To read the Mexico Institute’s newest publication on violence against journalists, click here.

US President Obama returns to Latin America

May 2, 2013

shutterstock_91867121Aljazeera, 5/2/2013

United States President Barack Obama travels to Latin America today for a three-day visit with stops in Mexico where he will meet with the newly-inaugurated President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and in San Jose, Costa Rica, where he will meet with the presidents of Central America and the Dominican Republic. While Mexican, Central American and US leaders look to broaden the discussion points beyond a narrow focus on security, noticeably absent in their public pronouncements have been questions about democracy and human rights.

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Social media users step in to fill news void – #MexFacts

April 23, 2013

MexFact - Social Media Journalists v4

Click here to learn more…


Mexico Becomes a Stable, Politically Diverse Neighbor

April 8, 2013

Mexico BricksReal Clear Politics, 4/8/13

We Americans are lucky, though we seldom reflect on it, that we have good neighbors. In East Asia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines face challenges from China over islands they have long claimed in the East China Sea. In Europe, Germany and other prosperous nations face demands for subsidies from debt-ridden nations to avoid the collapse of the Euro. When Southern Europeans look across the Mediterranean, they see Muslim nations facing post-Arab spring upheaval and disorder.

The United States has land borders with just two nations, Canada (on which more on another day) and Mexico, where Barack Obama is headed next month. They’re both good neighbors. I realize that most of the recent news on Mexico has been about violent drug wars. You get 500,000 hits when you Google Mexico “failed state.” But that’s a misleading picture. The war on drug lords waged by President Felipe Calderon from 2006 to 2012 has had considerable success and has been de-emphasized by his successor Enrique Pena Nieto. The focus on the drug war ignores Mexico’s progress over the last 25 years as an electoral democracy. For 71 years, it had one-party rule of the PRI (Party of the Institutional Revolution). Under PRI rule, a president selected by his predecessor selected his successor.

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