December 2, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 12/1/2013
To President Enrique Peña Nieto’s supporters, his first year in office has been a time of bold promises kept as he pursues an ambitious agenda of reforms designed, in the long term, to bring peace and economic growth to Mexico.
But in the short term, by many measures, his country remains a mess. Though he promised to focus on Mexico’s economic potential, Peña Nieto has presided over an economy that has hardly grown at all. Though he vowed to reduce the kind of violence that affects innocent citizens, his record has been mixed, with kidnappings and extortion rising nationwide even as the number of homicides drops.
October 21, 2013
José Urbina López Primary School sits next to a dump just across the US border in Mexico. The school serves residents of Matamoros, a dusty, sunbaked city of 489,000 that is a flash point in the war on drugs. There are regular shoot-outs, and it’s not uncommon for locals to find bodies scattered in the street in the morning. To get to the school, students walk along a white dirt road that parallels a fetid canal. On a recent morning there was a 1940s-era tractor, a decaying boat in a ditch, and a herd of goats nibbling gray strands of grass. A cinder-block barrier separates the school from a wasteland—the far end of which is a mound of trash that grew so big, it was finally closed down. On most days, a rotten smell drifts through the cement-walled classrooms. Some people here call the school un lugar de castigo—“a place of punishment.”
October 8, 2013
The Christian Science Monitor, 10/08/2013
By Christian Bracho
In the Netflix series “House of Cards,” Washington’s politicians scramble to deal with a chaotic national teachers strike that threatens the new president’s agenda, leaves children with nowhere to go, and pits citizens against each other. It’s hard to imagine a strike of that magnitude actually happening in the United States.
But in Mexico, this fictional narrative is not just a reality. It is a tradition. The only way to end this disruptive practice is for the national government and the union to stop pointing fingers, and for each side to make concessions.
October 1, 2013
From our colleagues at the Canadian International Council, Jennifer Jeffs explains the importance of the developing education agenda between the US and Mexico and the potential for including Canada.
Canadian International Council, 9/30/2013
In recent weeks, Mexico City has been repeatedly under siege by teachers protesting against the government’s education reform program, part of a package of reforms that the Pena Nieto administration is determined will help fulfill the potential of Mexico, a country whose emerging middle-class now exceeds 40 million people. The current protests are against reforms that would professionalize the Mexican teaching profession, instituting teacher evaluations and ending the inheritance and sale of teaching positions.
Reform is essential. Mexico’s public education system comes last in OECD rankings in terms of results relative to cost. For a comparatively recent newcomer to the OECD club, this is not a surprising ranking, and a benefit of OECD membership is attention to members’ economic performance factors. Mexico’s poor score here has prompted the Pena Nieto government to act on education reform, a tough political battle, but an important one for Mexico, and for Canada.
September 30, 2013
The Washington Post, 9/28/2013
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is entering a critical stage of his term, analysts say, as his administration faces growing resistance to its wide-ranging, fast-track push to remake the country’s institutions.
Peña Nieto is under fire from Mexico’s left for taking on powerful teachers unions and for a proposal to open the state oil monopoly to private investment. On the right, opposition is building to his plan for tax hikes on the wealthy, corporations and a broad share of the middle class.
September 25, 2013
Smart Planet, 9/25/2013
Investors worldwide saw in Mexico a new global economic darling when the reform-minded administration of Enrique Pena Nieto returned the country’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, to power on December 1. Optimism over structural reforms including education, telecommunications and energy, and taxation underpinned the widespread predictions that Mexico was the new Brazil. Such lofty expectations have been scrapped, at least for this year, as external and internal factors have held Mexico back.
September 16, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 9/13/2013
Manuel Mondragon, the head of Mexico’s federal police, said before the crackdown that the teachers had been given a 4 p.m. deadline to leave. “They have hurt Mexico and many other cities,” he said. “I think this is reaching its limit and we will act. This is not a game. We will do our job.”
In exchange for leaving the Zócalo, the government agreed to provide extra funds to pay for teacher training and for building and repairing schools in poor southern states such as Oaxaca, Michoacan, Guerrero and Chiapas, which are a stronghold for the radical teachers, said a former government official who took part in the negotiations with the teachers.
September 10, 2013
AULA Blog, Center for Latin American and Latino Studies, American University, 9/10/2013
President Peña Nieto’s reformist agenda wins kudos from the business and financial class, but both a recalcitrant leftist opposition and mass organizations previously aligned with his party are taking to the streets in protest – raising serious doubts about its prospects.
Some Mexican commentators say Peña Nieto’s leadership is already losing its shine and that his Pacto por México, the loose coalition he engineered in Congress, is at risk of falling apart.
September 5, 2013
The New York Times, 9/5/2013
took a major step this week toward instituting evaluations of public schoolteachers and ending their practice of buying and inheriting their posts, but analysts said violent protests by teachers had led Congress to include provisions in the new legislation that might undermine the overhaul.
Shoring up the flagging education system has been a pillar of President
’s efforts to advance the country economically and move more people into the middle class. Analysts had closely watched the progress of the legislation as a sign of his ability to move forward on revamping the telecommunications and energy industries.
September 4, 2013
Associated Press via The Washington Post, 9/4/2013
Mexico’s Senate overwhelmingly passed a sweeping reform of the notoriously dysfunctional public school system early Wednesday, handing President Enrique Pena Nieto an important victory in his push to remake some of his country’s worst-run institutions.
The Senate voted 102-22 in favor of a standardized system of test-based hiring and promotion that would give the government the tools to break teachers’ unions’ near-total control of school staffing. That control includes the corrupt sale and inheritance of teaching jobs and it has been widely blamed for much of the poor performance of Mexican schools, which have higher relative costs and worse results than any other in the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.