There are those would say that present-day Mexico is an example of the famous phrase of Giuseppe di Lampedusa (about Sicily of the Risorgimento) that everything has changed so that everything may go on just as it was. And others say that Mexico has not changed at all. I disagree with both views. I have been a witness — from various perspectives — to my country’s political life for almost fifty years and I am quite sure of one thing: Mexico has really changed.
It’s become known as the Peña Nieto model of political ascent, after the current Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto: Drape a comely television star on the arm of a telegenic governor. Get attention from a major television network. Then turn on a spigot of cash for publicity.
Many say the tactic helped President Peña Nieto, who is married to a former television actress, triumph in 2012. Now, other governors are trying to do the same – with mixed results.
Gov. Manuel Velasco Coello of Chiapas state is one of them. Like Peña Nieto, his smile lights up his surroundings.
For the past year, Mr. Velasco, Mexico’s youngest governor at 33, has been a staple in society magazines, partly because of his romance with Anahi Giovanna Puente Portilla, a soap opera star and singer who is universally known by just one name: Anahi (pronounced ah-nah-EE). Her tweets from her @anahi account constantly proclaim her love for the governor.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said Wednesday that the vigilante “self-defense” groups of Michoacan had “in no way” been allowed to expand on his watch, even though the groups began to emerge three months after his inauguration and have indeed grown in scope and power since.
Michoacan’s armed vigilantes went on the offensive this month, seizing control of a number of towns and communities and declaring their intention to directly confront their enemy, the Knights Templar drug cartel, given the government’s inability to root it out of the southwestern state. Peña Nieto’s government was forced to send in a surge of troops and federal police last week to avert a bloodbath.
Peña Nieto’s comments came during a layover in Gander, Canada, as he was making his way to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, an event, he said, that would be a “great opportunity to promote Mexico.”
Mexico begins the new year bathed in predictions that its “moment” has finally arrived thanks, primarily, to a frenzy of reforms since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in December 2012.
But beneath the glow, question marks hang over the country because of its longstanding security crisis, rampant poverty, inequality – and even the reforms themselves.
“If things go well, Peña Nieto could go down in history as one of the great reformers of the past 100 years,” says political analyst Raymundo Riva Palacio. “If it does not, the failure will be monumental.”
The New York Times, 12/12/2013
Every gas station in Mexico is stamped with the green-and-white logo of the state-owned oil monopoly, the economic lifeblood of the government. Oil Expropriation Day, commemorating the day Mexico seized control of the industry from multinationals in 1938, is celebrated with speeches and even parades in some towns. An old song, “The Oil Worker Hymn,” credits oil with “saving our fatherland.”
But now, President Enrique Peña Nieto, in what could be the biggest economic change in two decades, is on the verge of rewriting the constitution to open Mexico’s oil, gas and electricity industry to private investment — a provocative move that could shake up the North American energy industry and test the storied grip Mexico’s oil has had on its soul.
Mexico’s lower house passed an energy bill that ends Petroleos Mexicanos’s 75-year oil monopoly in a bid to attract foreign investment and boost growth.
Lawmakers approved the bill in general terms in a 354-134 vote late yesterday and continue to discuss minority-party challenges to specific articles. If these are rejected, the initiative will be sent to Mexico’s states, where it’s likely to receive approval from more than half of the legislatures, the threshold for changing the constitution.
The bill, passed by the Senate two days ago, would change Mexico’s charter to permit companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and Chevron Corp. (CVX) to drill for oil for the first time since 1938. It would allow production sharing and licenses for outside companies that will also be able to log crude reserves for accounting purposes. Supporters say it will boost economic growth, while opponents say it will funnel the nation’s resource wealth to foreign investors.
Mexico has taken a giant step toward the most radical opening of the country’s nationalized oil and gas industry in 75 years, a move analysts say could boost lagging petroleum production here and further cement North America’s new reputation as an energy-producing powerhouse.
Passage of a bill in the Mexican Senate was hailed this week by oil industry analysts and goes much further in the effort to attract outside investment to Mexico than a proposal originally introduced in August by President Enrique Peña Nieto’s centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. Peña Nieto praised the more vigorous measure Wednesday.