After a year of unprecedented change, Mexico faces a post-reform landscape in 2014. Attention will focus on bringing the economy back to life after 2013′s downturn, improving security after a number of glaring setbacks and ensuring that political stability is maintained, despite staunch opposition from numerous social groups that have rejected many of the new reforms. Given these challenges, 2014 will be crucial for setting the tone of Enrique Peña Nieto’s next five years in office, as both the government and the opposition adjust their strategies to the new rules of the game.
In Latin America, this looks to be the year of Brazil — thanks to the impending World Cup and presidential elections. But with another lackluster year looming in emerging markets, fans of transformation, growth and investment potential should instead look to Mexico.
Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, is expected to win a second term this year, and its soccer team stands a good shot at victory. But growth has slowed considerably. In the world’s seventh largest economy, reforms are stagnating and the country faces a possible ratings downgrade.
Mexico, by contrast, is in the throes of serious reforms. It will likely lead Latin America with at least 4 percent growth this year and an improving investment outlook. Standard & Poor’s recently boosted Mexico’s credit ratings because of energy reforms that the rating company trumpeted last month as a “watershed moment” for the country. It is becoming a story of inverted fortunes, as Michael Shifter and Cameron Combs of the Inter-American Dialogue recently wrote.
Reuters reported on Monday that President Barack Obama will travel on February 19 to Toluca, Mexico, where he will meet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto at a summit of North American leaders. When Obama touches down on Mexican soil, Animal Politico notes, it will be the fifth time since he entered the White House in 2008 that the president has done so, making Mexico the country he has most frequently visited – eclipsing France, to which he has traveled on four occasions.
The first two visits came in 2009, during the tenure of now-ex-president Felipe Calderón, with whom Obama discussed US-Mexico cooperation on the war against drugs and responses to the financial crisis in which the United States remained sunk. Nearly three years later, in 2012, they met again to talk another financial crisis – the one over European debt – but last May, when newly elected Peña Nieto greeted Obama, there was much talk of turning the page in US-Mexico relations. Peña Nieto had campaigned on a promise to scale back the military presence in hotbeds of cartel activity and aim less for high-profile kingpin arrests – which often triggered fights for control in the power vacuums it left – than his predecessor.
President Obama will travel to Toluca, Mexico, on Feb. 19 for a meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the White House announced Monday.
The gathering of North American leaders will focus on “issues important to the daily lives of all of North America’s people, including economic competitiveness, entrepreneurship, trade and investment and citizen security,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters
More than 3,000 feet below the waves in the the Gulf of Mexico, with a drill bit wider than a human thigh, Mexico is digging for its future.
The gulf is one of the world’s great largely unexplored reservoirs of oil and gas, industry experts say, but the state-run oil monopoly Pemex so far has lacked the money and technical capacity to extract from its deeper waters. Now that the country has passed legislation opening up its beleaguered oil industry to outsiders for the first time in 75 years, the government is hoping that future partnerships with foreign companies to drill for hard-to-access undersea oil will mean billions of dollars of new revenue.
On Dec. 1, 2012, Enrique Peña Nieto was inaugurated as Mexico’s 57th president in the midst of a horrific wave of drug violence. More than 100,000 people had been killed in the six years since his predecessor, Felipe Calderón, had declared a “war on drugs” and deployed the Mexican Army to tackle the country’s powerful drug cartels.
Peña Nieto’s victory marked the return of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which had governed uninterrupted for over 70 years until it was unseated in 2000. During its reign, the PRI had perfected a model for controlling virtually every aspect of Mexican life, including drug trafficking. Peña Nieto — young, polished, and Ken-doll handsome — pledged to end Calderón’s war without returning to the PRI’s old “pact,” which had allowed Mexico’s cartels to operate as long as they played by certain rules and gave the government its cut. Yet Peña Nieto offered few details, during his campaign and his first months in office, as to how his approach to the cartels would be different.
Nor did Peña Nieto offer a plan for dealing with one of the most nefarious aspects of Mexico’s drug war: disappearances. This omission was particularly troubling given that, on Nov. 29, 2012 — two days before Peña Nieto was sworn in — a government list had been exposed showing that more than 25,000 people had been disappeared or had otherwise gone missing during Calderón’s term. (The list was leaked to the Washington Post by a government analyst who suspected that neither Calderón’s nor Peña Nieto’s administration would ever release the staggering number.)
Comments to the United States Department of Commerce regarding the U.S.‐Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED)January 10, 2014
Mexico Institute Director Duncan Wood and Associate Christopher Wilson responded to the U.S. Department of Commerce Federal Register Notice published on November 25, 2013, which requested stakeholder input on the U.S.‐Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED)
In their comments, they noted that Mexico and the United States share an economic space and an economic future, and that the HLED is an important and potentially fruitful element in moving that future forward and maximizing the benefits for both countries. They stated that it should be both consolidated through high‐level engagement and institutionalization, and broadened to include a greater dialogue with the private sector and civil society and an expanded focus on border affairs.
Read their testimony here.
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.”
An easing of tension among the largest Mexican criminal groups has been counteracted by the growing influx of Central America’s most notorious gangs, a development that, if continued, could challenge efforts to improve Mexican security for years to come.
As reported by El Diario, a new report from Mexico’s Justice Department details the growing links between the Central American Maras and the nation’s principal criminal groups. Gangs like Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha perform a range of services for gangs like the Zetas, the Knights Templar, and the Familia Michoacana.
It was going to change the world. Some said for the better and others for the worse. As we observe the 20th Anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), listen to three perspectives (Canada, Mexico, US) on the successes, failures, and implications of NAFTA for future trade agreements.
Link can be found here.