Mexico’s Vigilantes on the March

February 3, 2014

federal police mexicoThe New York Times, 2/3/14

In the past, Mexico’s revolutions and internal wars have all been eruptions stemming from deep social problems. They unleashed enormous destructive power and took decades to run their course. But they were always followed by long periods of peace and economic development. The country’s present social unrest has a different source and is of a different nature. If the sweeping economic reforms of 2013 attract investment and are implemented efficiently and honestly (two bigs ifs), the major remaining obstacles to real social progress will be the powerful force of organized crime and the weakness of legal and practical measures to stem it.

Since democracy came to Mexico in 2000, the country has sunk into a cycle of violence fed by intense criminality. Images circulating on social media starkly depict its horrific cruelty. It is true that narco cartels and other organized crime groups (with allies in high political positions) have grown vastly stronger since the 1970s. But no one foresaw the paradoxical cause of their huge expansion: the limits set by democracy on the formerly near-dictatorial power of the president.

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Mexico energy reform could bring $1.2 trillion to border towns

January 29, 2014

pipeline and guageFuelFix, 1/28/14

As Mexico moves to open its energy sector to international companies, the new investments and increased activity could mean a bonanza for  border towns on both sides, attracting as much as $1.2 trillion in economic activity to the region in the next decade, according to a BBVA Compass economist.

The Mexican energy reforms are a series a series of constitutional changes passe din December that ends the monopoly of Mexican oil company Pemex and opens all segments of the energy sector to private firms.  Mexico’s congress currently is debating the supporting rules that will provide key information on how the new policy will be implemented and regulated.

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Mexico’s gay rights movement gaining ground

January 28, 2014

shutterstock_89005363Aljazeera, 1/28/14

Intolerance of sexual diversity remains common across much of Mexico and Latin America, a strongly Catholic region where macho attitudes prevail. Yet the region has seen rapid change in recent years. Democratization, an increased respect for human rights, the onset of globalization and the growth of social media have all facilitated the expansion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) rights across the region. Argentina legalized same-sex marriage in 2010, and Brazil and Uruguay followed suit in 2013. The three countries are the only ones in Latin America to be named among the top 30 most gay-friendly nations in the world, as determined by LGBT travel website Spartacus World.

Mexico, meanwhile, is in the middle of a radical transformation. In 2009, Mexico City became the first Latin American jurisdiction to legalize marriage and adoption by same-sex couples, but the rest of the country is still playing catch-up with the liberal capital. A 2010 Supreme Court ruling means marriages registered in Mexico City are recognized everywhere, but same-sex ceremonies remain outlawed in most of the country and only a limited number have been allowed in five of Mexico’s 31 states.

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Operators await details as Mexico implements energy reforms

January 28, 2014

Energy -electricity_transmission_linesOil & Gas Journal, 1/27/14

International oil and gas companies keenly await more details as Mexico’s Congress drafts and debates secondary laws to implement its recently passed energy reforms. Opinions vary on whether Mexico can meet the deadlines it scheduled for secondary laws and the creation of various regulatory groups. On Dec. 21, 2013, Mexico’s sweeping energy reform became law, representing the most significant overhaul of Mexico’s oil, gas, and electric industries since 1938. Many ambiguities have yet to be resolved, various energy attorneys and consultants told Oil & Gas Journal.

Secondary legislation will stipulate contract logistics and tax reforms as Mexico ends the state-owned monopolies of oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and electric company Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE). Companies outside Pemex are to be allowed to participate in exploration and production activities, breaking the decades-old Pemex monopoly. The reforms also will allow direct private investment in Mexico’s midstream and downstream.

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Returning to Mexico: Why Mexican Immigrants Are Leaving the US

January 27, 2014

Mexico BricksEpoch Times, 1/27/14

Last year’s debate on immigration reform centered on discussions on improving border security for the nearly 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico by adding new fencing, more electronic detection technology including drones, and beefed-up numbers of security patrol. These concerns to secure the border presume that large numbers of Mexicans are highly motivated to leave their homeland, come to the United States, and never leave.  A new study challenges that assumption.

The U.S./Mexico Cycle: End of an Era” concludes that the days of massive legal and illegal immigration from Mexico have ended and are not likely to return. Hence, it is called “the end of an era,” according to Aracely Garcia-Granados, executive director of Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together (MATT), which conducted the study in collaboration with Southern Methodist University. The study confirms what a Pew Hispanic Center study first reported in 2012: The net emigration of Mexicans to the United States has slowed if not reversed, and that many Mexicans residing in the United States are going back home in historic numbers.

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Garcia-Granados spoke at the Wilson Center on Jan. 14 and Jan. 17 to report preliminary results on the study that was released in December 2013. If you were not able to attend the event, you can watch the webcast at bit.ly/19Xlvtr.


Mexico City Bets on Tap Water Law to Change Habit

January 24, 2014

woman shopping for water in big box storeAbc News, January 24, 2014

“Drink the water.” It’s a suggestion alien to Mexico City residents who have long shunned tap water in favor of the bottled kind and to the throngs of tourists who visit the city each year, bringing with them fears of “Montezuma’s Revenge.” But a law recently approved by Mexico City’s legislators will require all restaurants to install filters so they can offer patrons free, drinkable water that won’t lead to stomach problems and other ailments.

“We need to create a culture of water consumption,” said Dr. Jose Armando Ahued, health secretary for Mexico City. “We need to accept our water.” Bad tap water accounts in part for Mexico being the world’s top consumer of bottled water and — worse — soda, some 43 gallons per person a year. With an obesity epidemic nationwide, the city’s health department decided to back the water initiative.

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Mexico: How Much Has Changed

January 24, 2014

Mexico BricksThe Huffington Post, 01/23/2014

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.

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Legal U.S. Pot Won’t Bring Peace to Mexico

January 22, 2014

marijuana leafBloomberg, 01/21/2014

Since Jan. 1, Colorado has had a legal marijuana market. The same will soon be true in Washington State, once retail licenses are issued. Other states, such as California and Oregon, will likely follow suit over the next three years.

So does this creeping legalization of marijuana in the U.S. spell doom for the Mexican drug cartels? Not quite. The illegal marijuana trade provides Mexican organized crime with about $1.5 billion to $2 billion a year. That’s not chump change, but according to a number of estimates, it represents no more than a third of gross drug export revenue. Cocaine is still the cartels’ biggest money-maker and the revenue accruing from heroin and methamphetamine aren’t trivial. Moreover, Mexican gangs also obtain income from extortion, kidnapping, theft and various other types of illegal trafficking. Losing the marijuana trade would be a blow to their finances, but it certainly wouldn’t put them out of business.

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Mexico: What to Expect in 2014

January 17, 2014

Mexico BricksThe Huffington Post, 01/15/2017

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.

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Mexico’s reversal of fortune

January 17, 2014

Ancient Mayan pyramid, KukulcanReuters, 01/17/2014

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.

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