Senate Passes Political Reform – Energy Reform Next, Stolen Radioactive Material, and Mexico´s Competitiveness vis-à-vis China – Weekly News Summary: December 6

December 6, 2013

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English language press had to say…

This week the Washington Post noted that Mexico’s Senate passed the most dramatic political reform attempt in decades which would allow re-election of federal legislators, create new election oversight and make the Attorney General’s office independent from the executive. It also highlighted that the Senate is moving on to energy reform, which is considered the most critical part of the reform package that President Enrique Peña Nieto is pushing to have passed before the end of this year. The Economist noted that it will be difficult for Mexico´s left to stop the Energy Reform after Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador suffered a heart attack on December 3rd. His absence weakened a blockade of the Senate that he had promised. Meanwhile, the Financial Post was not enthusiastic over the Energy Reform. In an article published this week, it argued that that even if the proposed reform is passed within a year, it could take up to 10 years for production to begin in the deep-sea reserves. Additionally, the profit-sharing contracts may not be as profitable as anticipated, as the terms under the proposal stipulate that foreign companies would receive a share of the revenues from the fields, rather than the oil and gas to sell themselves.

In another note, the BBC reported on Wednesday that a truck carrying medical radioactive material had been stolen near Mexico City. Mexico’s Nuclear Security Commission said that at the time of the theft, the cobalt-60 teletherapy source was “properly shielded”. Nonetheless, the Washington Post noted on Thursday, that the theft of the material sparked international concern over the possibility that the cobalt-60 could be used in a “dirty bomb.” By Wednesday afternoon, the same news outlet reported that authorities had found the stolen the radioactive material. The National Journal claimed that after the theft, a group of critics questioned if the International Atomic Energy Agency’s radiological security rules were enough for securing radioactive materials.

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Mexico Senate approves major political reforms

December 4, 2013

The Washington Post, 12/4/2013

Mexican_SenateMexico’s Senate has passed the most dramatic political reform attempt in decades that would allow re-election of federal legislators, create new election oversight and make the Attorney General’s office independent from the executive.

The Senate approved the overall reform late Tuesday, but continued to debate certain details early Wednesday. The reform measure still has to be approved by the lower House.

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Mexico Receives Letter From Drug Capo Sought by US

December 4, 2013

ABC News,

5582822219_182abf7ec5_oFugitive drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero sent a letter to the Mexican government asking officials not to give in to the United States’ demand for his capture and extradition to try him for the 1985 killing of a U.S. federal agent.

Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam confirmed on Tuesday that he received the letter, which was also addressed to President Enrique Pena Nieto and the Interior Ministry. He said excerpts that appeared in the investigative magazine Proceso were correct, but would not elaborate further on its contents.

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Elba Esther Gordillo – The Expert Take

February 27, 2013

shutterstock_70763086By Duncan Wood, 2/27/2012

La jugada del experto-The Expert Take in Spanish

Yesterday’s PGR arrest of Elba Esther Gordillo on charges of embezzlement marks a bold step forward by the Pena Nieto administration to establish its authority and legitimacy in the eyes of the Mexican public, and to send a message to Mexico’s most powerful unions. The arrest comes after the successful passage of an education reform bill through Congress, earning the government plaudits from international observers, who saw it as a much-needed attack on the power of the teachers union, the SNTE, but receiving a skeptical response from many national critics who believed that the government would not follow through with implementation of the new laws. This new development destroys those doubts about the seriousness of the Pena Nieto government to take on the union, and to mobilize the sovereign power of the state against vested interests.

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Three Assistant Attorneys are announced [in Spanish]

December 7, 2012

El Universal, 12/06/2012

pgrPresident Enrique Peña Nieto appointed three new assistant attorneys that will join the PGR run by Jesús Murillo Karam and emphasizes the inclusion of people close to the president and a  PAN politician.

The three appointees are Alfredo Castillo Cervantes, Ricardo Francisco García Cervantes, and Mariana Benítez.

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Operation Fast and Furious

October 1, 2012

ABC News, 9/30/12

The U.S. government’s botched Fast and Furious gun-trafficking operation left a trail of bullets and bodies in Mexico. In a special investigation by Univision News, which aired Sunday night, several new revelations came to light…

Andrew Selee, vice president for programs at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C. says the Mexican government was aware of the gun-walking, in spite of releasing a statement saying they were not.

William Newell, the special agent in charge of ATF’s Phoenix field division and one of the supervisors of Fast and Furious, told Univision, via his attorney, that the Procuraduria General De La Republica (PGR) in Mexico was certainly aware of the operation.

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Fight to the Death Among the Zetas [in Spanish]

September 17, 2012

El Pais, 9/16/12

The PGR has formally announced that the Zetas have in fact split and are warring among themselves.  They have been announcing the split (each side accusing the other of being disloyal) in narcomantas and narcocorridos so the break has been expected for some time.  Various analysts who study Mexico have predicted that the break will bring more violence.

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