April 7, 2014
The Economist, 4/5/14
It didn’t take long for Mexico’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to react to the seriousness of the sex scandal erupting around it on April 2nd. Just hours after Cuauhtémoc Gutiérrez de la Torre, the party’s president in Mexico City, publicly denied a report that he kept a network of prostitutes on the party payroll for his personal use, the PRI put him on leave and called for a police investigation.
The story by MVS News, one of Mexico’s most influential radio programmes, is colourful and the allegations it makes are potentially very sordid. Mr Gutiérrez, as heavy-set as an ox, comes from a family that made a fortune on Mexico City’s rubbish tips. His murdered father (a former PRI stalwart) was known as the “King of Rubbish”. Heading the PRI in Mexico City is the highest office he has held, although the party has not ruled there since 1997. His office issued a statement saying the MVS report was “deceitful, ill-intentioned and slanderous” and that Mr Gutiérrez himself wanted an investigation.
January 10, 2014
Foreign Policy, 01/06/2014
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.)
December 16, 2013
Last week Mexico’s Congress approved a bill to end a seven-decade long state oil monopoly. In coming years foreign companies could invest as much as $20 billion a year in Mexico’s oil sector, thanks to new rules that will allow production sharing.
Although the energy reform bill, spearheaded by Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto during his first year in office, has been vociferously opposed by Mexico’s left, the bill has the backing of Peña’s centrist PRI party as well as the right-of-center party of former President Felipe Calderon. Together the PRI and the PAN had enough votes to push the bill through Congress, where it was approved 353-134.
December 16, 2013
Christian Science Monitor, 12/15/2013
Last week’s approval of reforms for the pivotal oil company Pemex caps a year of major reforms that could transform Mexico – and perhaps change the immigration debate in the US.
If an award could be given in 2013 for Country of the Year, Mexico might deserve it. No other country has done more this past year to put reforms in place to transform a nation – and with startling democratic consensus. The latest reform, approved Thursday by elected lawmakers, will allow foreign and private investment in the oil sector for the first time in more than 70 years. The move upends a notion of Mexican patriotism that stated the national identity rests on government monopoly of the petroleum industry.
December 12, 2013
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.
December 12, 2013
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.
December 12, 2013
The Mexican Senate approved the most far-reaching oil reform in 75 years on Tuesday, opening up Mexico’s $95 billion-a-year oil industry to private capital. In a building ringed by thousands of security forces, the ruling PRI party and the opposition PAN voted to pass the politically controversial reform, overriding the strong opposition by the leftist PRD party lawmakers who displayed a gigantic banner in the center of the hall reading: “NO TO PEMEX’S PRIVATIZATION.” Pemex is Mexico’s state-own oil monopoly.
December 11, 2013
The Washington Post, 12/11/2013
A midnight vote in the Mexican Senate moved the country a step closer to historic changes to the nation’s energy sector by approving constitutional amendments to reorganize Pemex, the hidebound state oil monopoly, and potentially open up vast pools of oil and gas to foreign companies for the first time in 75 years.
By a margin of 95 to 28, lawmakers approved the broad outlines of legislation allowing private investment into the country’s oil industry — although without the type of unfettered access that major oil companies wanted — then jumped back into hours of extended debate to hash out the details of the laws.
December 6, 2013
Fox News, 12/5/2013
Lawyers for a former Mexican governor charged in the United States with money laundering and drug trafficking say the charges are based on false accusations by people trying to bargain with U.S. prosecutors.
Attorney Josel Androphy says witnesses against former Tamaulipas Gov. Tomas Yarrington gave false information to get leniency from the U.S. government. Androphy spoke Thursday in Mexico City along with three Mexican lawyers for Yarrington.
December 6, 2013
Financial Times, 12/5/2013
Shortly after Nafta came into effect, Mexico suffered the crushing devaluation of the peso – the Tequila crisis – dashing hopes of imminent prosperity. As for democracy, fewer Mexicans today believe it is the best form of government than in 2000. Will the “Mexican moment” of Mr Peña Nieto’s government prove a similar disappointment?