Op Ed: Mexico’s critical, fragile compromises

November 15, 2013

The Globe and Mail, 11/15/2013

MEXICO CONGRESSJust about everything except the mouths of politicians seems to the paralyzed in the U.S. political system, especially Congress. Getting one big thing done seems next to impossible.

In Canada, the government can get things through the Commons and Senate, courtesy of its majority in both houses. But negotiate with the opposition parties? Are you crazy?

In Mexico, by contrast, something remarkable and controversial is unfolding. In less than a year, President Enrique Pena Nieto and his party are negotiating with both other parties in Congress on an array of reforms that would leave the legislatures of Canada and the United States breathless.

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Protesting Mexico teachers may decamp in time for president’s ‘cry’

September 13, 2013

Los Angeles Times, 9/13/2013

protests by Edu-TouristPossible good news for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto: A leader of a striking teachers union whose campouts and roadblocks have wreaked havoc on this chaotic capital for weeks suggested Thursday that the group would probably clear out of the historic main square to allow the president to issue the famous “Cry of Independence” there Sunday evening.

Francisco Bravo, the leader of a branch of the striking National Coordinator of Education Workers, or CNTE, said in a radio interview that “all signs indicate that we’re leaving” the massive tent city that the group erected weeks ago in the Zocalo, or central square, according to the news service Milenio.

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Mexico’s left wages campaign to derail Peña Nieto’s agenda

September 9, 2013

Los Angeles Times, 9/9/2013

protest -- stroke -- resistanceIn recent weeks, thousands of members of a feisty teachers union have descended upon Mexico City, blocking streets to protest an education reform measure that includes a controversial new scheme for evaluating teachers. Last weekend, they were joined by thousands more people who oppose Peña Nieto’s plan to open the state-owned oil company, a longtime source of national pride, to foreign investment.


The Approval of the Education Reform, Teachers’ protests and NSA Spying of Enrique Peña Nieto – Weekly News Summary: September 6

September 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 press largely covered the approval of the Education Reform in the midst of the teachers’ protests. Mexico’s Senate overwhelmingly passed a reform of the notoriously dysfunctional public school system early Wednesday, handing President Enrique Pena Nieto an important victory in his push to remake some of his country’s worst-run institutions.

The New York Times noted that despite being considered a major step toward instituting evaluations of public schoolteachers and ending their practice of buying and inheriting their posts, analysts allege violent protests by teachers had led Congress to include provisions in the new legislation that might undermine the overhaul. The pressure resulted in concessions that “diluted key aspects” of the original plan like the provision that mandatory evaluations would remain confidential.

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Teachers angry over education reform partially block main approach to Mexico City airport

September 6, 2013

The Associated Press via The Washington Post, 9/6/2013

protest -- stroke -- resistanceTeachers angry over the passage of a national education reform partially blocked the main approach to Mexico City’s airport Thursday, forcing many passengers to leave their cars and rush through the streets on foot to catch flights.

Hundreds of police guarded the airport to prevent the members of a dissident teachers union from blocking other entrances. Airport management advised passengers to take alternate routes to the airport, including the subway.

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Governing Mexico: The suits v the street

September 6, 2013

The Economist, 9/6/2013

protestors“MEXICAN presidents used to go to Congress on September 1st waving at the people in the streets like Stalin passing through Red Square. Soon they’ll be addressing the nation from a bunker.” So Lorenzo Meyer, a leftist Mexican historian, satirised Enrique Peña Nieto’s first state-of-the-nation address on September 2nd. The president delivered it not to a full house of Congress, as used to be common, nor in the National Palace. Instead—a day later than originally scheduled—he addressed a select audience under a canopy outside his home. From there his televised message was broadcast nationwide.

It must have been galling. In a country that once invested so much power in its leaders it was dubbed “the perfect dictatorship”, September is the month of most presidential pomp. Two weeks after his speech to the nation, Mr Peña is due to deliver the annual “grito”, or cry of independence, from the balcony of the National Palace. But the balcony is boarded up for security, and anyone trying to get there has to trip over the tents and tarpaulins of thousands of striking teachers who are camped in the Zócalo, as the central plaza is called, protesting against Mr Peña’s education reforms.

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Mexican lawmakers pass education overhaul

September 5, 2013

The Washington Post, 9/5/2013

Mexican_SenateLawmakers approved a major overhaul of Mexico’s public education system early Wednesday, giving President Enrique Peña Nieto a crucial victory in his drive to fix some of the country’s most dysfunctional institutions.

Mexican senators voted 102 to 22 for a package of measures that will establish a standardized testing system for evaluating teacher performance and hiring faculty, ending the corrupt practices that allowed union bosses to buy and sell classroom jobs and pad their pockets at the expense of students.

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Mexico’s Pena Nieto defends ‘arduous’ reform agenda

September 5, 2013

Los Angeles Times, 9/5/2013

Photo by Flickr user Angelica RiveraDespite the massive street protests that forced him to change the venue of his first state of the nation speech, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto used the occasion Monday to defend his ambitious reform agenda, pledging to forge ahead with what he called the “grand transformation” that his country requires.

In an apparent reference to the street protests — which forced him to delay the speech, and move it from the National Palace to Los Pinos, the presidential residence, a few miles away — he said that resistance was “a natural consequence when one carries out great transformations. The important thing is to not lose sight of the objective, to move forward and not stop.”

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Mexico Girds for Education Standoff After Contentious Bill Passes

September 3, 2013

education - pile of booksThe Wall Street Journal, 9/3/2013

President Enrique Peña Nieto, facing fresh protests on Monday from a radical teacher union, vowed to press on with plans to revamp the nation’s educational system as well as overhaul the state energy sector and tax code, urging lawmakers to ignore pressure from the street and reshape the country in the coming months.

The president, giving his first state of the nation address since taking office in December, spoke the morning after one of his biggest victories to date: a vote late Sunday by the country’s lower house of Congress to pass a bill calling for teacher evaluations and the possible firing of ones deemed inferior.

Voting on the bill had been delayed for nearly two weeks by the teachers who have descended on Mexico City, blockading Congress and vital avenues. On Sunday, lawmakers were taken to Congress in buses and under heavy police guard, where they passed the bill, 390 in favor to 69 against. The bill this week will go to the Senate, where approval looks likely.

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Mexico City: the Teachers’ Protests and the Heaven’s case – Weekly News Summary: August 30

August 30, 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, teachers’ protests were one of the main topics on debate. Mexico City was (is) paralyzed by teachers who belong to the “Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación” union. The main driver of the protests, as reported by The Washington Post, is the Government’s intention to overhaul the nation’s public schools by changing how teachers are hired, fired and evaluated.

As reported on our previous Weekly Summary, the teachers blocked the Nation’s Congress forcing lawmakers to work on the city’s outskirts. They destroyed several cars and blocked the main roads to the airport, causing thousands of passengers to miss their flights. This week the protests continued. They  forced Mexico City’s marathon to reroute, and as   pointed out by The Washington Post, hundreds of ski-mask-wearing, rock-throwing, teachers smashed windows and set fire to the offices of the major political party in Guerrero. Thousands more flooded Mexico City, blocking national TV networks, subway lines and swarming the roads around Los Pinos, the official residence of the President.

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