Weekly News Summary: March 15th

Coffee by Flikr user samrevelThe 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…

On Monday, President Enrique Peña Nieto furthered his legislative agenda by unveiling plans to reform Mexico’s telecommunications and television sectors. The reforms, he introduced, “represent challenges for the businesses of this sector, but they also open new opportunities.” Televisa, led by Emilio Azcárraga, and América Móvil, owned by Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, both issued statements welcoming the proposals. Reuters reported that while the reforms may significantly reduce both companies’ revenue, they may also represent an opportunity for Slim and Azcárraga “to make inroads into each other’s territory.”

The Financial Times was impressed with Peña Nieto’s boldness, pointing out that in his first 100 days as president, “he has taken on the rich and powerful in ways that seemed impossible less than a year ago.” The Economist, meanwhile, warned that if Peña Nieto’s reforms succeed, opposition parties may have a hard time gaining voters’ support in the 2018 presidential elections. Analysts highlighted the growing importance of the Pacto por México in advancing Peña Nieto’s legislative agenda, and anticipated tax and energy reforms are next on the list.

Though less prominent this week, immigration reform also made headlines. In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Argeo Paul Cellucci and Stephen R. Kelley argued for free movement of labor between Canada, the United States and Mexico – “the final logical step of NAFTA.” Michael Dear, in his contribution to The New York Times drew a parallel between the Berlin Wall and the U.S.-Mexico border fence, predicting it too will one day be demolished. Lastly, Demetrios Papademetriou, president and co-founder of the Migration Policy Institute, published a thoughtful piece in The American Prospect arguing for the reinsertion of “legality, orderliness and values” into U.S. immigration policy.

What Mexican columnists had to say…

The telecommunications reform presented on EPN’s 101st day in office at the CFE’s Technological Museum received the most attention this week in the Mexican opinion columns. The reform was successfully approved by PRI, PAN and PRD leaders, but still needs Congress’ approval. It is notable that the Chamber of Deputies’ Constitutional Issues Committee only began analyzing the telecommunications initiative on Thursday afternoon. Although the telecommunications reform will benefit Mexicans and will allow more competition, important questions remain about those who invest in this sector and what criteria IFT (Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones) will use to define a business’ dominance.

While the reform was celebrated and the Chamber of Deputies has made plans to approve it by Easter Break, skepticism has begun to surround the initiative. Sara Pavlovich, Gerardo Ruiz Esparaza, and Manlio Fabio Beltrones have defended the reform, but rumor has it there are internal divisions within the Chamber of Deputies and not all deputies will back the reforms. PAN unity will be tested during an upcoming debate in which members will discuss the initiative. While the final outcome is still unknown, Jorge Fernández Menéndez argues that the telecommunications reform should not be passed without discussing key points that are important for its future.

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