Latinos’ Role in Local Elections, Wave of Success for Mexican Filmmakers, and President Peña Nieto takes Boldest Security Step Yet– Weekly News Summary: November 8

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…

One of the main topics for this week’s news outlets was on the role Hispanics are playing in local elections. According to the New York Times, Republicans in Congress have seen two test cases for how the party should move on immigration. Exit polls showed that Gov. Chris Christie boosted to a blowout victory because he improved his standing among Latinos by 19 percentage points over his first run. In Virginia, it is estimated that Latinos accounted for 35,000 out of about 55,000 votes in Mr. McAuliffe’s slim margin victory. According to the Newspaper, House Republicans are becoming aware of the strategic importance of Latinos.

In a similar topic, Politico reported that the AFL-CIO is poised to launch a seven-figure television campaign assailing House Republicans for their inaction on immigration reform. These new commercials are aimed at raising the stakes for the whole Republican Party in the debate over immigration, said AFL-CIO strategist Tom Snyder.

The Miami Herald informed that several Mexican universities are considering stepping in to offer accredited university classes in the U.S.  to primarily serve the immigrant population that lags far behind others in college education.  California, where public universities have been dealing with deep budget cuts and enrollment limits, probably will be the principal target of Mexican universities. There’s a huge market in the state, where Latinos account for more than 52 percent of public school students who’ll eventually be college-aged.

On another note, BBC published an article stating that Mexican cinema has been on the crest of a wave of success for over a decade now. And it is still thriving despite the challenges of a global recession and fierce competition for international funding. Variety Magazine highlighted that Eugenio Derbez’s movie “Instructions Not included” became the second-highest-grossing foreign-language film of all time. The success of the industry has gathered pace as Mexican directors and producers are regularly reaping awards in festivals such as Cannes, Sundance and San Sebastian, and it is expected that Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” will be nominated for an Academy Award.

On a final topic, the Los Angeles Times reported that the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto took the boldest step yet in its effort to solve the problems plaguing Mexico’s second-busiest container port by sending the military and federal police to take over security functions from the municipal police force. Federal officials hope to cut off a key source of profit for the cartels, particularly a group known as the Knights Templar.

The BBC informed that Mexico’s Supreme Court overturned a decision by an appeals court to free one of the country’s first drug cartel chiefs three months ago. Caro Quintero was one of three leaders of the once powerful Guadalajara Cartel, which at its height in the 1980s, was believed to be responsible for more than 70% of the cocaine smuggled into the US. The U.S. State Department is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest of the Mexican drug lord.

What Mexican columnists had to say…

Mexican columnists discussed a number of important political and economic issues this week.  In an op-ed in Milenio, María Amparo Casar pointed out that history shows that employing a strategy of extreme policing and citizen-behavior regulation does not lead to an increased respect of the law. Instead, it causes a spike in corruption. She argued that there is time for Mexico to explore alternative options, and to focus on cultivating socially responsible citizens. The government should work to foster a feeling of mutual responsibility and duty.

 

Several columnists wrote about the PRI and President Enrique Peña Nieto. Leo Zuckermann noted that recent figures on homicides, kidnappings and extortions reveal that Mexico’s security problems are far from being solved. During the Calderon administration, he argued, officials spoke too much about violence and insecurity, often exaggerating. However, the current administration is far too quiet – and is running the risk of losing sight of the true dimension of this problem, or of denying it.

Writing on a similar topic, Jorge Chabat, highlighted that the decades that the PRI ruled Mexico were characterized by boundless corruption and exceptional stability, a model called “efficient corruption”. With the election of Peña Nieto, he stated, we have returned to this model. He argued that this model is flawed because while it solves the government efficiency problem in the short term, it does not ensure long term efficiency, Additionally, there are insufficient funds to pay off all those who may cause instability, and this is why the PRI’s return has not been as smooth as some expected. It’s not easy to fix something, even if you were the one that broke it.

José Antonio Crespo stated that there are strong indications that a law that will allow Mexican lawmakers to be re-elected will be passed, as the PAN will likely ask for it in return for support for the energy reform. He argued that reelection will allow people to be represented by the people they want, will make legislators more accountable, and will permit lawmakers to become more capable and experienced. Some things must be agreed on before the measure is passed, however. Meanwhile Jorge Fernández Menéndez pointed out that the political and energy reforms are now irreversibly linked, dependent on one another. Not passing an energy reform would be akin to economic suicide for Mexico, and yet the PAN has made it clear that they will not negotiate on the energy reform until political reform is passed.

 

Writing on the economy, Leo Zuckermann, recalled how in the last few months of 2012, thanks to a highly successful PR campaign, the foreign press spoke of “Mexico’s economic moment” and of the “return of the Aztec Tiger”. A year later, he stated, it seems that these predictions were way off. Mexico’s economic future is unclear, despite the recently passed fiscal reform. The author stated that experts don’t believe the fiscal policy will improve the economic situation, nor that it will be “counter-cyclical”. Rather, they believe that the new taxes and the increased deficit may slow down growth.

 

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