Energy Reform Necessary to Maintain Mexico’s Moment, Michoacan’s Vigilante Groups and Mark Zuckerberg “Hacks” for Immigration Reform – Weekly News Summary: November 22

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’s press had interesting reports on the Mexican economy. The New York Times published an article describing how dozens of foreign companies are investing and filling in new industrial parks along central Mexico. As a result, middle-class housing is popping up and new universities are waving in classes of students eager to study engineering, aeronautics and biotechnology, signaling a growing confidence in Mexico’s economic future and what many see as the imported meritocracy of international business. On a similar note, the Wall Street Journal noted that even though Latin America has been a laggard among developing markets this year, some advisers are convinced the resource-rich region is poised for a turnaround. But instead of investing once again in Brazil, portfolio managers are finding smaller markets in Mexico and Chile as better bets to tap into Latin America’s long-term growth. Finally, the Economist claimed that to implement and to boost sustaining growth, a bold energy reform is needed. Without it, Mexico’s moment may prove to become fleeting one.

Not all news was good news over Mexico. The Christian Science Monitor published an article stating that vigilante groups have armed themselves in Michoacán and formed “community police” forces to stop the violence. According to the report, this is part of the dramatic panorama on display in a state that’s been virtually controlled by organized crime for seven years. The news outlet however, questions whether the supplanting of one powerful illegal armed group by another one can be called an improvement. The Business Insider reported that, according to the Mexican Human Rights Commission, violence has increased in Mexico’s prisons and the majority are controlled by inmates. The commission found in an annual report that 65 of the country’s 101 most populated prisons were under the control of convicts in 2012, a 4.3 percent increase from 2011. Finally, the Los Angeles Times reported that the availability of heroin and methamphetamine in the U.S. is on the rise, due in part to the “ever evolving entrepreneurial spirit of the Mexican Drug Cartels”, according to a new study released by the DEA. The study also notes that cocaine availability was down. The report is an effort to describe the threat posed to the United States by the trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs.

On immigration, the Los Angeles Times noted that Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg brought undocumented immigrants to Silicon Valley to “hack” for immigration reform. The young software programmers broke into small groups and spent all night coming up with new applications as part of an effort to put the spotlight back on what they say is an urgent need for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. On the same topic but a different note, the Wall Street Journal has noted an important shift in migratory patterns and claimed that migrant workers are no longer relying on the U.S. as heavily as they did for better-paying jobs. Instead, they have moved more to developing economies, creating a shift in money transfers out of countries like Chile, Brazil and Malaysia.

What Mexican columnists had to say…

 

This week, Reforma contributor Denisse Dresser wrote that the costs of the war against drugs have become unbearable for Mexico. She argued that the prohibitionist focus on drugs has generated more collateral damage than it has a positive impact. As a consequence, it is necessary to engage in a serious debate to regulate the legal use of drugs. This will shift the government’s attention to public health, instead of merely chasing criminals.

 

Jorge Fenrández Menéndez discussed that the budget that was approved in Mexico last week will give the government a 14 percent increase over the previous year, and is the biggest budget of all time. He stated that not only will the federal government benefit, but also the state governments and Mexico City. This measure is important, but unless it is accompanied by an energy reform that allows private investment in the energy sector (and not only in oil), it won’t ensure the economy grows at a significant rate. Ciro Gómez Leyva penned a piece on the energy reform, saying that after watching the PRD’s rally opposing the reform this past Sunday, it is evident that the party will fight to the end to block the proposed reform. The author discussed that President Peña Nieto has the necessary votes to pass it, but the political strategy he has used has complicated the environment and hindered the possibilities of passing a reform that could lead to profound change. Under these circumstances, as Luis Rubio has correctly affirmed, if the legislation does not create a competitive sector, the reform will be a disaster.

 

María Amparo Casar tackled the issue of the INE in her latest piece. She wrote that when the Pacto por Mexico was signed, the three main political parties agreed that they would create an electoral authority that was national and that would oversee federal, state and municipal elections. They established that the objectives of such an initiative were to reduce the costs of democracy and to legitimize local elections. She argued that the new hybrid proposal will not allow for these objectives to be met. 

 

Finally, Leo Zuckermann, commented that Mexico’s leading politicians are being overcome by nostalgia. He wrote that they are fondly remembering “the good old days”, despite the fact that they were not actually all that good. Take the PRD, poised to bring back its founder as president of the party, or the PRI evoking Lazaro Cardenas when proposing its new energy reform, or the fact that the PAN founder was granted our country’s highest honor. The columnist argued that instead of wasting time being sentimental, Mexico’s leaders should be thinking about the future. Looking back won’t solve the problems – we need to look forward to find solutions.

 

 

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