Mexican President Signs Law for Special Economic Zones

5/31/16 Wall Street Journal 

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto and first lady Angelica Rivera salute during the military parade celebrating Independence Day at the Zocalo square in downtown Mexico CityMEXICO CITY—Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Tuesday signed a new law for the creation of special economic zones that will offer tax breaks together with trade and other benefits to attract investment into areas with undeveloped economic potential in poor southern states of the country.

In an event in the Pacific port city of Lázaro Cárdenas, Mr. Peña Nieto said the government would draw up regulations in the next month and decree the first special economic zones by the end of this year.

The first three are Lázaro Cárdenas, Puerto Chiapas in Mexico’s southernmost state of Chiapas, and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, joining the Gulf port of Coatzacoalcos with Salinas Cruz on the Pacific Coast. Another zone in the oil-belt states of Tabasco and Campeche, which has been hit hard by the downturn in the oil industry, is planned for 2017.

An anchor tenant, such as an industrial company that can attract suppliers and others, should be in place for each zone in 2018 at the latest, he said.

Mr. Peña Nieto illustrated the regional inequality of Mexico’s $1 trillion economy, where northern and central states have raced ahead of the south.
Two of every three people in extreme poverty in Mexico live in southern and southeastern states, he said. The three poorest states—Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero—are home to one in 10 Mexicans but receive just $1 of every $36 in foreign direct investment, and their exports are equivalent to just 2% of those in the six states that border the U.S.

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Mexico’s Lazaro Cardenas port thrives — with commerce and crime

federal police mexicoThe Los Angeles Times, 11/07/2013

The city of Lazaro Cardenas is a scrappy Mexican success story.

The once-obscure industrial port, between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco, has grown significantly over the last decade, using cheap domestic dock labor and a direct railroad connection to Texas to attract international cargo ships that might have otherwise gone to the Port of Los Angeles.

But it also has earned a darker reputation.

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More violence plagues Mexico; military supplants police force

Mexican Police officer with machine gun by flickr user dream2lifeThe Washington Post, 11/04/2013

While millions of Mexicans celebrated the Day of the Dead holiday in peace this weekend, violence erupted in numerous areas of the country as well, including a series of drug cartel-related gunfights Sunday in and around the border city of Matamoros that left at least 13 people dead.

On the other side of the country, the Mexican military on Monday reportedly disarmed the entire police force in the municipality of Lazaro Cardenas, home to the Pacific Ocean port of the same name, with troops taking over the police functions in the area.

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Mexico Imposes Military Control Over Major Seaport

Army detentions MichoacanThe New York Times, 11/05/2013

Mexico’s military has taken control of one of the nation’s biggest seaports as part of an effort to bring drug-cartel activity under control in the western state of Michoacan, officials said Monday.

Federal security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said soldiers are now responsible for policing duties in the city of Lazaro Cardenas as well as in the Pacific seaport of the same name. The port is a federal entity separate from the city.

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Fight over revered ex-president’s image dominates Mexico’s oil reform debate

Lazaro Cardenas
Lazaro Cardenas

The Washington Post, 8/16/2013

The son of Mexico’s most revered modern president, known for nationalizing Mexico’s oil industry, says his dad is rolling in his grave.

In fact, both sides in the heated debate over proposals to open Mexico’s oil industry to private companies are using the image of former president Lazaro Cardenas, roughly Mexico’s equivalent of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Current President Enrique Pena Nieto has launched a blitz of TV ads that prominently feature photos of Cardenas, who expropriated foreign oil companies and nationalized the industry when he was president from 1934 to 1940.

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Pemex Overhaul Harder as PRI Misses Mexican Congress Majority

Bloomberg, 07/03/2012

Incoming Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto will struggle to overhaul the state-run oil industry, a project he has called his “signature issue,” after his party won fewer seats in Congress than pre-election polls forecast.

That leaves Pena Nieto dependent on the opposition to overhaul tax and labor laws, and his PRI well short of the two- thirds majority needed for constitutional changes to open up the oil industry to private investment. He must now convince much of the opposition and his own party to back a law that he says is needed to reverse seven years of declining output in the largest supplier of crude to the U.S.

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Populism in Mexico: A Tale of Damage [In Spanish]

Letras Libres, April 2012

Can one speak of a Mexican populism? If so, who would be its Mexican exponents? Is there a danger of neo-populism? César Cansino reviews Mexican history in order to find the answers. First, he explains that populism has implied high costs for the country as it has either inhibited or postponed development, democracy, and social justice in Mexico. According to Cansino, it would seem as if populism has appeared and disappeared in Mexico in a pendulum effect, impulsed by inefficiency and opacity of previous administrations.

Cansino identifies three characteristics in the political experience of populism: 1) placing the people above the power of existing institutions, thanks to an artificial symbiosis created between the people and the populist leader, 2) the absence of institutional mediation, given that the figure of the populist leader becomes assimilated to people, 3) a personification of politics into the populist leader, leading the people to believe that they can only be heard through the leader. The recurrent presence of populism in Mexico, Cansino believes, have to do with the poor modernization of the country’s political system. Continue reading “Populism in Mexico: A Tale of Damage [In Spanish]”