New Publication | A Mandate for Mexico

June 29, 2015

By Lucy Conger

mandate for mexicoIt was not so long ago that Mexico teetered on the brink of bankruptcy following a short-lived oil boom and a wild run of government spending. And, until quite recently, Mexico, despite sharing a 2,000-mile border with the United States, kept foreign goods out and gave domestic industries nearly exclusive access to a country-sized captive market.

Free trade has made Mexico a powerful manufacturing platform, a top global automobile assembler, and has radically diversified the economy, sharply reducing dependence on oil exports. The paradigm shift that unfettered Mexico’s protected and closed economy has been highly successful in creating a stable economic and policy environment and in making Mexico a marketfriendly global super-trader. But formidable challenges remain. Economic growth has slowed and consistently falls short of the level needed to create enough jobs to absorb the expanding domestic labor force.

Mexico is at a critical juncture. The record shows that the first wave of reforms that began 30 years ago failed to deliver the desired boost to economic growth and competitiveness. The reforms now underway promise even bigger changes for the economy, particularly by opening up the long closed petroleum industry. Looking ahead, can the new wave of reforms move Mexico into a higher gear, stimulate increases in productivity and economic growth, lubricate the economy with more credit, establish and enforce genuine competition in strategic sectors, and train the work force in modern skills? Or, three decades hence will we look back and say the Peña Nieto reforms were inadequately implemented and Mexico remains a low-growth, low-productivity economy?

This is a timely moment for reviewing Mexico’s success with deep economic reforms and asking what is required from here on in to make the new wave of reforms successful so that Mexico and Mexicans can enjoy the benefits of higher growth and productivity. This study offers a qualitative analysis of the deep economic reforms undertaken in Mexico during the past 30 years, the progress made and informed opinions on what is needed today to boost economic growth, enhance competitiveness and, hopefully, increase employment. The study summarizes the views about the successes and failures of the first wave of reforms as seen by a select group of former cabinet members and other prominent policy makers, consultants to government, opinion shapers in policy centers, and thought leaders in academia.

Download the report here.


Upcoming Event! Advancing Justice Sector Reform in Mexico

June 23, 2015

justice - gavel and bookWHEN: Friday, June 26, 9:30-11:00am

WHERE: 5th Floor Conference Room, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC

Click here to RSVP.

Mexico’s deadline to fully implement new, adversarial criminal trial procedures is less than one year away. The government of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has pushed strongly to comply with the constitutionally mandated shift to the new criminal justice system by June 18, 2015, particularly in light of the country’s ongoing security challenges. Together with the University of San Diego’s Justice in Mexico program, the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will host a panel discussion to examine current efforts to implement the new reforms. The discussion will include a presentation of recent survey data on the views of judges, prosecutors, attorneys, and police, as well as insights from a delegation of visiting law professors attorneys from Mexico’s National Autonomous University as part of the Oral Advocacy Skill-building Immersion Seminar (OASIS) funded by the Mérida Initiative. This program will be conducted in English and Spanish.

Speakers:

“Justice in Mexico: The Road Traveled and the Road Ahead”
David Shirk, Global Fellow, Mexico Institute; Professor, University of San Diego

“Progress Report: Judicial Reform Implementation in Mexico”
Octavio Rodriguez, Esq., Coordinator, Justice in Mexico, University of San Diego

“La preparación de la próxima generación de abogados en México”
Leoba Castañeda, Dean, Law School, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

“Algunos retos para el nuevo sistema penal”
Alberto Del Castillo Del Valle, Professor, Law School, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Comments:

Daniel Schneider, Professor, School of International Service, American University

Click here to RSVP.


UPCOMING EVENT! Criminal Justice in an Emerging Democracy: Perspectives from Mexico’s Inmates

March 23, 2015

hands in handcuffsWHEN: Friday, March 27, 9:00-10:30am

WHERE: 5th Floor Conference Room, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Click here to RSVP.

Mexico’s lower courts are undergoing a dramatic transformation, abandoning its behind-closed-doors, written criminal trials, and embracing a new criminal justice system (NCJS) with oral, adversary procedures. This reform template has been adopted by at least fourteen nations in Latin America. In order to measure the effects these reforms have on the criminal justice system, this event will present two studies that examine the system from an inmate’s perspective.

Roberto Hernández, the creator of the movies Presunto Culpable and El Tunel, will present a study that quantifies how authorities use their investigative powers to conduct eyewitness identification procedures; and interview or interrogate suspects. Elena Azaola will discuss a study conducted in 2014 in youth detention centers for adolescents who committed serious crimes. The study analyzes the background of these adolescents and the factors that contributed to their criminal actions.

Speakers

Roberto Hernández 
Mexican Lawyer and Filmmaker

Elena Azaola
Psychoanalyst and Anthropologist

Moderator

John Bailey
Professor, Georgetown University

Click here for more information.


As Outrage over Iguala Continues, Mexican President Calls for Police Reform

December 16, 2014

12/13/2014 Fronteras Radio

Bernardo Montoya/Reuters

Bernardo Montoya/Reuters

Mexico’s president wants to change his country’s constitution to replace local police with state police. He also wants legal authority to take over municipal governments infiltrated by organized crime.

But ongoing protests and recent polls suggest Mexicans aren’t convinced the change will make a difference.

The move follows disgust in Mexico over a long delay by the federal government to investigate the murders of 43 college students….

Andrew Selee, Executive Vice President of the Wilson Center and Senior Advisor to the Mexico Institute, is quoted, stating “What Iguala has reminded Mexicans is that there are some really major parts of the foundations of the rule of law in the country that are still very weak.”

Read more…


Surprise Mexican Energy Reform Winner Is Copper Miner

January 9, 2014

shutterstock_24590917Bloomberg, 01/08/2013

Grupo Mexico SAB (GMEXICOB) is set to benefit this year from an energy overhaul that will allow the country’s largest mining company to tap new opportunities in oil and gas.

Billionaire German Larrea’s holding company is seeking to expand operations after President Enrique Pena Nieto last month enacted a law that will allow foreign companies to produce crude for the first time since 1938. Grupo Mexico is looking into forming alliances and joint ventures for shale oil and gas projects, said Xavier Garcia de Quevedo, who heads the Mexico City-based group’s Southern Copper Minera Mexico unit.

Read more…


A few more pesos, a lot more stress

January 9, 2014

Photo by Flickr user Aleiex

The Economist, 01/04/2014

The Central de Abastos wholesale market is the largest of its kind in the world, sprawling over an area half the size of Mexico City’s airport. Yet on New Year’s Eve, it was still hard to move for the shoppers clogging up the 1-kilometre (1,100-yard) grocery aisle, buying everything from pig’s heads to sugar cane to grapes for that night’s festivities.

Outside, it was another story. People without enough money to shop were sifting through piles of discoloured and discarded avocados and tomatoes, wrapping what was still edible in scraps of newspaper and furtively carrying them off for their own more meagre supper.

For many of these Mexicans, life is getting harder. A fiscal reform that took effect on January 1st introduces a number of new taxes that are chiefly aimed at the rich but end up clobbering the poor. A value-added tax of 16% was slapped on various forms of public transport. In Mexico City the underground “metro” fare had already gone up before Christmas, a 66% increase from 3 pesos (23 cents) to 5 pesos. As part of a government drive to fight obesity (see article) the new levies also include a tax of 1 peso per litre on soft drinks and an 8% levy on some particularly calorific foods.

Read more…


Country of the Year? Try Mexico

December 16, 2013

Christian Science Monitor, 12/15/2013

Mexican Flag XXLLast week’s approval of reforms for the pivotal oil company Pemex caps a year of major reforms that could transform Mexico – and perhaps change the immigration debate in the US.

If an award could be given in 2013 for Country of the Year, Mexico might deserve it. No other country has done more this past year to put reforms in place to transform a nation – and with startling democratic consensus. The latest reform, approved Thursday by elected lawmakers, will allow foreign and private investment in the oil sector for the first time in more than 70 years. The move upends a notion of Mexican patriotism that stated the national identity rests on government monopoly of the petroleum industry.

Read more…


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