Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Another sign of possible reform

The new Mexican president has joined with opposition parties to define political goals, he has arrested the powerful leader of the teachers union, and now, he's persuaded the PRI to change its "constitution" to allow private investment in PEMEX.

The technicos may be overcoming the dinosaurios (politicos). This, in spite of the pre-election worries that Peña Nieto represented the resurgence of the old school PRI politicians. We'll have to wait and see.

Mexico edges toward letting foreign oil firms invest in Pemex
Mexico's ruling party has taken a step toward opening its state oil company to outsiders, a move that could eventually allow U.S. oil firms to drill south of the border.

In an important test of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's sway over resistant factions of his party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party has changed its bylaws to clear the way for changes at Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex.

Pemex, a symbol of nationalist pride, is the top source of tax revenue for the Mexican government. But its production of oil has been declining dramatically and the company is in dire need of outside expertise for deep-sea exploration…

For Mexicans, the issue is deeply emotional as well as politically charged. The country nationalized its industry in 1938 in response to decades of perceived exploitation by foreign oil interests. Ever since, most Mexicans have considered public ownership of the country's most lucrative natural resource to be a cornerstone of their sovereignty…

Peña Nieto's plans for Pemex have already led the political left to accuse the government of trying to privatize the oil company. The government insists that overall ownership of the oil business will remain in state hands; the proposed changes are expected to be presented to Congress late this year.

"Let's show, with attitude, with action and with voice, that we are a new generation of PRI," Peña Nieto told his party. "This is an assembly of renewal and transformation."…

For Mexico, Sunday's vote was a significant gauge of whether Peña Nieto would be able to win the support of the more stubborn members of the party who remain wedded to old-style PRI nationalistic paternalism and who are not inclined to change the way Pemex is run.

PRI governed Mexico for seven decades until being ousted in 2000. With its return three months ago, the PRI government is seeking to reassert its authority over many aspects of Mexican political life while trying to convince observers that it is a more modern, less authoritarian party.

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