This is a week where international and foreign policy affairs have an important significance. For instance, the death of former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, provides food for thought about her legacy and of her contemporary Western leaders’. Undoubtedly, the triumph of the “capitalist free world” triggered a global and open economic regime that has marked the last two decades. Mexico has not been apart from these developments and has even been at the forefront in Latin America in this sector. In fact, the desire for the so-called structural reforms, the promotion of the country as a foreign investment destination and the complexity of transnational phenomena such as migration, organised crime and environmental protection are derived from the convulsive times in which Thatcher was its “leading lady”.
1- Public opinion and government: irreconcilable differences? One of the features of President Enrique Peña’s administration has been the deployment of some “media hits” in order to enhance his public policy projects as well as his personal image. Among others, notable examples are the apprehension of Elba Esther Gordillo and the Pact for Mexico as a symbol of the government’s negotiation skills with the opposition – part of it, at least. Despite that it might be too early to evaluate the success of his policies, public opinion – according to surveys such as the ones published in Mexican newspaper Reforma last week, or the polling house Mitofsky regarding the first 100 days of the current administration’s government – gives Peña equal or lower approval ratings than his predecessors. Is the government failing at his communication strategy? Why are the relatively high approval ratings coming from intellectuals not concurring with the general public?
2 – “Peña’s Mexico” promotional visit to China. It cannot be overlooked that, after visiting Latin America, the President decided to “embark on the conquer” of the two Pacific Asian giants: Japan and China. Even though both nations have been regarded as quite complex challenges within the framework of Mexico’s economic liberalisation policies, the relationship with China encompasses even more tangled factors. If these kind of visits have an essential component, besides their diplomatic nature, is the attraction of external investments. Chinese practices that have threatened the whole global economic system such as dumping, manipulation of its currency, irrational exploitation of natural resources, piracy, etc. should not be disregarded. Under what perspective should the current government undertake commercial relations with Beijing? What are the main advantages for Mexico? How to protect itself against possible unfair trade practices?
3 – Where is the government of Guerrero? No, this question is not meant to be misleading in order for someone to answer: Acapulco! Rather, it’s a reflection on the Governor Ángel Aguirre’s administration, which has proved itself to be pasive, vagrant and even negligent, in the attention of some of its crucial problems. After protests driven by the local teacher’s unión, Aguirre not only backed unconstitutional reforms to his state’s education laws but has also done litte in his obligation to protect local Congress’ facilities and other sites affected by protestors. All this adds up to his endorsement of some self-defence groups, equally opposed to the Constitution. It should also not escape notice that he, as other local authorities, prefers to promote a financial bailout for his municipalities instead of seeking formulas that would restore them. To what extent is this local authorities’ attitude tolerable? How can transparency in their accountability be improved?
4- The two coming reforms… in the USA. This week, American Congress gets back to work following the Easter vacational period with a heavy agenda. Of course, negotiations about consolidation of its public finances stand out. Nevertheless, there are two other sensitive issues for Mexico: immigration reform and gun control. On the one hand emigration of Mexican nationals has been for years an “exhaust valve” for those who can’t find opportunities in their own country. However, decreasing migratory flows prove that this phenomenon has been changing throughout the years. On the other hand, controversy over the nearly-free firearms sales in the United States has been at the core within the framework to combat drug trafficking and organised crime. Would Mexico really be beneffited with these reforms? What would be the ideal scenario in that context?
5 – Union corruption in PEMEX over the energy reform. Enfoque (supplement to Mexican newspaper Reforma) devoted its April 7 edition in revealing (even more) corruption within the oil workers’ union, led by Senator Carlos Romero Deschamps. Without forgetting previous reports where the opulence of some of his family members was exhibited. These relatives would have been beneficiaries of an enormous wealth amassed based on his monthly income of 20 thousand pesos (about 1640 USD or 1060 GBP). Now the focus is on Deschamps’ nepotism. This, as is often the case with the vile products of Mexican syndicalism, is not surprising at all. Nevertheless, how can the current impunity be interpreted against the “no more untouchables” framework proclaimed by President Peña? Will the PEMEX reform include changes within its union, will it be completed despite the union’s existence or is the syndicate’s support required for this law to succeed?
Antonio De la Cuesta