Analysis Agenda. August 5th, 2013

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Unlike previous years, August of 2013 appears to be a particularly intense month regarding political affairs, not just due to the announcement of future extraordinary session periods in both Congress chambers but because of growing internal activities of the two main opposition parties. Without undermining the importance of carrying out “pending” legislative issues and set the scenario for the much-heralded – though not expected by everyone – energy and tax reforms, it will be essential to settle out the priorities for the Mexican State. Decisionmakers have the responsibility of focusing their energies on issues whose gravity might increase exponentially even if they pretend they know nothing about it; managing solutions in order that one fixed problem does not imply worsening others; as well as dimensioning each debate. Byzantium would envy Mexico’s ability to discuss nothing at all, without fully self-destructing.
1-Zacatecas: “blocking folklore”. Over the past weekend, some media published information regarding violent events in the Zacatecas’ Center-Western region, particularly the Jerez, Fresnillo and Valparaíso municipalities. The result was 46 people dead, most of them victims of the confrontation between members of Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel. Beyond the seriousness of the events, the authorities’ denial about them is quite noteworthy. On August 4th, the Zacatecas Interinstitutional Coordination Group on Security, integrated by local and federal security and justice procurement institutions, refuted the events. That very day, the 18th Zacatecas Folkore Festival came to an end, one of the most relevant international events, whose development was not interrupted by any violent incident, even if it was under a constant environment of rumors and denials. Until what point is the information containment is justified, if violence is (allegedly) contained as well?
2-Electric sector: on “the dark side of the moon”. When talking about energy reform in Mexico, it is almost inevitable to fall into the cliché of thinking only about oil and PEMEX, leaving the rest of hydrocarbons aside, and not even taking into account one of the fundamental axis of any contemporary economy: electricity generation. Without forgetting that around 46% of electricity generated in Mexico has hydrocarbons as its source – and, thus, a reform on fossil fuels will be fundamental for the electric sector -, the operation traits of the national market, controlled by the Federal Electricity Commission, would require a revisión with the purpose of enhancing competition, creating cogeneration regimes and other options that favor efficiency and competitivity. What would be the key points in an eventual reform on the matter?
3-The “statutory fight” for PAN control: chapter 2. PAN is preparing to resume its 17th National Extraordinary Assembly on August 10th (almost half a year after interrupting it due to a lack of quorum on last March). On its first chapter, the PAN assembly will vote a reform on its statutes that, among other things, will give greater powers to the national leadership regarding the appointment of candidates and would modify the methods of electing both the members of the National Council as well as the party’s leadership. Those that oppose Gustavo Madero claim that he’s manipulating the statutory reform’s document, boosting a greater PAN centralization and leaving the door open for potential augmentation of electoral rolls by opening the members’ inner processes and not circumscribing them to representative bodies. Is PAN changing its “eternal struggle” for an “eternal quarrel”?
4-In a hurry to legalize marijuana? Over the last few weeks, several “neoactivists” that favor the legalization or regularization of cannabis consumption, selling and distribution, have filled media fórums in order to pursue an “open debate”. Ranging from the international forum held a couple of weeks ago in the Fox Center to the discussion tables made under the auspices of the Miguel Alemán Foundation where some former State Secretarys were part, these events have tried to bring the legalization issue to priority levels within the national agenda. Other voices, such as the moral leader of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), López Obrador, or the Oaxaca Governor, Gabino Cué, have voiced their opposition to the potential measure, claiming that it will not be a key factor in decreasing the drug-related violence. What is true is that none of these stances turn out to be fully convincing if their complex edges are revealed. Are the right questions being asked?
The contradictory mobility policy in Mexico City. On August 5th, newspaper Reforma published a note in which it exposed a full range of transportation and mobility projects that the Mexico City government is about to carry out within the coming months. Most of these plans have to do with arterial roads and the vast minority deal with public transportation systems. To begin with, at least two years of delirious traffic chaos await for the City. This colateral damage will be justified when drivers have better road traffic options (though some of them will have to be paid for), but the controversy regarding policies that not only enhance the use of private vehicles but also discourage the use of public transport given its lack of maintenance and subpar service quality. Is it profitable to keep on strangling the city’s roads without giving an integral solution to massive mobility, that is to say, not only with efficient criteria but with guarantees of environmental sustainability?

Antonio De la Cuesta

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