The World Cup v. Mexico’s Energy Reform, 1:0


As previously mentioned, I arrived in Distrito Federal roughly nine months ago in search of an understanding of the newly evolving Judiciary. It was not until the past few days, however, that I got the opportunity to observe a different side of the Mexican Government, its Legislature. With it, have come a few surprises.

This past week saw the beginning of discussions on energy reform initiatives for secondary laws presented by President Enrique Peña Nieto in April 2014. The Mexican Senate designated the job of discussing initiatives affecting 21 secondary laws to the Joint-Commissions on Energy and Legislative Studies. The objective of discussing these laws, some new and some amended, is to provide procedural regulations through which the implementation of the constitutional reform on energy may take place. Up to this point, the phrase “energy reform” might sound like a good thing. For those who might watch mainstream Spanish channels, they might be convinced of this. Unfortunately, this is far from reality. The novelty of President Pena Nieto’s reform is that it breaks the stand taken by President Lazaro Cardenas seventy-six years ago to nationalize Mexico’s oil industry. The reform effectively opens Mexico up to foreign investment, accompanied by exploitation of its land and natural resources, including its increasingly scarce fresh water supply. The biggest threat is what has been termed as “fracking”, a method of extracting natural gas from shale reserves deep in the earth’s subsoil. Invented by U.S. oil and gas giant Halliburton, fracking has spread throughout fifteen U.S. states with numerous “fraccidents” reported, and many vigilant states fighting to keep it out of their towns and away from their water sources.

I have taken the time to watch the Joint-Commissions, and observe, for the first time in my life, how the Mexican Legislature handles itself. I was also interested in watching the country’s primary parties, PRI (center), PAN (right wing), and PRD (left wing), along with others, discuss one of the most important reforms in Mexico’s history. I would never have anticipated what I’d see next.

The discussions began June 10 and quickly it was obvious that there was strife between the parties. On the one hand were PRI and PAN Senators. Holding the majority of votes, they sat smug, calm and collected, not to mention often distracted by their cell phones. I quickly felt put-off by their demeanor and condescending address of the issues. While their PRD counterparts, with the minority of votes, displayed themselves aggressive, wide-eyed and often highly offended. I’d never heard politicians speak so blatantly about the other party, and much less about the laws being discussed. It was an all-out soap-opera drama, live and on-air, and I mean that in a good way. The PRD Senators blamed the PRI and PAN for working together to approve initiatives that open Mexico up to a world of exploitation, to the detriment of the very people they’re suppose to represent.  I was very surprised. I am not one who is very fond of politicians in general, but the PRD members’ candor, their well grounded oppositions, and most importantly their passion for the people they stand to represent, was moving.

In the last few days it has become obvious that PAN and PRI have little, if anything to change, much less discuss with regards to the initiatives proposed by the Executive. The reason for this and the PRD’s reactions became clear in media interviews, where a PAN Senator blatantly admitted PAN and PRI had already reached an 95% agreement on the initiatives, with the Executive, and without the opinion of PRD members. All before even having completed discussions on the first of four debates on the initiatives. In other words, the debate is not a debate. With the majority of votes held by PRI and PAN, they will continue to sit back and carry on with the discussions, but only for procedure’s sake. While PRD members can only carry out their arguments in hope that the Mexican people are watching and listening. Unfortunately, PRD lost the battle to have the discussions held after the World Cup. So chances are the majority of the country will be watching the scoreboard, with few listening to the warnings given by PRD about the dangers that loom with the energy reform. I can’t help but feel extremely disillusioned and disheartened by the discussions in the Joint-Commissions.

Though I am well aware of the corruption issues plaguing this country, the discussions display a level of disregard for the future of the country that leaves me truly astounded. If Mexico’s politicians are so readily available to sell out their country’s oil reserves for economic incentives, how can they be expected to protect the public’s right to it’s most fundamental resource – water?



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