PRI blocks calls for investigation of killings of women in Mexico State during Peña Nieto government

A report released by the Mexico State Justice Ministry on the 922 killings of women that took place between January 2005 and August 2010 essentially blamed the victims.  The report attributed the killings to: “Risks that some women place themselves in: consuming drugs, alcohol, or inhalants; working in bars where they mix with clients; going out alone at late hours; … becoming romantically involved with partners whom they don’t know well; being involved with multiple partners at the same time; belonging to youth gangs; belonging to criminal gangs or having relationships with gang members.”

The state PRI blocked calls for an investigation into the killings, which was condemned by both federal Secretary of Government Fernando Blake and the PRD. PRD Senator Claudia Corichi said, “Would undertaking investigations to unmask the assassins be such a dent in the armor of [Governor] Peña Nieto? What a shame that [the PRI] hides behind the argument that this is a politicized issue.” (Reforma 1/13)

Government data shows 15,000 organized crime-related homicides in 2010

The government released for the first time comprehensive data (Mexico Segob homicide database) on killings related to organized crime. Ministry of Government spokesman Alejandro Poiré said the disclosure was “an exercise of transparency without precedent in Mexico, and with few precedents in the world.” The database includes killings month by month from December 2006 (when Felipe Calderón took office) through December 2010 for more than 1,100 municipalities across the country.

Some highlights from the government data:

  • Overall killings spiked to more than 15,000 in 2010, an increase of 59% from 2009. The government’s figures are significantly higher than those compiled (and published weekly) by the major newspapers. Reforma for example, recorded 11,583
  • On a quarterly basis, the peak was 2Q and 3Q 2010.  The rate of killings was down 10% in 4Q10, though the government was unwilling to say this was the beginning of a trend.
  • Since December 2006, 70% of the killings have been concentrated in just 85 municipalities, concentrated along the U.S. border and the Pacific coast.

Poiré’s presentation is here: SEGOB Presentation on Organized Crime Killings, Jan 11

Calderón reshuffles cabinet with an eye to 2012 campaign

On Saturday, President Felipe Calderón announced a cabinet reshuffle, with an eye to the 2012 election. Juan Molinar Horcasitas, one of Calderón’s closest political advisers, resigned as Secretary of Communications and Transportation in order “to participate intensively in political-party work that is important for the life of the country” according to the President’s statement. He is being replaced by Dionisio Pérez-Jácome, who has been Undersecretary of Finance for Expenditures and who also briefly served as presidential chief of staff.

Molinar’s record as head of SCT was not stellar. The ministry continued to be bedeviled by technical problems in executing the government’s ambitious transportation infrastructure program. And little headway was made in the area of telecommunications policy, where the award of a large bloc of wireless spectrum to a Nextel-Televisa consortium was drowned in a sea of lawsuits and the withdrawal of Televisa.

The President also named congressman Roberto Gil Zuarth as his new private secretary, replacing Luis Felipe Bravo Mena.  Gil Zuarth had been widely seen as the President’s preferred candidate to take over the PAN in the party’s recent election of a new leader (an election won by Senator Gustavo Madero).  Bravo Mena is returning to the private sector.

As noted by El Universal’s Bajo Reserva column:  “Inside and outside his party, the PAN, the reading [of the changes] was the same: it is a signal that Calderón is not packing his bags and ready to give up power, perhaps to a political adversary. [The appointments] announced yesterday were a demonstration that he will give battle to everyone, including those within his own party.”

Georgina Kessel moves from Secretary of Energy to the President of Banobras, the development bank. She replaces Alonso García Tamés, who returns to the private sector.

José Antonio Meade, Undersecretary of Finance, becomes the new Secretary of Energy. Meade becomes the last of the senior level technocratic ‘old guard’ of the Ministry of Finance to leave, a process that started with the appointment of Ernesto Cordero as Finance Secretary in December 2009.

(Presidencia 1/8)

Chamber of Deputies Ready to Approve Expenditure Law

On today’s legal deadline, the Chamber of Deputies appears set to approve the expenditure law for 2011.  The Finance Commission unanimously approved the expenditure proposal at 2am. The President’s request for increases for the security agencies, including the funds to create the unified police forces, were approved. The principal cause of delay in approving the expenditure package had been negotiations to allocate funds for highway construction between the different states. (Excelsior 11/15)

Long-delayed ‘incentivated contracts’ go to Pemex board

More than two years after the passage of the energy reform, one of its critical elements — the so-called incentivated or integrated service contracts for oil exploration by private sector contractors– appears almost ready. The Pemex board agreed yesterday to hold a special board meeting on the 16th to consider and give final approval to the new contractual mechanism. These contracts are viewed by the Government as critical for enlisting the support of third-party contractors for exploration and development of oil and gas fields, while respecting the constitutional prohibitions on risk contracts and production sharing agreements.  The incentivated contracts provide for two kinds of payments: one based on reimbursement of costs and the second based on the amount of petroleum discovered. This latter provision is being challenged as unconstitutional by the Chamber of Deputies and the matter is with the Supreme Court.

If the board endorses the contracts, the official in charge of the new contracts Sergio Guaso said Pemex expects to start awarding contracts based on the new mechanism in 3Q11.

Pemex plans to hold four bidding rounds using the new contracts.  The first will be to reactivate the mature Magallanes, Carrizo and Santuario fields in the southern region; the second for mature fields in the north; the third in the Chicontepec region; and finally, in the deep waters of the Gulf.

(Excelsior 11/11, Pemex 11/10)

Pemex acknowledges production losses from security situation

In an interview, Carlos Morales Gil, the head of production and exploration for Pemex, acknowledged that the state oil company has had to shut in gas production of 150,000 cubic feet/day in the Burgos basin south of the Texas border because of the inability to ensure the security of some of the gas wells. (At US$3.50 per cu.ft., the lost production is the equivalent of US$525,000 per day.) Morales said there had been no news of the six Pemex employees who were kidnapped on May 23d.  “We’ve increased security, together with the Ministry of Defense, in the installations in the northeastern zone of the country, which has allowed us to partially recover the production that was reduced. However, there are zones where it is not safe to go, because of the crime threats to our people,” he said. (Reforma 11/10)

Calderón vetoes corporate law change

In a rare use of his veto power, President Felipe Calderón vetoed a change in corporate law that would have allowed for single shareholder corporate entitities. The President vetoed the measure not because he opposed the substance, but because the legislation that emerged from Congress created a new category of entity, with special rules, rather than just eliminating the requirement for more than one shareholder.  “The Federal Executive power under my command has stated that it is in favor of a minimal regulation that gives agility to the mechanisms for setting up and operating companies; the legislation does not do this,” he said in his veto statement. The measure was originally submitted to Congress in March 2008 by the PAN and PRI and was quickly passed by the Senate, but has languished and been modified in the Chamber of Deputies. Congress can change the draft law based on the President’s observations, let the veto stand, or try to override the veto with a two-thirds majority. (Reforma 11/9)