Monthly Archives: November 2009

President reaffirms reform agenda

Speaking to an invited audience at the National Palace, President Felipe Calderón reaffirmed his 10-point ‘Agenda for Change,’ as he marked the start of the second half of his government. His most extensive remarks were devoted to the need to strengthen public finances. He said that despite addressing the immediate shortfalls in the 2010 budget, “the truth is that we are very far away from a solution to the structural problems that confront the Mexican State.” He called again for a broad debate on fiscal reform and a second round of energy sector reforms. He also repeated his call for a political reform “to generate the conditions that will enable us to overcome the institutional paralysis that has blocked the country from reaching agreements on fundamental issues.” (Presidencia 11/28, Universal 11/29)

Juanito tries to come back as Iztapalapa borough president

Rafael Acosta, aka Juanito, declared he would take over as borough president of Iztapalapa in Mexico City, after a 59-day leave of absence, reviving an intense embarrassment for the PRD. Juanito and his supporters seized the borough offices and camped out overnight. Clara Brugada, the acting borough chief, said Acosta was “mentally ill.” The Federal District Government Secretary José Ángel Ávila Pérez promised a rapid solution “to guarantee the governability of the borough and the delivery of services.”   A two-thirds vote by the DF’s legislative assembly could remove Juanito. (Reforma 11/28, Universal 11/30)

Supreme Court declares SCT regulations for granting radio and TV concessions unconstitutional

The Supreme Court, by a vote of 8-2, declared that the SCT regulations issued in January 2009 by President Calderón were unconstitutional. These regulations gave the Secretary of Communications and Transportation the exclusive power to award, extend, or revoke radio and TV concessions. The Court found that this power belonged to Cofetel, the telecommunications regulator, and could not be assigned to the Secretary (though Cofetel is part of the SCT). Columnist Miguel Ángel Granados Chapa wrote: “This counterfeit introduces yet another conflictive element in the topsy-turvy panorama of radio and TV, where the competitors are constantly litigating to avoid the application of norms that are disadvantageous to them.” (Universal 11/23, Reforma 11/28)

Congress fails to back legal challenge to closing Luz y Fuerza

Efforts by the PRD and PT in Congress to challenge the liquidation of Luz y Fuerza on constitutional grounds fell well short. Only 132 Deputies of the required 250 signed the resolution, as the PRI stood aside. If the resolution had passed, it would have obliged the Supreme Court to review the liquidation decree. After the motion failed, Labor Secretary Javier Lozano promptly reopened the centers for former employees to sign up for the buyout payments. The second round of buyouts will provide only 70% of the amount that was available in the first round, and will be available until December 23. (Universal 11/25, 11/26)

Study: Murder rates in perspective

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Homicide rates over time

The CIDAC think tank published an analysis of Mexico’s crime statistics. Much of the analysis centers on the homicide rate—the crime least likely to be underreported. For 2008, the national homicide rate was 10.6 per 100,000 persons. Of the total, organized crime related killings had a rate of 4.9, and all other homicides a rate of 5.7. The total rate is one-third below the 1997 peak.  Chihuahua had the highest murder rate (47.1), followed by Sinaloa (29.5). Fourteen of the 32 states had homicide rates lower than the U.S. average of 5.6. While Mexico’s overall rate is double the U.S. rate, it is substantially below the levels in Brazil (25.3), Colombia (37.3), and Venezuela (48.0). (consulta.com.mx)

 

 

 

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Cross country comparison

AMLO starts prepping for 2012

Andrés Manuel López Obrador celebrated three years as the country’s “legitimate president” with a rally in Mexico City’s Zocalo a week prior to President Calderón’s commemoration. AMLO was prominently accompanied by Martín Esparza, the defrocked head of the Luz y Fuerza electrical workers union. AMLO said he had completed his pilgrimage to all 2,430 municipalities across Mexico and was refounding his movement. “Thinking of the transformation of the country, and looking toward 2012, we need to develop a new Alternative Project for the Nation,” he said. AMLO said the platform would be centered on 10 themes: “to rescue the State and put it at the service of the people; democratize the mass media; create a new economy; combat monopolies; abolish tax breaks; practice politics as an ethical imperative grounded in ‘republican austerity;’ strengthen the energy sector; achieve food sovereignty; establish a welfare State; and promote a new current of thought.” AMLO clearly believes his principal opponent in 2012 will be Mexico state governor Enrique Peña Nieto. (Excelsior 11/23)

Carstens responds to critique of economic policy

Finance Minister Agustín Carstens responded vigorously to the comments made earlier in the week by Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.  Speaking at a conference in Mexico, Stiglitz said that Mexico’s response to the global financial crisis had been “unusual” with a “relatively weak” fiscal stimulus in contrast to the actions of many other countries. He added that Mexico needed to diversify its exports, and that relying on economic recovery in the U.S. was unlikely to result in a strong recovery since the world’s growth is concentrated in Asia.  Stiglitz also said the government need to invest not only in infrastructure but also in technology, education, and programs for improving economic opportunity. Carstens responded by noting that the government had to respond to the twin crises that hit Mexico­–the global recession and the 800,000 b/d decline in oil production. “We did not have the option of contracting more debt. One has to act responsibly, and this is what President Calderón decided and did,” Carstens said. Economy Secretary Ernesto Cordero said that Stiglitz “needed to read a bit more on Mexico” before making comments. The Templo Mayor column observed: “Wow. Looks like the Minister of Finance has decided to celebrate the anniversary of the Revolution by shooting at Nobel Prize winners.” (Universal 11/19, 11/20, Reforma 11/20)

Nuevo León police chiefs arrested in sweep

The former police chiefs of Monterrey and the suburb of Guadalupe were arrested during sweeps by the Army and the Federal Investigations Agency (AFI). The authorities also carried out searches of the police headquarters of the nearby suburbs of Escobedo, Apodaca, and Juárez. The Army continues to be in charge of police functions in the suburb of García, where the police chief (a retired Army general) was assassinated at the beginning of the month. According to García’s mayor, 22 cops have been arrested, and another 20 resigned. Of the remaining 108 cops, 30-35 are still under investigation. (Reforma 11/18, 11/16)

Chamber approves 2010 expenditure law

The full Chamber of Deputies voted 425 to 25, with 4 abstentions to pass the 2010 expenditure law. The PRI, PAN, PVEM, PANAL, and Convergencia all voted unanimously in favor. The PRD voted 45-18 to support the budget, while the PT voted 4-7 against. The vote took place in the early morning hours of the 17th, with the clocked stopped, since the legal deadline for passing the budget was the 15th. (diputados.gob.mx)

Expenditure budget passes

The budget commission of the Chamber of Deputies unanimously passed the 2010 expenditure budget at 4:30 am, after failing to meet the midnight legal deadline. PRI coordinator Francisco Rojas postponed four times the meeting of the full Chamber of Deputies, as factions within the party negotiated the reallocation of funds between the states and to different programs. The full Chamber is expected to vote on the package today. The final compromise was reflected in a basket of Ps. 96.6 billion of resources to be reallocated, an increase from the original proposal of Ps. 85 billion. Total expenditures were pegged at Ps. 3,176 billion – only marginally higher than the proposed budget sent by the Government.  One of the items that emerged from the congressional negotiations was the requirement that the Ministry of Finance present to congress an austerity plan by March 15 for longer-term improvements in the use of public resources. PRI deputy Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada explained, “We can’t ask the citizen to tighten his belt and not demand that the … executive, judicial, and legislative authorities do the same.”

The Templo Mayor column observed: “Almost everyone is content with the slicing up of the budget pie. The priistas are congratulating themselves because they … tied the hands of the federal government and got millions and millions as a gift for their governors. The panistas are also jubiliant; despite the dark warnings, at they end of the day they salvaged the resources for the three [social] programs dear to Felipe Calderón: the leafless Proarból, the coveted Oportunidades, and the supercharged Seguro Popular. (Excelsior 11/16, Universal 11/16, Reforma 11/16)