Monthly Archives: February 2010

The PRI/Beltrones political reform package

The PRI submitted their own political reform package in February. This summary is taken from Senator Manlio Fabio Beltrones‘  exposition of the package in an op-ed in El Universal:

1. Give the Secretary of Government the authority to exercise Executive power, in the absence or incapacity of the President, until Congress acts to fill the vacancy.

2. Senate ratification for all cabinet officers, except the Secretaries of Army and Navy, as well as the heads of state agencies.

3. Eliminate proportional representation seats in the Senate, and reduce the size of the Chamber of Deputies to 400–300 direct election seats, and 100 proportional election seats.

4. Allow for the immediate re-election of federal and state legislators.  Senators eligible to be re-elected once (total 12 years), and Deputies twice (total nine years).

5. Call the ordinary commissions of Congress into session 30 days prior to the opening of the regular congressional session, to prepare draft legislation. Dock the pay of congressmen who miss commission meetings without a valid excuse.

6. Require the President to present his Informe in person to Congress, and establish procedures for comment and reply by the different parties and the Executive.

7. Require that unspent budget funds be returned for reallocation the following year, rather than be spent at the discretion of the executive.

8. Speed final review of public accounts, eliminate secret budgets, give new powers to the Superior Auditor of the Federation.

9. Establish referendums on issues of national importance.

10. Give autonomy to the Public Prosecutor’s Office (Ministerio Público).

11. Restrict constitutional immunity for public officials to official acts.

12. Give the human rights commission (CNDH) power to investigate grave violations of individual rights.

13. Implement methods for conciliation or arbitration between the states for boundary disputes.

14. Require that any suspension of rights and guarantees be ratified by Congress, and reviewed by the Supreme Court.

15. Create a National Identify Institute, to issue identity documents.

Photo Op: Unity Summit

Thought for the Day: Denise Dresser on Gómez Mont and PAN-PRI pactos

In today’s Reforma, in a column entitled Rotten Smell, political scientist Denise Dresser writes:

In recent days, Felipe Calderón has achieved something surprising: to appear simultaneously to be a liar, an incompetent, and a dishonorable man whose word cannot be trusted. A liar, if he knew that his Secretary of Government was negotiating with the PRI, even when his minions denied it. Incompetent, if he did not know and is nonetheless keeping Fernando Gómez Mont. … Dishonorable, if an agreement was reached with the PRI which was then broken. All three cases are bad. But that which has been lost sight of … is the most serious thing: the kind of agreement that the PRI proposed and that Fernando Gómez Mont accepted.

This is what really stinks and what keeps Mexico mired in permanent mediocrity. The PRI proposed backing the budget in exchange for the PAN not joining with the PRD in the coming elections. … The PRI accepted tax increases in exchange for leaving intact its [political] machine in Oaxaca, and the PAN accepted this deal. In other words, taxes in exchange for impunity. Taxes in exchange for bosses. …The PRI negotiated, in the dark, a perverse pact, and Gómez Mont singned on to it with the blessing of this chief.

Poll: Confidence in Army declines sharply

Mitofsky’s nationwide survey of confidence in institutions showed a decrease in confidence in the most admired institutions in Mexico. Those saying they had a “high” degree of confidence in the Army fell 6.6% to 34.4% from 41% in January 2009. In terms of overall ranking (which also takes into account other responses), the Army fell from first place to third.  Confidence in the IFE slipped 2.6%. According to Mitofsky, this reflects the belief that the IFE has become more politicized. Confidence in the Presidency also decreased. Political parties remain the least respected institutions in Mexico, with only 5.6% having a high degree of confidence in them. (www.consulta.com.mx)

Mexico hosts Rio Group summit; negotiations start on Brazil free trade agreement

The Latin America head of states “Unity Summit” starts today in Cancún, with President Calderón as host. The group is expected to announce the decision to go forward with a new regional organization that would include all Latin American and Caribbean countries, but exclude the U.S. and Canada. According to Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa Castellanos, “The idea to have a forum—for the region and from the region—came from a proposal of President Calderón. We sincerely believe that it will assist in promoting greater integration. … From outside, it will strengthen the voice of the subcontinent.” The scope and legal framework for the new organization will not be decided until June 2011.

The government is also taking advantage of the presence of President Lula to announce the start the negotiations of a Mexico-Brazil free trade agreement. Economy Secretary Gerardo Ruíz will be in charge of the Mexican negotiating team. (SRE 2/20, Universal 2/21)

… Calls for new security laws

At Army Day ceremonies, the President made an urgent call for Congress to approve a new National Security Law that will give the Army greater legal protections in the fight against drug traffickers: “We must act with respect for the law and human rights. … But we can hardly expect to ask the Army to defend society from perverse criminals without giving its soldiers the powers they need and legal certainty regarding the actions they take,” he said.  Defense Secretary Gen. Guillermo Galván said the reforms could not be postponed.

The Government also sent a new anti-kidnapping law to Congress that provides for life imprisonment, restricts prisoner communications with outsiders, and requires that kidnappers be imprisoned outside of their area of operation, among others provisions. (Reforma 2/18, Universal 2/20)

Mexic

President makes second trip to Juárez …

President Calderón made a second trip to Juárez, to kick start his new four-point security strategy. The President met with citizens and said that “We are here, barely at the beginning of what ought to be a new era for Ciudad Juárez, … marked by realism, seriousness, and meeting urgent needs.” Abelardo Escobar, the Secretary for Agrarian Reform, and the President’s representative in the coordination efforts, said that a timetable for work would be completed this week. (Universal 2/18, Universal 2/20)

Senate president predicts passage of political reform this session

Senate president Carlos Navarrete (PRD) predicted that the Senate will pass a political reform package during March, in order to send it to the Chamber of Deputies for its vote before the session ends on April 30th. Navarrete said that with the PRD-PT-Convergencia proposal (submitted last week) and the PRI proposal (expected this week), along with President Calderón’s proposal sent down in December there was plenty of material to begin preparing draft legislation.  The PRD political reform proposal consists of 12 major points, including congressional ratification of cabinet officers and recall elections for the President, governors, and mayors, that are in sharp contrast to the President’s proposed reform package (which most analysts believe would strengthen the executive). (Universal 2/20, PRD Senate 2/18)

Iztaccíhuatl freshly covered in snow

Courtesy of Reforma 2/19

President backs his Government Secretary in “complex and difficult situation”

President Felipe Calderón made his first public statements on Government Secretary Fernando Gómez Mont’s resignation from the PAN last week. In a TV interview, and later reinforced with an official press release, the President said, “He is a loyal man, a Government Secretary who fulfills his responsibilities …and who fully enjoys my confidence….He is an effective interlocutor with the different political actors, with the opposition, with the PAN itself.” Calderón also said in the interview, “Truly, this is a complex and difficult situation for me. I believe that this situation came about through a series of problems and misunderstandings that should not have occurred.”(Excelsior 2/17, Presidencia 2/16)