Mexico leads the way with PEMEX reforms in 2013
The big "happy story" of Latin America is Mexico, and its PEMEX reforms.
As Andres Oppenheimmer reports, "El pacto de Mexico" will not be easy because the left will do everything possible to make life miserable for the reformers. The good news is that the left in Mexico is loud but it does not win national elections.
Nevertheless, Mexico has demonstrated that reform can happen, especially when you have a leader who wants to lead.
This is a list of "reforms" in Mexico, again from the aforementioned Mr Oppenheimer via Fausta's Blog:
- Education reform: Mexico's political parties passed a law in September that will break the country's once almighty teachers unions' control over the education system and will allow for the first time the hiring, promotion and even firing of new teachers based on standardized tests and periodic evaluations. Until now, Mexico had thousands of teachers who couldn't be fired even if they failed to show up in class.
- Political reform: Mexico's Congress agreed to change electoral rules to allow future members of Congress to be re-elected and to reserve half of congressional seats for female candidates. Re-election of legislators had been a long-sought demand by citizens' groups, which complained that, without re-election, Mexican legislators were not accountable to their constituents, but rather to their parties' bosses.
- Fiscal reform: The Mexican Congress, with major backing from the left-of-center Party for the Democratic Revolution, passed a fiscal law that will raise taxes on the wealthiest and impose a new tax on soft drinks and stock market gains.
- Labor reform: In the biggest labor law shakeup in four decades, Mexico's Congress passed a law aimed at making it easier for employers to hire and fire workers. The new law's intent is to drive millions of people out of the underground economy.
- Telecommunications reform: Under the new law, two new regulating agencies will try to bring about more competition in the telecommunications industry, which has been dominated by companies owned by billionaire Carlos Slim.
- Energy reform: By far the most covered by foreign media, Mexico's new energy reform will change the Constitution to allow private firms to work with the giant state-owned Pemex oil company in the exploration and drilling of new fields. The constitutional overhaul is expected to bring billions of dollars in foreign investments over the next decade.
"Mexico has proved capable of doing the politically impossible," Mexican Congressman David Penchyna, who heads the congressional Energy Committee, wrote in the daily newspaper Reforma this week. "We have opened a new page in history."
My opinion: It is too early to tell whether Mexico's 2013 reforms will indeed turn the country into the new star of the emerging world. Much of it will depend on whether Peña Nieto is able to keep the new laws from being watered down by special interests in the implementation process.
But Mexico has given the Americas a lesson in civility, which many countries in the hemisphere would do well to emulate.
Wouldn't it be great to see a Pact for Argentina, a Pact for Venezuela and a Pact for the United States 2014?
It seemed impossible in Mexico, and yet it happened.
Again, the left will make life miserable with marches and lots of screaming. They will say that President Pena-Nieto has "sold out" to the foreigners at the expense of Mexican sovereignty.
Thankfully, most Mexicans, and specially the middle class, understand that PEMEX had to be reformed.
Thumbs up to President Pena-Nieto for leading the way.