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Column 123013 Wall

Monday, December 30, 2013

Mexico 2013: End of the Year Reflections and the Year to Come

By Allan Wall

It's been a busy year in Mexico, with all the reforms passed by the Peña Nieto administration and the Mexican Congress.  The end of calendar year 2013 is a time of reflection on the past year and the year that is about to begin.


I'm currently visiting Mexico.  Since moving to the United States five years ago, we've visited my wife's family each Christmastime.  It's a good time to visit.  And, it's been a cold season in Mexico, with more snow than usual in some regions.  (In some parts of Mexico it never snows, in other parts it snows each winter, and in others it rarely snows.)


The Christmas season in Mexico is a joyous one, and loved by the people.  We attended the Christmas Eve dinner of my wife's family, and the main course was ham. 


Regarding the recent energy reforms passed by the Mexican Congress, these reforms have yet to take shape.  After all, the revolutionary energy reforms which were passed were changes to the Mexican Constitution to allow private investment.  Yet to be passed is the actual secondary legislation, which spells out how investments are to be managed.


The Mexican federal government is already advertising the reforms and promising that energy costs are going to go down for the average citizen.  That may or may not be true, and yet, it's really going out on a limb to make such a promise.  After all, other factors are involved. 


There is still opposition to the energy reform, principally among the leftist parties. The PRD is pushing for a national referendum on energy reform, despite the fact that   Mexico has never held a national referendum on anything, and there is no structure in place by which to carry one out.  


Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, also known as AMLO, who has thankfully recovered from a heart attack, is also opposing the energy reform, but no longer as part of the PRD.  AMLO has founded a new political party, MORENA.  (Does Mexico need yet another left-wing political party?  From a leftist perspective, wouldn't it make more sense to put them all together into one party?  Then again, maybe AMLO's ego does require his own party.)


The controversy over energy reform has also provided some much-needed media oxygen for an almost-forgotten Mexican figure -- Subcomandante Marcos, an eloquent Euro-Mexican who made himself a spokesman for the Chiapas Indians and the so-called Zapatista Uprising.  Marcos hasn't been in the news much, but the energy reform has provided him with the opportunity to get back into the news by opposing said reform.


If the energy reform stays on track, and the secondary legislation is put into place, the next step is to start dealing with private oil companies.  That should be interesting.  It should be pointed out, however, that Mexican oil has not been privatized and is still under the control of the Mexican government.  It's just that private companies are to be allowed profit-sharing arrangements in extracting the oil.


As for the fiscal (tax) reform, that's set to take effect in January.  Certainly, Mexico's tax system does need reform, but it's far from clear that this reform is what's going to fix it.  In fact, the reform passed this year is really a hodge-podge which attracted a lot of attention by increasing taxes on soft drinks and dog food.  Admittedly, tax policy is a tough policy to navigate in any country because it affects different sectors of the economy in different ways.   


The security situation in Mexico is a major issue, and certainly one I consider when taking my family to visit the country.  So far, we've been safe.  Hopefully, that situation will improve in 2014.


Happy New Year to all readers.



Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at

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