January 19, 2015
Is President Enrique Peña Nieto Calling the Tune in Mexico?
Barnard R. Thompson
An opinion piece, a
rather uncharitable analysis, was published recently about the personae and realities of Mexican President Enrique Peña
Nieto, his administration, and those behind him. All this in the context of who may be some of the backroom
power brokers in Mexico, and what could be in store for the nation.
"Zedillo, el hombre tras el poder de Peña," which
(taking some liberties) translates as "Zedillo, the man behind Peña's throne," by Jesusa Cervantes, was
published on January 9, 2015 by APRO, the news agency of the Mexican news and opinion weekly Proceso.
A wave-making magazine that, more often than not, harshly criticizes the establishment, commonly called "the system"
Finance Minister, Luis Videgaray Caso, the piece begins: "… have no doubt, the government of President Enrique
Peña Nieto will stay on this path that has yielded fruit, and good fruit, for the Mexican economy for some 20 years."
"Earlier, he said
that there could be spending cuts if the economy continues to plummet. And Agustín Carstens, Governor
of the Bank of Mexico, warned of another possible blow to our economy: rising interest rates."
The writer next questionably criticized
Videgaray, his remarks and his claims. Plus, she said, he was not talking about economic policies that
began with Presidents Miguel de la Madrid or Carlos Salinas.
"Oh no! The country's finance man paints his stripe
and that of Peña Nieto: the economic model to follow is that of 20 years ago … subtly begun by [President] Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León.
"To Videgaray, 1995 and Zedillo's economic policy marked the turning point of this country.
It is the before and after that 'has paid off.'
"Who has received the fruits? Not Mexicans,
[but] yes to a political group that today centers around Ernesto Zedillo….
"Zedillo Ponce de León today seems to be
the man behind the power. During his six year administration [1994-2000], he had a man as energy minister
who, with time, would become key in order to maintain the threads of economic, and therefore political, power: Luis Téllez."
Luis Téllez Kuenzler
, who holds a Doctorate in Economics from MIT, headed President Zedillo's Office of the Presidency until 1997, when
he was named Secretary of Energy [97-2000]. Six years later, during the administration of President Felipe
Calderón [2006-2012], Téllez, a member of the opposition PRI, was Secretary of Communications and Transportation
until March of 2009, when he was named chairman of the Mexican Stock Exchange (BMV). He left that position
as of December 30, 2014.
Cervantes went on to say that, when Videgaray was named Secretary of Finance, he was at first seen as favoring policies
of Carlos Salinas [1988-1994], an expectation that was soon dismissed. One of the reasons, she notes –
among his listened to advisors was Luis Téllez.
Cervantes: "Thanks to the energy reform Videgaray has become a kind of 'viceroy,'
as he will decide how, with whom, and how much contracts will be with foreign oil companies. This has led
to the creation of the [Mexican] Petroleum Fund, (where) the carloads of expected money due to the reform will come, and it
will be this fund that decides how its considerable resources will be used.
"And Luis Téllez now heads that powerful
fund, the man who, like Zedillo, rubs shoulders with financial and corporate royalty worldwide."
With respect to global factors,
the piece highlights San Diego, California based Sempra Energy insofar as Téllez has been a member of its Board of
Directors since 2010.
Furthermore, "Sempra Energy … has a subsidiary in Mexico named IENOVA, and curiously the chairman of
that board is Carlos Ruiz Sacristan, the former head of the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation during Zedillo's
administration," Cervantes notes.
"And if you have any doubt about the political and financial frameworks created by
Zedillo, here is another fact: Carlos Ruiz Sacristan is a member of other important boards of directors, such as Southern
Copper Corp, a mining company that is part of the large Grupo México conglomerate (the same that polluted rivers in
Sonora last year, and brought local small and medium entrepreneurs to bankruptcy), and it has among its affiliates the Ferromex
and Ferrosur railways, the same that after Zedillo's reforms went into private hands.*"
Cervantes notes that Carlos Ruiz
Sacristan is associated with Administradora Mexiquense del Aeropuerto Internacional de Toluca, the company awarded the management
concession for the Toluca Airport from 2005 to 2055. And she suggestively adds that 2005 was the same year
that Peña Nieto was inaugurated as governor of the State of Mexico (Toluca is the state capital).
Furthermore, Cervantes writes that
Carlos Ruiz Sacristan served on the board of OHL-México with Emilio Lozoya, the current CEO of Pemex. And
she says, "It would than seem that it was the hand of Zedillo who placed Lozoya in the parastatal, through the intervention
of the former SCT secretary."
* MexiData note: In the early years of the Zedillo administration, well connected
insiders said that once he left office the President would be rewarded with Mexican railways (possibly comments based on foreknowledge
of the 1997-99 privatizations of the same). As well, after leaving office Zedillo served on the board of
Union Pacific Corporation, from 2001 to 2006.
el hombre tras el poder de Peña," by Jesusa Cervantes, APRO/Proceso, Jan. 9, 2015, Mexico, D.F. The excerpted translations in this piece have been edited.
Barnard Thompson, editor
of MexiData.info, has spent more than 50 years in Mexico and Latin America providing multinational clients with in-depth information
as well as actionable intelligence; country and political risk reporting and analysis; plus professional, lobbying and problem