16 state legislatures give the green light to constitutional amendments; PRD will pursue legal fight
The Hidalgo state assembly held a midnight session Friday to approve the changes
*Updated content: PEMEX state ratification is only one short of the constitutional requirement*
As of Sunday evening, 16 of the Mexican Republic's 31 states and one Federal District have ratified oil reforms which will open Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) to private capital and foreign participation. Because the changes amend Mexico's federal constitution, 17 local jurisdictions must approve them. Mexican states rush to endorse PEMEX reforms. Proponents of the new laws, which easily passed the Senate and the House of Deputies by heavy centrist party majorities last week, now lack but one state's vote.
The Jalisco state legislature met Saturday morning and ratified the PEMEX reforms by a vote of 24-10. Several hundred demonstrators who laid siege to the assembly's meeting place managed to disrupt the special session, breaking windows and causing property damage. Police eventually dispersed them with tear gas, and some protesters were arrested. Many carried signs calling the PEMEX legislation a "sellout of the homeland."
On the Yucatán peninsula, Campeche and Quintana Roo legislators approved the constitutional amendments yesterday, and the Yucatán state assembly did so today in an extraordinary Sunday session, by a vote of 23-2. Mérida's main daily, Diario de Yucatán, reported the legislative hall was under heavy security.
This afternoon the state legislatures of Tamaulipas and Puebla (31-2) ratified the reforms.
In each instance the yeas were cast by deputies of the National Action Party (PAN) and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The nays were all cast by Mexico's major leftist parties.
Sixteen state legislatures have not yet taken up the reform package, but will presumably do so early this week. No state in the Republic has rejected the proposed amendments. President Enrique Peña Nieto will sign the new laws when the final state ratifies them, which likely will be tomorrow. Mexico could begin entering into exploration and extraction contracts with foreign oil companies within days or weeks, a move which the Wall Street Journal said last week will "open great opportunities and enormously benefit Mexico." The nation has an estimated 30 billion barrels of oil and 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas which are yet to be developed.
A Mexican columnist quoting a U.S. news source wrote today, "Energy reforms and the exploitation of new gas and oil fields will make Mexico the fifth largest producer of hydrocarbons over the next 10 years, igniting its (gross domestic product) growth and making the country the second largest Latin American economy." Mexican GDP has been in severe contraction since mid-year, compared to its excellent performance in 2012.
The speed by which the PEMEX reforms have been ratified by Mexico's politically independent states has surprised even the most optimistic. American constitutional amendments frequently take years to be debated and approved or rejected by state legislatures. The proposed Equal Rights Amendment, for example, which would have guaranteed equal rights for women under the U.S. constitution, passed both houses of Congress in 1972. But it did not become law because a full decade later, by the June 30, 1982 ratification deadline, less than three-fourths of the states (38) had approved it. The ERA has never been reintroduced in Congress. In Mexico ratification is required only by a simple majority.
In other PEMEX reform news, the national chair of the left wing Democratic Revolution Party said yesterday that PRD will continue its legal challenge to the constitutional reforms before Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court. The party filed suit Dec. 10, maintaining that a national plebiscite must be held to authorize changes in the internal structure of Petróleos Mexicanos. Mexican leftists go to court to stop PEMEX reforms. There is little chance the 11 high court ministers will interfere in the matter, however.
PRD says it will try to repeal the PEMEX reforms via a special invalidation vote in July 2015.
Dec. 16 - San Luis Potosí puts PEMEX reforms over the top
Dec. 12 - Exit Stage Left: PRD says "The Pact for Mexico is dead"
PRD national chair Jesús Zambrano: "We're not going to just stand around with our arms crossed. We're going to keep working to throw out the energy reforms"
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