Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mexican high court tosses leftist lawsuit challenging PEMEX reforms

Guadalajara -
The full chamber of Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court this afternoon rejected a lawsuit filed by senators of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) last December, which sought to block legal reforms opening PEMEX, the national oil company, to private capital investment and foreign technical participation.

The 11 member court voted 8-3 to deny a petition filed by three PRD senators, who contended the internal structure of PEMEX could be modified only if a citizen plebiscite had so authorized. The court began debate on the case Tuesday and finished today.

PEMEX (Petróleos Mexicanos) was created in 1938, after Mexican president Lázaro Cárdenas del Río (in office 1934-1940) nationalized Mexico's entire petroleum industry and expropriated all assets of foreign oil companies in the country. Laws specified that PEMEX was to be operated as a strict state monopoly.

In December both houses of Mexico's federal Congress voted overwhelmingly to amend three articles of the country's constitution so private business interests and foreign enterprises could participate in oil and gas exploration and development. The measure sailed through Mexico's state legislatures, and was signed into law by president Enrique Peña Nieto on Dec. 20.

Last week Peña Nieto called the PEMEX reforms the "most important change in Mexico in the last half century," which will "transform the country's energy sector for the benefit of the entire nation." On 76th anniversary of Mexican oil expropriation, EPN says "State remains the sole owner of energy."

Today's decision rejecting the lawsuit was largely procedural in nature. In 2013 Mexico's Congress amended the federal constitution to allow for a citizen "consulting vote" on issues of substantial public importance. But it didn't get around to enacting implementing legislation - specifying the requirements and procedures for doing so - until earlier this month. In a technical ruling which may embarrass the Congress, the chief judge of the Supreme Court and a majority of its members today found that since the plebiscite provision had not yet been implemented by the enactment of secondary legislation, the senators had no legal basis to demand a citizen vote when they appealed to the court late last year.

The PRD senators launched their action in the Supreme Court in early Dec. 2013, just days before the PEMEX reforms were approved by Mexico's Senate and House of Deputies. The senators filed the case in their individual capacities, and not as representatives of PRD. Although the judicial ministers left the legal door ajar by suggesting the senators might still be able to demand a PEMEX "popular consultation" - and if refused return to court - some in the majority said it was far too late. They noted the energy reforms were themselves constitutional in nature, and not subject to a citizen referendum.

Oct. 30, 2014 - Mexican Supreme Court rejects PEMEX reforms repeal referendum

Dec. 12 - Exit Stage Left: PRD says "The Pact for Mexico is dead"
Nov. 30 - As energy reform vote approaches, PRD exits Pact for Mexico
Oct. 7 - López Obrador calls for campaign of protest and civil disobedience over PEMEX reforms
Sept. 19 - Mexico's Left determined to shackle the nation to the past

"Say no to the PRIvatization of PEMEX" - Mexico City, Dec. 1, 2013

© MGR 2014. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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