Mexico's energy reform controversy is far from over
The lower chamber of Mexico's federal Congress, the House of Deputies, has delivered to the National Electoral Institute (INE) 2,360,000 signatures from citizens across the nation demanding that sweeping energy reforms which became law on Aug. 12 be submitted to a public yeah or nay vote in 2015.
Those reforms opened 76 year old Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), the former state oil monopoly, to private investment and foreign technical participation for the first time in its history.
The effort to repeal the PEMEX reforms is being stage managed by the left wing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) and by the ultra-left National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), a new political party formed in 2012 by former two time presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador. MORENA opens campaign to repeal PEMEX reforms.
Last December PRD and MORENA delivered to the House of Deputies 1,700,000 signatures, bringing this week's total to over four million. All the signatures must be submitted to the INE by Sept. 15 under Mexico's new Popular Consultation Law (PCL), which is the basis for the pending challenge to the PEMEX reforms. But the validity of the earlier signatures has been challenged, since the PCL was not yet in force.
Whether the applicants can overcome significant legal hurdles in their path remains highly doubtful. On Mar. 27 Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court rejected a leftist lawsuit which challenged the reforms on the basis that they had not been submitted to a nationwide citizen referendum. Some of the judges noted that the reforms were constitutional amendments approved overwhelmingly by the Senate and House of Deputies and then ratified by Mexico's 32 separate jurisdictions, thus vitiating the need for a public vote. Mexican high court tosses leftist lawsuit challenging PEMEX reforms.
PRD officials have acknowledged that the referendum issue ultimately will be decided by the Supreme Court, and not by the political process. Last weekend one of the most respected voices of PRD, former Federal District Governor Marcel Ebrard, broke with his own party when he said, "It's too late to undo the PEMEX reforms." PRD will elect a new national chairperson on Sept. 7, and Ebrard is a leading candidate for the post. He is also likely to seek the presidency as PRD's nominee in 2018, setting up a showdown with MORENA's López Obrador, who plans to make an unprecedented third bid for the nation's highest office. Mexico already looking ahead to 2018 presidential election.
The PEMEX reforms are the single most critical legislative accomplishment of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) administration, which took office on Dec. 1, 2012 after a 12 year political hiatus. Last March president Enrique Peña Nieto called the 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." Both the 47 year old president and his party, which governed the nation for most of the 20th century, have gambled everything on their success.
Dec. 12, 2013 - Exit Stage Left: PRD says "The Pact for Mexico is dead"
Dec. 10, 2013 - Mexican leftists go to court to stop PEMEX reforms
Mexico's leftist parties insist the PEMEX reforms violate the nation's sovereignty over its huge energy resources. That those resources are largely unextractable without private capital and foreign technical assistance seems not to concern them.
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