Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mexico's Supreme Court issues landmark rulings on limits of public referendums, rejecting call for repeal vote on PEMEX energy reforms

Former PRD national chair Jesús Zambrano, December 2013: "We're not going to just stand around with our arms crossed. We're going to keep working to throw out the energy reforms."

Guadalajara -
Mexico's highest appellate tribunal, the Supreme Judicial Court, today closed the door forever on continuing political efforts to undo dramatic energy reforms approved by the nation in December 2013.

More than four million citizens had signed petitions over the past 10 months demanding that the reforms, which took effect Aug. 12, be the subject of a special citizen plebiscite in June 2015. Mexico's National Electoral Institute gets 4 million signatures demanding referendum on PEMEX.

The measure was sponsored by Mexico's political Left and ultra Left. MORENA opens campaign to repeal PEMEX reforms. Judicial ministers began reviewing the case Oct. 20.

Such a plebiscite could have resulted in the nullification of historic hydrocarbon law amendments, which opened the former state energy monopoly PEMEX (Petróleos Mexicanos) to private capital investment and foreign technical assistance for the first time since it was created in March 1938.

The changes to PEMEX, more than any other legislative initiative during his two year administration, earned president Enrique Peña Nieto widespread praise as a pragmatic, forward looking reformer not afraid to meddle with national institutions once considered sacred. Foreign Policy names Peña Nieto a top Global Thinker.

A group of leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) senators lost a previous battle before the high court on Mar. 27, in which they also demanded a PEMEX reforms repeal vote next year. A majority of tribunal ministers voted against them, largely on procedural grounds, but left the door ajar to a further legal challenge. At the heart of the dispute were the procedures aggrieved citizens must follow when demanding a consulta popular, or national referendum, on important legislation, and whether there are constitutional limitations to such referendums. Mexican high court tosses leftist lawsuit challenging PEMEX reforms. Today the Court ruled there are.

A 9-1 majority found that Article 35 of Mexico's federal constitution implicitly prohibits a PEMEX referendum. That section states, among other things, that any matter which bears upon "the income and spending of the State shall not be subject to popular consultation." The judges ruled that the nation's petroleum industry, which historically has been used by every administration to cash flow a major share of the federal operating budget, directly touches upon and affects "State income."

Bolstering that argument, justice minister Olga Sánchez Cordero noted that another provision of the constitution (Article 27) recognizes that a primary purpose of Mexico's hydrocarbon industry is to "generate continuing income for the development of the nation."

Mexico has already begun entering into contract negotiations for the exploration and development of offshore oil and gas resources, most of them located in the deepest Gulf waters. 20 billion barrels of crude: PEMEX legislation reserves 83% of petroleum resources for the country. Mexico lacks the technical expertise and enormous capital reserves necessary to undertake such projects on its own, which will be carried out by foreign companies and their associates.

Today's SCJN ruling is the end of the legal line for the PEMEX referendum proponents, who have no further right of appeal.

Other topics expressly mentioned in Article 35 which may never be submitted to a popular vote are human rights guarantees in Mexico's constitution, national security issues and matters relating to the organization and functioning of the armed forces.

Same death sentence for minimum wage referendum
Applying the identical provisions of Article 35, a 6-4 majority of the judges yesterday dismissed a National Action Party (PAN) demand for a plebiscite on the Mexican minimum wage, which is but $5.00 USD per day. The ministers said that since the national minimum wage is one of numerous factors which enters into federal budgetary decisions, citizens have no right to directly vote on it.

"No to the biggest robbery of all time" - PRD and MORENA rally in Mexico City, Dec. 1, 2013

Aug. 30 - "It's too late to undo the PEMEX reforms"
May 6 - MORENA opens campaign to repeal PEMEX reforms
Dec. 12, 2013 - Exit Stage Left: PRD says "The Pact for Mexico is dead"
Sept. 19, 2013 - Mexico's Left determined to shackle the nation to the past

Key decisions of the Supreme Judicial Court reported by MGR:
May 29 - Mexican high court: DNA results are but one element in resolving question of legal paternity
Feb. 27 - Mexican high court awards punitive damages in Acapulco hotel electrocution case
Jan. 16 - Mexican judges: warrantless cell phone tracking is legal

Mexican Supreme Court rejects appeal of co-defendant in U.S. agent's 1985 murder case
Mexican Supreme Court overturns release of Guadalajara Cartel drug lord
Mexican Supreme Court establishes U.S. style property division rules in divorce cases
Mexican Supreme Court rejects HIV discrimination case
Mexican Supreme Court ruling expands abortion rights
Mexican Supreme Court orders Canadian Cynthia Vanier released, on narrow legal technicalities
Same sex marriage arrives at the U.S. Supreme Court - and at the Mexican Supreme Court
Mexican Supreme Court: anti-gay comments are hate speech, not free speech
Mexico's Supreme Court approves polygraph tests for federal prosecutors, with limitations
Mexico's Supreme Court orders Florence Cassez freed

Mexico's Supreme Court takes another step towards nationwide recognition of gay marriage
Mexican Supreme Court hands landmark legal victory to woman almost killed by her boyfriend
Mexican Supreme Court strips military courts of criminal jurisdiction in offenses against civilians
Mexico's high court rejects lie detectors, drug tests, psych profiles for political candidates
Mexico's highest court upholds right of same-sex couples to marry, but only in some states

Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court fails to strike down state anti-abortion laws

© 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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