JULY 21-27, 2008

JULY 21-27, 2008

1. BATTLE OVER PEMEX REFORM HEATS UP
2. “GENTE NUEVA” CONTINUE PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN


1. BATTLE OVER PEMEX REFORM HEATS UP
Senator Manlio Beltrones, likely PRI presidential candidate in 2012, presented an alternative to President Calderon’s energy reform bill on Wednesday.  The PRI bill, which differs only slightly from the PAN’s efforts to privatize Pemex, would allow private investment, including foreign companies, in exploration, extraction, refineries and transport of petroleum products.  The initiative enjoyed the support of all PRI Senators and 90 of 108 PRI Deputies.  The proposal would pay private companies directly rather than offering a percentage of production, though cash payments would be linked to production levels, which in essence is the same system proposed by the PAN.  The PRI would utilize long term multiple service contracts, a questionable method of backdoor privatization that has been in existence for over a decade.  Many legal experts and opposition figures claim multiple service contracts are a violation of the constitution which defines the entire energy sector as a state-controlled monopoly.

Meanwhile on Sunday, the Broad Progressive Front (FAP) organized a citizen consultation in nine states and the Federal District that included two questions concerning the privatization of Pemex.  More than a million Mexicans are expected to participate.  The PRI announcement only four days before the consultation was clearly an effort to confuse the public and take the steam out of the only electoral process to test public opinion on the privatization of Pemex.  PAN leaders spent most of the week trying to discredit the consultation.  Most observers expect overwhelming opposition to Calderon’s privatization efforts.


2. “GENTE NUEVA” CONTINUE PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN
“Gente Nueva,” a group aligned with the Juarez Cartel, hung giant posters over one of Chihuahua City’s major thoroughfares on Wednesday, only hours after President Felipe Calderon paid a visit to the murder-ravaged city in support of his war on drugs.  The posters threatened Governor Jose Reyes, Mayor Carlos Borruel and General Felipe Espitia, commander of the Fifth Military Zone which has assumed most of the responsibility for the drug war in the state of Chihuahua.  Last week “gente nueva” hung a dozen giant posters with similar threats in Ciudad Juarez. 

The army is coming under increasing criticism from a broad section of civil society for its widespread use of warrantless home searches, arbitrary arrests and torture.  Ciudad Juarez, long a major center of narcotics trafficking, welcomed the army earlier this year when Calderon sent thousands of troops in an effort to reduce narcotics related murders.  Since then, the murder rate has increased.  A June 30th survey conducted by the newspaper El Diario found only 18 percent of Juarez residents strongly support the presence of the army, compared to 65 percent two months earlier.