Mexico’s Political Cartoonists Question Citizens’ Priorities During the World Cup, Legislator Intentions
Mexico’s best political cartoonists have been working extra hard recently to get people to pay attention to an energy reform bill currently being debated in the Senate. The bill would open Pemex (Mexico’s state-owned oil company) up to private investment, risking, many say, one of the government’s largest sources of income.
With so much at play, it’s not a coincidence that PRI and PAN legislators didn’t take any chances and scheduled debate of this bill to coincide with Mexico’s World Cup games. A cynical move if there ever was one. Analysts say the Peña Nieto administration and members of the PAN have agreed to a mutually beneficial pact that would allow high-ranking members of their parties to profit financially from this bill.
Massive protests rock Mexico as oil industry “opened up” to heavy extraction December 24, 2013
In a move that can only be described as dictatorial, the regime of President Enrique Pena Nieto signed a law privatizing the state-owned oil company, Pemex, against the will of two-thirds of the population.
The new law allows foreign companies to exploit oil in Mexico, breaking the revolutionary nationalization of Mexico’s oil industry in 1938. Though it faced a hearty opposition, it was passed by the collaboration between Neto’s party (the PRI) and the conservative National Action Party (PAN).
The collaboration between PRI and PAN is indicative in itself, since the PRI effectively stole the last elections from the Left through widespread electoral fraud. Still, Neto declared, “This year we, Mexicans, have decided to overcome myths and taboos in order to take a great step towards the future.”
In response to the oil reform, the opposition piled up chairs to blockade the entrance to the Congress building last week and prevent the vote from going through. MP Antonio Garcia stripped naked in Congress to denounce “the stripping of Mexico’s oil wealth.” Tens of thousands of protesters raged outside while the government went through the motions of aristocracy.
To many, the selling off of oil and gas resources to international corporations represents not only the selling off of oil wealth, but the surrendering of self-determination to neoliberalism and neocolonialism.
The Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920 was not only an anti-colonial movement—it was a revolution against capitalism that involved important radical and anarchist leaders such as Ricardo Flores Magon and Emiliano Zapata. Underneath the well known histories of the uprising peasants in Northern and Southern Mexico lies the militant oil workers’ strikes in Veracruz, which were responsible for the first paroxysms of the revolution.
After the first successes of the revolution, the presidency of Madero was assassinated (literally) by US interests in the guise of General Huerta. But the US shadow game was soon scattered by mass uprising, and in the late 1930s, President Cardenas would foreshadow the national liberation project with a radical nationalization program that put the still-radical oil sector in the hands of a state that (in spite of many terrible iniquities) guaranteed sustainability to campesinos through the ejido system.
The decision to liberalize (read: open up to Imperialism) the national oil industry is seen by many as the last straw in a sequence of events that started with NAFTA’s destruction of the ejido system in 1994. While it has catastrophic historical implications, “opening up” oil production also bodes ill for the country’s environment.
Mexico’s oil production has dropped one million barrels per day from 2004 to the present. The reforms will increase oil production, and especially heavy crude, which is similar to tar sands extraction. According to President Pena Nieto, ”This is the beginning of a new history for our country. We have opened the doors for a better future for all.”