1 September 2014 - 10:10 PM
A Year of Peña Nieto Conservatism
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A year has passed since Peña Nieto delivered his first State of the Union address, in which he announced the imminent approval of his reform agenda. Since September 1, 2013, six reforms have been approved on the issues of education, finance, fiscal policy, energy, telecommunications, and politics.

Osorio Chong, Silvano Aureoles and Miguel Barbosa submitting Peña Nieto

The main topic of this year's State of the Union is the approved reforms and how they are supposedly intended to benefit the country. 

The official statement on the government’s website reads, “Mexico is facing a historic opportunity. The country has the possibility of undertaking reforms that are capable of transforming and improving the quality of life of all Mexicans."

But a deeper insight by some specialists of these new infrastructure policies reveal some scary consequences to be faced by the average Mexican, as opposed to improving their quality of life, as officially stated.

The fiscal reform, for example, was officially intended to end the privileges of the wealthiest people, who could legally evade a lot of taxes; but it has been camouflaged and it has gone unstated that the tax increase is only intended to apply to individuals, not to corporations. All the taxes on small businesses and corporations have been standardized, and some of the biggest corporations, such as America Movil, Bimbo, Televisa, Soriana, Carso, and Wal-Mart, among others, will maintain their low tax privileges.

The fiscal reform also establishes an increase in taxes on some products and services, such as bubble gum, soda, pet food, private schools, buying or renting a property, and gasoline, just to name a few.

The educational reforms are officially intended to improve education and increase each school’s budget by giving them administrative autonomy and allowing them to receive external financing  from parents, parent’s associations, private agents, firms, banks, churches, and corporations. Political analysts have argued that such financing would impose the investors´ interests on the educational curriculum.

But apart from the financial clauses, the educational reform has no clause in which it is stated how educational levels will be improved. The government hasn’t approved an educational reform but rather a financial one. Education remains the same.

The telecommunications reform, according to some specialists, will violate the privacy of customers, and is intended to censor anti-government content. It will allow the government to retain information on clients for two years.

“As stated in the Federal Telecommunications Law, the Mexican Government is planning to retain the information of clients for two years; this retention of information is a privacy violation. This information is usually sold; two years of a person’s life allows one to know everything about him/her,” stated the specialist, Jeremie Zimmermann.

The telecom reforms will also allow the geolocation of mobile devices without a court order in order to “prevent crime.”

Although the government denies the energy reforms are intended to privatize Mexico´s natural resources (petroleum, natural gas, electricity), some sectors of the population see it as a privatization because it allows foreign investment, and harmful methods such as “fracking."

To sum up, these apparently harmless reforms are undermining the economy of the average Mexican, and benefiting just a few powerful individuals and corporations.

Peña Nieto says the reform's benefits are inconmensurable. Meanwhile, the prices of basic products are increasing each day and the minimum wage is still at $67.29 Mexican pesos per day (US$5 approximately).

Academic, Agustin Basave, stated about the reforms, “There are serious problems: the economy isn’t getting better, and the main reform hasn’t been done, the reform against corruption.”

Maybe that’s why Peña Nieto’s popularity keeps going down despite his efforts to gain acceptance through the media (advertisements and appearances in televison and radio shows). According to a poll conducted by Parametria, Peña Nieto comes to his second State of the Union with diminished acceptance (37-42%) compared to last year’s (60-62%).

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