In early April, the Mexican government announced plans for an energy reform proposal designed to encourage private investment in the oil industry. The proposal would allow Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), the state-run oil monopoly, to offer contracts to domestic and foreign investors. The announcement sent ripples through the nation, sparking political upheaval and a large protest in Mexico City.
Raymundo Riva Palacio, editorial director of El Universal, a leading Mexican newspaper, discussed the details and the political ramifications of the plan last Thursday (April 24), at the Center for Government and International Studies. His talk, titled “Energy Reform in Mexico,” was the final event in the “Mexico Hoy!” series sponsored by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. John Womack Jr., Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin American History and Economics, moderated the discussion.
Over the course of the lunchtime talk, Palacio discussed the energy reform controversy as a window onto the complexities of the Mexican political system.
“What is at stake is not energy reform, but political power,” said Palacio.
According to Palacio, the turmoil caused by the energy reform plan highlights “deep problems” within the government as well as tensions inside the National Action Party (PAN), the conservative party of which the Mexican president is a member.
Palacio evaluated the government’s efforts to educate the Mexican population about the planned reforms via media and television campaigns. He also outlined the details of a scandal involving Juan Camilo Muriño, Mexico’s secretary of the interior, who was accused of inside dealings with Pemex during his tenure as undersecretary of energy.