Friday, December 13, 2013

Continental driftings

As an American (Estadunidense), I take great pride in the fact that our neighbors are fucking up just as much as we do.

-Rob Ford epitomizes what Canada has become (With his crack smoking and drunken misbehaviour, Toronto's mayor personifies our crude, swaggering, bungling New Canada)

-Mexico is having a huge fight over the privatization of its petroleum industry. A bill just recently passed in the Mexican Congress to privatize reform the Mexican energy sector, opening it up to private concessions outside licensing and foreign investment.  Mexico's oil was nationalized in 1938, creating the state-owned Pemex to control Mexico oil exploration, refinement and distribution.  The irony is that the PRI, which now controls Mexico after a decade long hiatus in the opposition, had opposed the privatization bills while they were out of power.

I have been watching the marches and protests down Avenida a la Reforma since I arrived. From talking to my Mexican friends, there is a feeling that whichever way the fight goes, they are merely choosing a different sauce to be cooked in.  Pemex is corrupt, inefficient and rife with cronyism; privatizing will merely let others get their fingers on the corruption and cronyism. A NYTimes article quotes it well:
“The rich will get richer,” said José Luis Gutiérrez, an oil platform welder preparing for a 14-day shift at sea. “It is our pride, our heritage, but up to now, the poor are still poor.” '
Two decades after Mexico sold off banks and the telephone monopoly, Mexicans pay more for credit and phone service than other Latin Americans, and they suspect they will pay more for gas under the new law, too.
And similar sentiments in a Christian Science Monitor piece:

But on the streets, the view is more skeptical. Shopkeeper Rodolfo Villanueva looks to the recent past – the 1990 privatization of the state telephone monopoly Teléfonos de México – and suspects history is repeating itself.
“Is the same thing going to happen there as in Telmex?” asks Mr. Villanueva, who points out that a privatized Telmex “produced the world’s richest man” – Carlos Slim Helú, who made monopoly rents from his telecommunications empire in a country where half the population lives in poverty.

There is a sense that whichever way it goes, it is just someone else's interests being served and the people are screwed.

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