The Mexican Pulse

By Glenn Holland

Mexico City, Jun. 7 ­ Businessman, investors, politicians and unions have been discussing the idea of an energy reform for years. Almost everyone agrees that the country needs one more than ever. But if a reform passes, the ones who would lose are the unions.

Last week, the Mexican Electrician’s Union agreed to completely reject the energy reform that the government is supporting. In fact, the union is planning to file suit against President Fox for having allowed private investments in the sector. It is a shame that the interests of a few hundred union workers can affect the well being of millions of Mexicans throughout the country.

According to the general director of the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, “Right now the unions have control over the country and the key sectors... (which) keeps funds from being used in the most efficient way.”

--The Committee of Medical Services for the House of Representatives had several flaws between 1992 and 2002 which resulted in the illegal movement of more than 12 million pesos. The disappearance of medical equipment, altering bills and making payments to inexistent companies were the order of the day for the representatives heading the organization. The Federal Attorney General’s office is investigating the case.

--The head of Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns was in Mexico a few days ago to offer a seminar on campaign strategies for those aspiring to be the Mexican president in 2006. Not only was ex Energy Secretary Felipe Calderón present, but also several personal assistants to First Lady Martha Sahagún. Could it be?

--According to a report by the Treasury Secretary and that of Internal Affairs, there are more administrative workers than general workers in 17% of the government’s departments. The report also points out that there is repetition in job duties in certain branches while a lack of coordination exists in others. A commission has been established to improve the government’s nuts and bolts.

--Very soon a free trade agreement between the U.S., Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua will take effect. This could bring good news to Mexico. The National Chamber of Textile Industry estimates that the treaty would stimulate 100 million square meters of textile production for export to the region and would generate between 20,000 and 25,000 new jobs for the country.

--The National Council against Addictions informed that every year 53,000 Mexicans die as a consequence of tobacco consumption.

--Only 14% of graduate programs that are given in the country are of excellence according to the National Science and Technology Council. And the National Center for the Evaluation of Superior Education released a report that shows that during the past two decades the percentage of university students that finish their degree has not changed. Of all students, 40% quit school before finishing their degree.

--Mexico City is the second largest metropolis in the world and very polluted. However, within the political limits of the city there are high quality agricultural plots. In fact, 64% of the city’s agricultural production is organic. That means that all the products that are used to plant, maintain and harvest the crops are natural, free of chemicals. In 2000, this sector generated almost 10 billion dollars of income. Among the most common crops are corn, field beans, lima beans, zucchini flowers, lettuce and cactus.