With significant world leadership in this era apparent by its conspicuous absence, a new, bright Kennedy-esque figure has emerged from America’s southern neighbor, Mexico. As the focus of some of the worst derision aimed at any civilized nation in the recent past, with drug cartels, gun-running, assassinations etc. making ongoing headlines, this resource-rich member of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Authority) would seem least likely to produce an exciting new head of state, Enrique Pena Nieto, giving this potentially great nation a new lease on life.
Worse, recently-elected President Enrique Pena Nieto, although an attractive candidate, was the product of PRI, the political Mexican monopoly that had seen a parade of six-year-long presidential terms maintain near dictatorial power over a land with unlimited promise. This lasted for three quarters of a century, starting in 1929.
It’s still early in the game, but much has already been accomplished by President Nieto. Although quick in leading the passing a constitutional change to curb the powerful public teachers’ union, and a reform bill to strip public officials’ automatic immunity from criminal prosecution when warranted, as well as a telecommunications bill that curbs multi-billionaire Carlos Slim from monopolizing the nation’s communications system, followed in fast sequence. But the biggest achievement yet is on the verge of accomplishment.
This relates to Mexico’s gigantic oil industry (PEMEX), which had been nationalized in the late 1930′s, under then President Cardenas. Although offshore discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico, which that nation shares with the U.S., Mexico’s oil production neared a peak three million barrels a day, late in the past decade, before slipping badly in the last two years. It was set back as the nation’s biggest single proving field was quickly “drying up.” But by judicious negotiating among the three major political parties (PRI, PAN, PRD), a decision is now awaiting Congressional approval to end one of the world’s most important oil producers’ strangulating nationalization. This will open up the opportunities for foreign investment not only to inject badly needed financial strength, but also update the archaic extraction methods of the world’s leading producer.
Although lush in revenues that the nationalized oil giant Pemex produced, it was rapidly becoming antiquated. With little revenues left on the bottom line after nationalization, this had made Pemex a cash cow for government plutocrats and others associated with that enterprise.
With the groundwork of cooperation and personal good will with competing party leaders engendered by the new president, such governing wisdom may well lay the basis of the hemisphere’s third most populous country and its abundant natural resources waiting to be utilized. But most important of all, this unfamiliar Mexican leadership style may also broaden the middle class, making plentiful jobs available for Mexico’s fast-growing population. This could, in effect, greatly lessen the northbound surge and its impact on America’s immigration imbroglio.
Already, the growing capability of Mexico’s abundant and productive workforce is substantially shifting manufacturing opportunities from Southeast Asia to America’s southern neighbor.
Perhaps, most of all, it may show the world’s democracies that strong leadership and broad public participation are not mutually exclusive.
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