[Cmi-lapaz] Mexico: An Oil Nation in Crisis

Council on Hemispheric Affairs coha en coha.org
Jue Oct 22 15:03:55 PDT 2009

Council on Hemispheric Affairs Research MemorandumCouncil on Hemispheric Affairs Research Memorandum
About COHA Contact COHA In the News Internships Mexico: An Oil Nation in Crisis
Mexico is currently facing one of the biggest economic recessions in the country’s two hundred-year history of independence. Some Mexican policy makers blame the economic crisis on this year’s decrease in tourism, while others attribute it to the continued dependence of the Mexican economy on the United States, pointing to its neighbor’s recession as a principal cause for the country’s woes. Nonetheless, Mexico’s plummet in oil production and the decline in the price of oil are two main contributors to its present economic downfall. While other countries have begun to pull out of the recession, it appears that the fall in oil production and prices have further led to an ongoing decline in Mexico’s economy, which the country’s planners are finding difficult to reverse. 

Current Oil Situation 
Oil is at the heart of the Mexican economy. Profits on its extraction are the country’s number one revenue, accounting for approximately 40 percent of Mexico’s total revenues. Due to the decline in the price of oil that began last year with the escalation of the global recession, Mexico’s oil-dependent economy has suffered grievously. Prior to the sag in oil prices, when other oil producing countries were taking advantage of the tremendous peak in prices, Mexico was hit particularly hard; government officials reported that last year’s drop in oil production cost the Mexican government an estimated US$20 billion in lost revenues. This year’s plunge in oil prices has resulted in oil export revenues being recorded at only $1.25 billion per month for the first seven months of 2009, a fall from an average of $1.44 billion per month in 2008. The falling prices and production rate continue to damage the economy, and many blame the Mexican government for its failure to channel new investments in to various oil-producing fields, along with its mismanagement of revenues. Mexico feels the pressure to convert its oil profits into public spending in order to generate immediate results and to keep a lid on the country’s mounting social tensions; instead it sometimes foolishly refuses to put aside some of the profits to ensure financial stability. 
For full article click here 
This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Nancy Cruz 
Due to technical difficulties, four of COHA’s research publications were not distributed to all of our readers this past week.
Below are the links to the articles:

Rehabilitating Mexico’s Drug War: Drug Challenges Rising in the U.S. and Mexico
by COHA Research Associate Christina Esquivel

The U.S. Department of Justice decision yesterday to cease the prosecution of the state-sanctioned use and distribution of medical marijuana constitutes a significant step away from militarized federal enforcement of drug laws, and toward a model more responsive to local needs and in line with international realities. In recent weeks, the international community has grown increasingly critical of the negligible gains and onerous costs brought on by Washington’s forty-year prohibition strategy. Countries from Northern Europe to Latin America have embraced an approach to drug policy emphasizing public health over criminalization through new strategies to reduce harm and treat addiction. The Obama administration now appears ready to de-escalate the “War on Drugs” waged by its predecessors, rejecting prior terminology and relinquishing greater power to the states. However, Washington continues to play a crucial role in setting the tone for a drug policy debate with its southern neighbors, who have suffered the brunt of decades of drug warfare. Even as Washington recedes from its dominant role in the War on Drugs at home, it must reform its policy guidelines abroad to accommodate the regional debates and national initiatives aimed at alleviating the damages of the drug war to many societies throughout the hemisphere.

The School of The Americas: New Legislation Brings Limited Transparency
By: COHA Research Associate Nicholas Maliska

After years of lobbying by human rights activists, Congress has approved the release of information on the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas, the military training facility infamous for producing some of Latin America’s most notorious human rights violators. The final amendment incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010 requires the Pentagon to release the names and enrollment information of students and instructors at the facility for fiscal years 2009 and 2010. However, the bill falls far short of the expectations of the human rights community by not disclosing the same information for the years 2005 through 2008, leaving a large hole in the public record of who the U.S. military was training and what was being taught to the Latin American military personnel in attendance during those years.

Santos of Semana Magazine Offers Words of Wisdom Coming from Colombia
By: COHA Staff

COHA and the 34,000-member Newspaper Guild-CWA are proud to announce that Alejandro Santos Rubino has been awarded the inaugural Charles A. Perlik Jr. Award for Excellence in the Field of Print Journalism Throughout Latin America, for his groundbreaking work with Colombia’s weekly Semana Magazine. Before Santos delivered his acceptance speech, Melissa Nelson, a high-ranking official of the Newspaper Guild-CWA, extolled the accomplishments of the late Charles Perlik, who was the longest standing president of the Guild, and described his dedication to human rights causes and labor issues throughout the hemisphere. Ricardo Gjivoje, a COHA Senior Research Fellow and former OAS senior advisor on policy to its Secretary-General, discussed the obstacles facing journalists in Latin America, particularly in Colombia where 136 journalists have been murdered in the past two decades.

Guatemala Far from out of the Woods: Sentencing of an Ex-Paramilitary Officer a Transformative Step for the Country?
By: Elizabeth Benjamin

On August 31, 2009, a Guatemalan court in the mountain town of Chimaltenango convicted Felipe Cusanero, a former paramilitary officer in the country’s 36-year-long civil war. His crime was the forced disappearance of six indigenous villagers between 1982 and 1984. In many regards, the conviction could mark a turning point in the fight against governmental impunity and is a major step towards reconciliation in the violence torn nation. However, such optimism may be out of order because this is the first disappearance case ever to be brought before a Guatemalan Court. It cannot be ignored that former government officials responsible for the deaths and disappearances of thousands during decades of bloody civil war are still being held unaccountable while claiming amnesty and thereby avoiding the coils of justice. 
For full article click here 
This analysis was prepared by COHA STAFF 
Thursday, October 22, 2009 | Research Memorandum 09.2 
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being "one of the nation's most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers." For more information, please see our web page at www.coha.org; or contact our Washington offices by phone (202) 223-4975, fax (202) 223-4979, or email coha en coha.org. 

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