On Oct. 23 Mexico’s 128-member Senate voted almost unanimously to pass legislation that opponents say will open the way to the partial privatization of Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), the giant state-owned oil monopoly. The 500-member Chamber of Deputies approved the Senate’s version without debate on Oct. 25. The Senate session was held in a downtown skyscraper to avoid protesters at the Senate building; some 1,200 agents from the Federal Preventive Police (PFP) guarded the session, with federal Public Safety Secretary Genaro García Luna leading the force himself.
Police forcibly removed deputies from the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) who tried to enter the room where the Senate was meeting. Deputy Aleida Alavez, who is two months pregnant, said someone from García Luna’s staff pulled her by the hair and threw her on the floor.
The vote was lopsided in both chambers. Four PRD senators and two from the small leftist Workers Party (PT) voted against all seven sections of the bill, while three from the Convergence party voted against two of the sections. The majority of PRD senators supported the measure, even though the party’s 2006 presidential candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has been leading the movement in opposition to it. Most PRD legislators, members of the party’s New Left (NI) faction, supported the bill in the Chamber of Deputies as well, but some PRD deputies joined PT and Convergence deputies when they walked out over a procedural dispute.
Even the opposition movement backed most of the legislation, which was greatly modified from the proposal that center-right president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa made earlier in the year. The opposition asked for 12 words to be added to bar contracts that might allow “the granting of exclusive blocks or areas” to private companies; the majority rejected the amendment. (La Jornada, Oct. 24, 26; Mexico Solidarity Network Weekly News and Analysis, Oct. 20-26)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 26