President Enrique Peña Nieto (EPN) got into a fine mess with last week’s increase to the price of fuels. The administration knew for years, not months, that the beginning of the liberation of the price of fuels was programmed in 2014 to start on Jan. 1, 2018. On a one-sided decision, EPN decided in early 2016 to advance that move one year ahead of schedule.
It was clear that EPN and his cabinet were totally caught off guard as they did not expect the virulent reaction and rejection by the population.
For the past week and a half EPN has tried to do all kinds political maneuvers to tell the people that this is a done deal and that like all bitter medicine, the people of Mexico have but one option, to swallow it.
The last attempt to appease the irate reaction which continues to this day – there will be seven different demonstrations in Mexico City alone today, some already underway – was coming up with a concoction of wishful thinking that satisfied nobody.
The worst signs of unpreparedness for the reaction were that police corps, municipal, state and federal, saw themselves involved in monumental frays in which through bots on the web people were invited to rob supermarkets and sack convenience stores.
In the latest stint, EPN summoned one of the masterminds of the “gasolinazo” as the hike is popularly labeled, current Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Miguel Ángel Gurría, who in an angry tone told the public at a press conference Tuesday that this was inevitable and that in essence, there was only one valid point of view in all this and that was EPN’s and his team in government.
Gurría, an old Mexican system crony, has no credibility among Mexicans and his opinion, valid or not, went as far as EPN’s that is, nowhere.
Beside the opposition on the streets, a lot of it sponsored by opposing political parties to that of the President’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), EPN presented on Monday a seven point pact among top national leaders of business, labor, agriculture and of course, his cronies in the administration.
Lo and behold, there was opposition to the “Economic Strengthening and Protection of Family Economics” Agreement which also caught the administration off-guard.
Though the new “agreement” had the support of the Business Coordinator Council (CCE) which more than a representation is an economic think-tank, it had the full opposition from the Mexican Employers’ Confederation (Coparmex) which said the “agreement” had been a desperado move by EPN and that it had been ordered to approve it two hours before in was presented Monday.
In a press release, Coparmex blasted the attempt at a arm-twisting rebutting the “agreement” and coming up with its own proposal at the same time.
“Mexicans urgently need a leadership that places its attention on relevant themes and confront them head on with serenity and not fear with changes which bring about a social consensus in all sectors and that truly place Mexico as its main priority,” they said.
Since the first rejection, Coparmex leader Gustavo de Hoyos has held two press conferences to state that the decision to hike gas prices was “mistaken” and that the stance Coparmex had taken against “the president’s agreement” must not be taken as a rupture with the administration. In fact, Coparmex clashed directly should not be considered “breaking up” with the President but as a different option to the one presented Monday which was carried out in desperation and on the go.
“An agreement is urgent, yes but it is more important that said agreement be the fruit of a general consensus and not merely a communications strategy to create a (positive) public image” for the President.
Another group that said it’d not been consulted was the National Governors’ Confederation (Conago) whose leader, Morelos state Gov. Graco Ramírez, said that the governors of the 32 states of Mexico had not been summoned to give their support to EPN’s “agreement.”
In short, the President blew it and this agreement, like all flat tires, has got to be fixed.