There was nothing to celebrate on Monday, July 4, neither for the president or the Mexican industrialists and business people of Mexico.
The latest poll carried out by daily El Universal and pollsters Buendía and Laredo brought President Enrique Peña Nieto very bad news. His popularity plummeted to 56 percent last March, when their last poll was carried out, from 63 percent at the end of June.
And for the entrepreneurs, July 4 brought the announcement of new electricity price increases with 5 to 7 percent for storefront businesses, 2 to 5 percent for industries and 6.8 percent for homes with high electricity usage.
Unlike last Friday’s July 1 increase in the price of gasoline, this new increase is not a tax. The state-owned Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) claims that the price hike is due to the increase of fuel oil and natural gas 18 and 8.4 percent, respectively, as compared to July 2015 prices.
For the CFE, the price increase is warranted and they made it clear that homes with low electricity consumption will not be subject to any increase. Yet, for the northern Mexico-U.S. border-states the hike is very bad news, as most homes thrive on air conditioning which pumps them into the “high electricity usage” category. Surely, they were not celebrating the Fourth of July either.
But what is irking people the most is the gasoline hike, mostly because it is a tax, and the immediate increase in commodity prices is being felt. It’s difficult to gauge it now, but some foodstuffs have already been hiked.
The president had one his best popularity moments on January 4, 2015, when he stopped the monthly gasoline price increases that had been established from previous president Felipe Calderón’s administration, which claimed it was subsidizing gasoline use in the nation. Of course, Calderón is now part of Mexico’s historical garbage dump because of his mismanagement of Pemex.
Then came Peña Nieto’s much-touted “Energy Reform,” the results of which are in plain sight, namely none.
“Thanks to the tax reform, for the first time in five years there will be no monthly increases to the prices of gasoline, diesel and LP gas” President Peña Nieto tweetted back in January 2015.
Well, it seems that the Energy Reform, which was the heart of the president’s change of the status of oil-company Pemex, has not gone that well. What’s more, all of the political parties that opposed the “privatization” of Pemex are now singing, “I told you so” as the president’s Energy Reform is cracking at the seams.
The famous global investment hawked by Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquín Coldwell never came, production went down and to boot, as we all know, the price of crude oil went skidding downwards depriving the government from the joys of administering a big income oil budget.
Of course, to the president’s diminishing popularity you must add the governance crisis created by the rogue National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) union who has politically cornered his administration. In fact, just last Friday Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong warned the CNTE teachers that “time is running out” before the government uses public force to remove them from the many blockaded roads they now control. What happened? Instead of enforcing the law, Secretary Osorio Chong pulled out the total number of federal policemen from Oaxaca and Chiapas. Indeed, Osorio Chong made it look like “time is running out,” but for the Peña Nieto administration.
And the icing on Peña Nieto’s cake, is that he’s now being accused of protecting corrupt governors. In the cases of Veracruz, Quintana Roo and Chihuahua, governors such as Duarte, Borge, and Duarte (no family relation between the two Duarte) had knowledge of the sacking the state coffers. When they leave office soon, they’ll walk.
Surely, if President Peña Nieto wants to improve his image, he must do something, pronto!