The News
The News
Sunday 22 of May 2022

EPN's Two Achilles Heels

Man pumps gas at Pemex station,photo: Cuartoscuro/Saúl López
Man pumps gas at Pemex station,photo: Cuartoscuro/Saúl López
The 3.9 percent increase to industrial and commercial electricity, however, came unannounced and by surprise on Monday

The joint price increase of fuels and electricity Monday has unleashed a torrent of fury against the President Enrique Peña Nieto (EPN) administration’s Energy Reform.

This new battle front comes to join the wrath EPN has invoked on the teachers’ minority National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) union. This has divided the nation particularly with the transportation blockades the CNTE is currently using in its domains in the states of Michoacán, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas.

Protests immediately broke out in different fronts Monday against the gas price increase including at the Senate, where current leader Roberto Gil Zwarth of the National Action Party (PAN) dismissed the administration’s excuse that the increases “was approved by Congress.” Gil Zwarth says it never was, but that was the excuse for the increase that the fearful and sweating Treasury officials gave during last Friday’s press conference to announce the fuel hike.

The 3.9 percent increase to industrial and commercial electricity, however, came unannounced and by surprise on Monday.

From the PAN front, Sonora State Senator Francisco Búrquez said that they are in total disapproval of the fuel and electricity hike to industrial and commercial consumers.

Búrquez said that they are currently working on next year’s budget and given “the abusive increase on gasoline,” EPN has said they will be on the lookout to keep “taxes low” within the 2017 budget, which is about to be negotiated.

Both Gil Zwarth and Búrquez backed EPN’s Energy Reform back in 2013.

Búrquez made this statement before EPN electroshocked Mexicans with the electricity tax, which means, there’s more flak to come against EPN and his Treasury Secretary Luis Videgaray, as well as the Federal Electricity Commission.

In all the Mexican media there are irate tirades against the electricity hike and on Wednesday we still had to hear from the top business organizations who bitterly complained last month about the fuels and electricity increases slapped on them and the general population. They repeated the general warning against the government’s careful watch of inflationary trends warning that “all taxes are inflationary” and unquestionably and inevitably they will reflect in consumer prices.

But the PAN onslaughts are from the right. From the left-wing there was an immediate assault from presumptive National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) who accused Peña Nieto of delivering the once Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) exclusive business of distributing gasoline and diesel to 10 different “foreign” companies, who are now making 500 billion pesos ($263.5 million) in profits with this new increase through imports. Currently Mexico is importing 66 percent of its refined fuels.

“Not even Petróleos Mexicanos is going to buy gasoline abroad,” AMLO said immediately after the fuels announcement. “These companies receive the permits to import gasoline and sell it, and since it is a juicy business, they are buying low quality gasoline and intoxicating the people of Mexico through contamination,” AMLO added.

Also, though not noticeable in the media, a group of former Pemex employees, who are part of the official Oil Workers Union and who now form the National Energy Studies Institute, accuse EPN of trying to “destroy Pemex” by not allowing the company to produce gasoline.

“The nation consumes 800,000 barrels a day and although Pemex still has this production capacity and is financing to build more refineries, gasoline is being imported. This makes no sense,” said Institute leader Mario Galicia, among others.

Today it is impossible to make predictions as to how far unhappiness with EPN’s energy increases is going to go, but from the reaction against it from all walks of Mexican ideological life it is clear that the rumblings of hurricanes forming in both the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans can be loudly heard.

This will form a second protest front aimed at EPN and his Institutional Revolutionary Party’s (PRI) Education and Energy Reforms, which in 2013 were the darlings of the then highly acclaimed Pact for Mexico and are now being labeled as the “Pact against Mexico.”

But today, the protests against the “benefits” of the Energy Reform will be joining those of the CNTE, which had already found EPN’s Achilles Heel. And now EPN and PRI have also revealed that the president has, as of now, a very vulnerable second heel.