I am not doing my more or less original writing in today’s column, but giving you two the two sides of the raging debate over President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Energy Reform.
First I’m giving you parts of the article published on Monday be economist and former federal deputy Luis Enrique Mercado in pro-government daily newspaper Excelsior, and secondly the opinion of influential La Jornada left wing daily writer Enrique Galván Ochoa.
As a precedent I must point out that I have worked as a reporter for both of them and developed a friendship with each. First with Galván Ochoa I was an editorial assistant in his oil trade magazine Dinero and with Mercado I worked both as an industrial reporter and a translator in El Economista, a finance daily he founded, published and was editor of.
But both are the interpreters of very different ideologies as it shows in the following paragraphs, which are literal translations of their points of view on the latest very controversial fuel prices hike imposed by the Peña Nieto Administration.
First, Luis Enrique Mercado:
“The decision to liberate the prices of gasoline increased demagoguery, populism and the lies that are always present in a society, but which seem today to dominate the collective thought of Mexicans.
“Increasing prices or increasing taxes are decisions that will never make anyone happy, but that does not mean they are incorrect.
“The Enrique Peña Nieto Administration had the ability to outline and achieve in Congress the approval of one of the great reforms the nation needed, the Energy Reform, and whose basic principle is that the government stops being the only one who explores, exploits, transforms and sells energy products.
“That model was worn out decades ago. The Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) state-owned oil monopoly was, and still is, not only deeply inefficient but deeply corrupt. The entire production apparatus of the country and all the consumers suffer from said inefficiencies and the doors were closed for models of increased efficacy and beneficial for finances as well as national consumers.
“The liberation of gasoline prices to have them reflect the real cost of the product, including transport, is a difficult decision but one which must be carried out so as to not deliver, as it’s been done for the past few years, hundreds of millions of pesos to subsidize the price of fuels.
“That subsidy is like putting money in the pocket about 20 percent of wealthier population of the nation; 80 percent of each subsidized peso ends in the pockets of that group.
“When demagoguery, populism and lies blossom with the decision to liberate prices, the nonsensical stupidities such as those of López Obrador who says that, whenever he is president, gasoline will cost five pesos a liter or from groups who see in the (price liberation) measure the failure of the Energy Reform.
“This is not to justify the appalling communications strategy by a government that clumsily promised that gasoline prices would never rise and that there would be no new taxes tagged to it. Like all products, gasoline has a cost and that cost must be paid by the consumer. It is irrational for the government to pay a part of this price. Cheap fuels now belong in history.”
Secondly, here’s what Enrique Galván Ochoa had to say:
“The year 2017 brought us as a gift the anticipated liberation of the prices of gasoline fuels, which was initially predicted to take place in 2018. The same went for domestic gas.
“It also brings the confirmation of a realization of the truth: it was false that the Energy Reform was designed for the benefit of Mexicans. In reality, it is only serving to transfer to private investors the energy heritage of the nation.
“There were long lines at the filling stations and relatively little demonstrations of non-conformity. The “revolution” that was to come without firing a shot with which one of the signatories of the Pact for Mexico, Jesús Zambrano, made a lot less noise than the fireworks explosion tragedy that came at the end of last year.
“There were isolated problems reported in five states and the cry in the demonstrations shouting “The people are tired of so much frigging thievery” (“el pueblo se cansa de tanta pinche tranza”) still evokes the feeling of helplessness that unites the nation.
“But once again it could be observed that the government has on its side the unfinishing abnegation of the citizenry.”
In short, like it or leave it, the fuel price hikes are here to stay and next March each filling station will sell at the price they see fit.
But no doubt, these contrasting views of my two friends reflect the feelings of the nation political forces: a cry of victory from the right and one of submission from the left.