Monday, April 18, 2022

AMLO's energy reform fails (April 18, 2022)

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's controversial push to increase state control of Mexico's electricity sector was defeated in the country's chamber of deputies. In an unusual Easter Sunday vote, the ruling Morena party and allies fell 60 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to approve AMLO's energy reform proposal. Opposition parties united in the face of a bill they said would hurt investment and breach international obligations, reports Reuters.

The failed bill would have given state utility Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) at least 54 percent of the market, capped private participation and folded independent energy industry regulators into the federal government. AMLO has vowed to send congress a new bill as soon as today asserting state control of lithium if the power reform failed, reports Bloomberg.

The bill would have eliminated independent regulators and halt public bids for electricity purchases, allowing the government to generate power without regard for cost or environmental impact, reports the Washington Post. The proposal would have hindered efforts to transition to cleaner energy by guaranteeing purchases to government-owned generating plants, which are dirtier, reports the Associated Press

The bill would have also caused conflict with the U.S. U.S. officials warned the restructuring could have a dramatic impact on foreign investment, and might violate the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

The Wilson Center analyzes the bill's potential failings, though noting the potential need for some kind changes to the country's 2013 energy reform.

News Briefs

  • Today marks the four-year anniversary of anti-government student protests in Nicaragua, which were brutally repressed by Presiden Daniel Ortega's government, part of a grim authoritarian slide and ongoing worsening human rights situation in the country. The government declared the protests an attempted coup d'etat, and has since banned numerous opposition political parties, NGOs, independent media and even private universities, reports AFP.

  • The protests posed a significant challenge to the Ortega-Murillo government, but negotiations between political opponents and officials failed, and demonstrations were brutally quashed. (Confidencial)

  • Nicaraguan communities in cities around the world gathered to commemorate the anniversary. (Confidencial)
  • The Amazon is emerging as a central issue in this year’s presidential campaign, reports the New York Times. Front-runner Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva seems to be taking a more environmentally conscious position, a sign of changing times, writes Manuela Andreoni.

  • Brazilian authorities said they are sending reinforcements to protect the Xipaya Indigenous territory in Para state, which was recently invaded by illegal miners. (Associated Press)

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro led thousands of motorcyclists on a campaign ride through São Paulo state Friday, seeking to drum up support ahead of October’s elections as he trails in early opinion polls, reports the Associated Press.
  • Disapproval of Chilean President Gabriel Boric rose to 57 percent, up more than 10 percentage points since mid-March when he took office, according to a survey by Activa published yesterday. His approval rating fell 6.2 percentage points to 28 percent. (Bloomberg)
  • Russia's invasion of Ukraine is making Cuba’s three-year-old foreign exchange crisis worse as import costs jump. The situation is undermining the island's incipient economic recovery and threatening more hardship for residents, reports Reuters.
  • Sexual violence linked to armed gangs in Haiti is not new but the situation has significantly deteriorated in the power vacuum created when President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated a year ago. The Guardian profiles three women working in the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux,  lawyers who are trying to obtain justice for women who have been raped.
  • Analysts say the rising popularity of outsider presidential candidate Javier Milei in Argentina suggests a new openness among beleaguered Argentines to a third way option, reports the Washington Post. (See Friday's briefs.)
  • 85-year-old former Peruvian leader Alberto Fujimori, who has been serving a prison term for crimes against humanity committed during his presidency, was hospitalized yesterday for the second time in a month. (AFP)
  • A South American wildflower, Gasteranthus extinctus, long believed to be extinct has been rediscovered by biologists in the foothills of the Andes mountains and in remnant patches of forest in the Centinela region of Ecuador, almost 40 years after its last sighting, reports the Guardian.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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