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Pemex Modernization: A “Mexican Moment”?

Bottom Line: After being stalled a week over tough back room negotiations, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has now formally publicized his proposal for the “modernization of Pemex”

Analysis: On 12 August, President Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI) formally publicized his proposal for the “modernization of Pemex.” Back room negotiations stalled the announcement (which was expected last week) as Peña Nieto and his advisors met with their counterparts from the PRD who oppose the reforms. On the question of constitutional prohibitions on foreign investment in the energy sector, Peña Nieto hopes to amend Articles 27 and 28 to permit Mexico to issue concessions—although not concessions that include ownership of any oil or gas extracted. Mexico retains possession of the natural resources, but can now enter into risk- and profit-sharing partnerships with foreign investors. Yet Peña Nieto carefully lays out an argument built on the very words of Lázaro Cárdenas, the president who nationalized the oil sector in 1938.

Ever since, resource nationalism is a point of pride for Mexican politicians as well as the Mexican public. But Cárdenas himself stated that in the future, the nation should be able to enter into state-regulated concessions with outside actors.

Although Mexicans are dissatisfied with the retail facing side of Pemex, which has a monopoly on gas stations in Mexico,…

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