Towards the North American Union
Privatization of Mexican Oil Will Advance SPP Objectives
by Dana Gabriel
Mexican President Felipe Calderon has
proposed sweeping reforms to its state-owned oil company Petroleos
Mexicanos (PEMEX). He denies that his reforms constitute privatization
and claims they will serve to make PEMEX stronger. Many view his
proposals as a threat to Mexican sovereignty and nothing more
then an energy grab. It is through NAFTA and the Security and
Prosperity Partnership (SPP) that the U.S. is further securing
access and control to Canadian and Mexican resources. Former presidential
candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who lost to Calderon,
is spearheading a movement to stop oil privatization and pushing
for a referendum. Opponents of the reforms were able to force
the Mexican Congress to hold a series of debates which ended on
July 22. There is a swell of national sentiment spreading across
the country as the majority of Mexicans wish to retain control
of one of their last symbols of sovereignty.
Mexico's oil industry was nationalized
in 1938, and its constitution forbids foreign investment in the
oil sector, including private corporate ownership. Calderon insists
that his reforms are necessary for the very survival of the country.
He describes PEMEX as broken and bankrupt, and believes that the
only way to further develop any deepwater drilling is by opening
it up to foreign investment. The reforms will allow for key components
of PEMEX to be taken over by private companies. Opponents of the
plan have called it backdoor privatization and fear it will lead
to the complete takeover of the industry. If passed, the reforms
will allow private companies to build refineries, transport oil,
and own pipeline networks. It will open 37 of PEMEX's 41divisions
to private subcontractors. It has been reported that Halliburton
already has a contract with PEMEX to drill for new wells and maintain
pipelines. The move to privatize Mexican oil runs contrary to
a worldwide trend to further nationalize oil reserves.
There is little doubt that there are many
problems associated with PEMEX, but there should be the necessary
funds in place to make upgrades and pay for future development.
There have been allegations of corruption, including massive money
deviations and other improprieties. Some of its profits also went
to pay down Mexico's foreign debt. The point is that there has
been very little in the way of accountability of money allocations.
PEMEX also turns over 60% of its revenue to the government in
the form of taxes. Some of this money is used for social programs
and public work projects. It has been suggested that, by lifting
the tax burden imposed on PEMEX, it would be able to reinvest
in its own development. What is at stake is Mexico's future as
a sovereign nation. There are fears that the privatization of
PEMEX will only lead to more social unrest and plunge Mexico into
even deeper poverty. What are needed are reforms that truly strengthen
PEMEX and guarantee its oil supply for Mexican demand. This runs
contrary to the SPP and a North American resource pact which ultimately
favors the United States.
The SPP is designed to consolidate U.S.
control over North American energy supplies by expanding oil production
in Canada and Mexico. This includes gaining more access by further
deregulating energy markets. Under NAFTA, Mexico refused to privatize
its state-owned oil industry. The SPP is being used to bypass
the Mexican constitution, and privatization of North American
energy resources is at the very core of its agenda. Stuart Trew
of the Council of Canadians said that the North American Competitiveness
Council is, "providing input into the SPP through the North
American Energy Working Group, and their intentions are clear.
In the case of energy, what they want is a fast-tracked continental
integration policy." Laura Carlsen, the director of the Americas
Program at the U.S.-based Center for International Policy, has
stated that Calderon's reforms will help in achieving some SPP
objectives. She said, "The first is to increase U.S. energy
security by guaranteeing access to extensive deepwater reserves
in the Gulf of Mexico, including Mexico's portion of it."
She went on to say that, "The second objective is to open
up oil and gas production and market to foreign companies."
The SPP is paving the way for a North American Union.
Since Calderon came to power, he has aggressively
promoted NAFTA, free trade, the SPP, and the further privatization
of Mexican institutions. All represent steps toward a North American
Union. Last year, former Mexican President Vincente Fox, made
some amazing revelations on the Larry King and Daily Show. He
discussed how he had been working with President Bush towards
the creation of a single currency for North America. He also argued
in favor of a North American Union, using the EU as its model.
For all the talk of a North American Union being a conspiracy
theory, it was an incredible admission by a most senior former
government official. This was not a slip of the tongue, and was
meant to test the waters and further condition the population
for continental integration.
In Mexico, a movement is gaining momentum,
fueled by anti-NAFTA sentiments and plans to privatize its oil
industry. NAFTA has been a disaster for the average Mexican and
has increased U.S. and Mexican income disparities and further
widened the gap between rich and poor. Mexico represents the third
world component of NAFTA, and this could spread to the U.S. and
Canada. Some Mexican legislators have been working in conjunction
with their NAFTA counterparts to try and stop the SPP. It appears
as if a North American Union will be a hard sell in Mexico as
much of the population has woken up to the evils of globalization,
and are prepared to take action to stop it.