Critical assessments of Mexico’s oil industry in general and of its state-owned oil company, Pemex, in particular are commonplace, often with good reason: Both face many challenges in overcoming the historical legacies that have long undermined their performance. Nevertheless, when President Felipe Calderon’s term in office ends on Dec. 1, he will be leaving both in better shape than when his presidency began six years ago. True, there have been strategic misfires under his administration. Pemex’s opaque expenditure of almost $2 billion for an increased stake in Spanish oil company Repsol stands out, both for the lack of strategic oversight […]

In a meeting in Paris last week, President François Hollande of France and President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico pledged to move their countries’ battered bilateral relationship beyond the controversial case of Florence Cassez, a French citizen imprisoned in Mexico, with Peña Nieto promising to respect the Mexican Supreme Court’s ruling on the case. In an email interview, Roberto Domínguez, a Jean Monnet researcher at the European University Institute in Florence, discussed France-Mexico relations.* WPR: How extensive are relations between France and Mexico in terms of trade and diplomatic ties? Roberto Domínguez: Relations between France and Mexico take place against […]

In a reshuffling of the constituencies that elect board members at the International Monetary Fund, Colombia has left a group led by Brazil for one led by Mexico, while Western European countries opted to give more say to smaller European economies. In an email interview, Edwin M. Truman, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, discussed the changes in IMF constituencies. WPR: What prompted the reshuffling of voting groups at the IMF? Edwin M. Truman: The reshuffling of voting groups, or constituencies, on the 24-seat IMF executive board was prompted by two developments. First, at the Seoul G-20 […]

On Tuesday, the Cuban government announced that it would ease the highly restrictive travel laws it has kept in place for more than 50 years. Beginning next year, Cubans will no longer need an exit visa to leave the island, requiring instead only a passport and a visa for their destination country. Two experts spoke with Trend Lines about the impact the reforms will have. “The big question is how many Cubans will now rush to leave the island,” Ted Piccone, senior fellow and deputy director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, wrote Trend Lines in an email, adding […]

Irish President Michael Higgins visited Argentina, Brazil and China this month in an effort to boost economic ties with the region. In an email interview, Frank Barry, chair of international business and economic development at Trinity College Dublin, discussed Ireland’s trade strategy. WPR: What are the key sectors and partner countries for Irish trade? Frank Barry: One needs to distinguish between exports of Irish-owned (indigenous) companies and those of the foreign multinational corporations (MNCs) that use Ireland as an export platform from which to sell primarily into the European Union. Some 80 percent of total Irish exports are accounted for […]

The U.S. and Peru are renegotiating their long-standing defense cooperation treaty, as announced by the countries’ defense chiefs in a joint press conference in Lima earlier this month. In an email interview, Louis Goodman, the dean emeritus of the American University School of International Service, discussed U.S.-Peru defense cooperation. WPR: What is the extent of present-day defense cooperation between the U.S. and Peru? Louis Goodman: The United States and Peru have strong cooperative relations, which have been enhanced in recent years. Signatories of the 1947 hemisphere-wide Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, which commits parties to mutual defense, the two nations […]

Argentina’s legacy of debt default is back in the headlines this week after a Ghanaian port detained an Argentine navy ship, executing a court order on behalf of the country’s creditors. The bondholders who seized the ship said they do not plan to release it until Argentina repays at least $20 million of the $300 million they are owed on defaulted debt. This is the latest example of creditors — often vulture funds that purchased discounted bonds discarded by investors after Argentina stopped honoring its debts during its economic free fall 10 years ago — trying to seize the country’s […]

As India continues to grow, the recent slowdown notwithstanding, its need for natural resources shows no signs of ebbing. With New Delhi increasingly turning to resource-rich developed countries for energy and food security, Canada’s profile in particular seems to have grown considerably. Significant unconventional hydrocarbon resources, high-quality uranium deposits, abundant land and a lack of geopolitical risk all make Canada a natural partner to feed India’s rise. However, there are still some issues that need to be resolved before an even deeper relationship can take root. The outlook was not always so rosy. Canada was the first country to withdraw […]

Recent years have witnessed a significant increase in both labor disputes and regulatory burden in the resources sector across the world. The ongoing mining sector unrest in South Africa, marked by widespread wildcat action and shocking levels of violence, suggests that these pressures continue to mount and that previous policy responses may prove insufficient. Moreover, there is a risk that the disorder seen in South Africa may presage a new, even more contentious phase of global resource exploitation characterized by a higher incidence of resource nationalism in both developing and developed economies. Resource nationalism can take many forms (.pdf). At […]

During an online forum broadcast last month by the Spanish-language Univision network, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney assured the mostly Latino audience that, if elected, he would achieve sweeping immigration reform, while also promising not to pursue mass deportation of the 10 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. The Romney campaign has invested heavily in ads on Spanish-language media in swing states from Colorado to Virginia, and has deployed his son Craig, who speaks Spanish, to help court Latino voters. These efforts underscore the fact that Latinos are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States […]

On Sunday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez won a new term, defeating the strongest electoral challenge to his presidency to date, despite questions over his health and an opposition that has grown in strength and resolve. Both Christopher Sabatini, senior director of policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas and editor of Americas Quarterly, and Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, told Trend Lines that even though Henrique Capriles Radonski, the opposition candidate, lost the election, the opposition itself took a major step forward in the process. “The difference between the opposition’s performance this time around and […]

CARACAS — Venezuelans go to the polls Sunday in what some commentators have baptized the “mother of all elections.” Incumbent socialist President Hugo Chávez seeks a third consecutive term and a continuation of his “Bolivarian Revolution,” but faces a strong challenge from the social-democratic Henrique Capriles Radonski, the first opposition candidate since 1998 with a real chance of toppling Chávez. As the campaign comes to an end, tensions are running high. Last week, three opposition campaign workers were shot to death in Chávez’s home state of Barinas, allegedly by supporters of the president. Recent weeks had already seen sporadic clashes […]

China’s aggressive approach to territorial disputes with its neighbors in the South China Sea has raised regional tensions in recent weeks, highlighting the volatile potential of conflicts over territory and border demarcation. But though border disagreements can at times lead to open violence, as between Thailand and Cambodia, they can also be resolved through slow and steady negotiations, as between Cuba and the Bahamas. This WPR Special Report examines approaches to territorial disputes through articles published in the past two years. East Asia Senkaku Dispute Reflects China-Japan Struggle for Regional PrimacyBy Richard WeitzSeptember 18, 2012 Involvement of Taiwan, Hong Kong […]

The recent capture of several high-profile drug cartel capos has yet again propelled Mexico’s security situation into the spotlight. With last week’s arrest of important Zeta leader Ivan Velazquez Caballero, known as “Z-50” or “El Taliban,” the administration of President Felipe Calderón can now claim to have put 24 of the 37 most wanted drug cartel capos behind bars. While the reality of Mexico’s cartel-related violence is often shocking, much of the press coverage is more fiction than fact. In particular, three recurrent misconceptions surrounding Mexico’s security situation and drug cartels plague press coverage outside of Mexico and skew policymaking […]