May 2013 ● Good Neighbors Mexico, Canada, USA – A Perspective from Michael Barone

By Harriet Murray ● Cochran Real Estate ● May 2013

Puerto Vallarta Real Estate

I was impressed with this take on “Neighbors” since I am an American living and working in Mexico, selling real estate to citizens of these North American Countries.

In East Asia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines face challenges from China over islands they have long claimed in the East China Sea. In Europe, Germany and other prosperous nations face demands for subsidies from debt-ridden nations to avoid the collapse of the Euro. When Southern Europeans look across the Mediterranean, they see Muslim nations facing post-Arab spring upheaval and disorder.


The United States has land borders with just two nations, Canada and Mexico. The focus on the drug war ignores Mexico’s progress over the last 25 years as an electoral democracy. For 71 years, it had one-party rule of the PRI (Party of the Institutional Revolution). Under PRI rule, a president selected by his predecessor selected his successor.

Under PRI Presidents Carlos Salinas (1988-94) and Ernest Zedillo (1994-2000), Mexico established a clean election system under which the opposition conservative PAN and leftist PRD parties won state and legislative offices.

Vicente Fox and his PAN successor Calderon had some significant policy successes. But they were frustrated in getting changes in the energy sector, in which the state-owned monopoly Pemex has lagged behind, and in education, where teacher jobs are handed down from parent to child.

Since 2000, none of Mexico’s three parties has had majorities in Congress. This is one result from genuine political competition, in which voters have imposed rotation in office in governorships and legislative seats. PAN Presidents could not get reforms through Congress if they were opposed by the PRI and the PRD.

Things have been different since the 2012 presidential election. PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto seemed a depressingly conventional politician, who as governor of the state of Mexico (which surrounds central Mexico City)

Pena won the July election handily and on taking office in December called for major reforms. He issued a 34-page Pact for Mexico, which proposed greater competition for Pemex in the energy sector plus education and judicial reforms.

Remarkably, it was endorsed by PAN and PRD, as well as the PRI. Pemex has been a sacred cow in Mexico since the 1930s, when President Lazaro Cardenas seized foreign oil operations and created the state-owned monopoly. The Pemex union was a pillar of the PRI establishment. Now a PRI president was proposing to reform it, and his move was endorsed by a PRI party convention in March.

Pena also acted on education. In February, Congress passed a law establishing a transparent system for teacher hiring and evaluation. The next day, the government arrested the head of the teachers’ union and charged her with spending $156 million of union funds on luxury goods.

And Pena has moved to deregulate telecommunications, which threatens the position of telecom billionaire Carlos Slim. There is other heartening news from south of our border. Mexico’s economy is moving ahead with 5 percent growth.

Since the NAFTA treaty went into effect in the 1990s, it seemed that Mexico’s economy was tethered, leaving it unable to close the gap with the United States. Now as our economy slogs along slowly, Mexico is moving toward catching up. It is, as former Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda has proclaimed, a majority middle-class country now.

Mexico is also a country from which (according to the Pew Hispanic Center) there has been no net migration to the United States since 2007.

All this vindicates our previous four presidents, who pressed for closer ties with Mexico. But most of the credit belongs to the leaders and people of Mexico. Good neighbors.

Harriet Murray
E-mail: harriet@casasandvillas.com
Website: http://www.casasandvillas.com

This article is based upon legal opinions, current practices and my personal experiences in the Puerto Vallarta-Bahia de Banderas areas. I recommend that each potential buyer or seller of Mexican real estate conduct his own due diligence and review.

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