SCT Secretary Juan Molinar announced that his chief of staff, Mony de Swaan will be named by President Calderón to the Cofetel seat left empty by the sudden resignation of Hector Osuna last week. De Swaan came to SCT when Molinar was named Secretary, and had also been Molinar’s deputy when the latter was an IFE counsellor. In her business column, Maricarmen Cortés wrote that President Calderón would likely push for the Commission to vote de Swann into the chairmanship. She also noted that the pros for naming de Swaan were the prospect of greater coordination between the Ministry and Cofetel and the likely abolition of the ‘double window’ whereby telecommunications regulations have to be approved by both the SCT and Cofetel. The cons are his “brief but intense” background in telecommunications issues, and the likely de facto reduction of Cofetel’s autonomy.
A 2007 Supreme Court decision removed the Senate’s power to confirm Cofetel commissioners (on the grounds that the Cofetel is, as a body within the SCT, part of the executive branch and not a true autonomous agency). However, a number of parties have threatened to file suit to block de Swaan’s appointment on the grounds that he does not meet the legal qualifications as “having carried out in a distinguished manner professional, public service, or academic activities substantially related to the telecommunications sector.”
(Universal 6/30, 7/1)
Today’s victory over France ensures an extended political holiday, as Mexico is now assured of advancing to the second round of the World Cup. And the nation breathes.
President Felipe Calderón spoke as the guest of honor at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Environment ministers from more than 40 countries are meeting to discuss concrete steps leading up to the UN climate summit in Cancún in December (COP-16). Saying that time for the global community to act is running out, Calderón pledged, “We will arrive at Cancún with agreements and commitments that all parties will be able to sign on to; we will establish financial mechanisms and economic incentives that will make it possible and that will allow us to break the dilemma between fighting poverty or fighting climate change.” The President is also on a state visit to Germany. (German Ministry of Environment 5/2, Presidencia 5/2, Reforma 5/2)
Cell phone giant Telcel got a court injunction to prevent immediate disconnection of the 19 million cell phones that were not registered by the April 10 deadline. The unpopular measure to create a National Cell Phone Registry, known by its acronym ‘Renaut,’ is in limbo. There is no clear roadmap on how disconnect unregistered users or how to proceed to the second phase – the verification of the data that was provided in the initial registration. (More than 5,000 phones were registered in the name of ‘Felipe Calderón’, for example.) Columnist Sergio Sarmiento quoted a reader: “The Renaut was created to prevent extortions. Give me your money or I will kill your loved ones. But to implement it, the government is extorting phone users. Give me your personal data, or I will cancel your line.” (Reforma 4/14, 4/16)
PAN Deputy Javier Corral and Senator Gustavo Madero introduced a new telecommunications bill, even as the PRI-controlled commissions in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies passed legislation that allows for the granting or renewal of telecommunications concessions without a public tender. Reforma reported that the PRI bill was drafted on the computer of Televisa executive Francisco Javier Tejado, who was also reportedly present at all the commission’s meetings. The PAN alternative would create a new autonomous regulatory body to replace the ineffective Cofetel. It would seek to provide an integrated approach to telecommunications regulation, including convergence, and it would also open the sector to foreign ownership—100% in telecommunications and 25% in radio and broadcast TV. (Reforma 4/9, Universal 4/9)
Senate president Carlos Navarrete (PRD) predicted that the Senate will pass a political reform package during March, in order to send it to the Chamber of Deputies for its vote before the session ends on April 30th. Navarrete said that with the PRD-PT-Convergencia proposal (submitted last week) and the PRI proposal (expected this week), along with President Calderón’s proposal sent down in December there was plenty of material to begin preparing draft legislation. The PRD political reform proposal consists of 12 major points, including congressional ratification of cabinet officers and recall elections for the President, governors, and mayors, that are in sharp contrast to the President’s proposed reform package (which most analysts believe would strengthen the executive). (Universal 2/20, PRD Senate 2/18)