MEXICO CITY (AP) — In a steam-roller operation that ended Monday, a majority of Mexico's state legislatures approved sweeping energy legislation that will allow private companies to explore for and produce oil and gas in the country.
It took only about three days for 17 of the 31 state legislatures, one more than needed, to approve the transformation of Mexico's state-controlled oil industry that Congress passed last week. Some of the state congresses voted through the laws in the early morning hours after little or no debate.
President Enrique Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party, the PRI, relied on its dominance of most legislatures to push the bill through despite protests staged by opponents of the changes.
The PRI ruled Mexico from 1929 to 2000 relying on rubber-stamp congresses, and though Mexico has become much more of a democracy since then, many saw similarities to the party's old ways.
"It seems that the country hasn't changed at all — the old ways, the old style of the PRI at its most authoritarian have come to the fore," said Carlos Navarrete, a leading member of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, the PRD, which fiercely opposed the reform.
"In a process that did no honor to any of the parties involved, the local legislatures had to hold sessions within 72 hours, riding roughshod over rules and procedures, and only in some states ... did they hold a discussion before voting," Navarrete added.
Pena Nieto, who is on an official visit to Turkey, told the newspaper Reforma that the quick approvals "demonstrate the wide consensus that exists in the country." He said the approvals "have been very rapid but are part of a debate that has been going on for several months, since the proposal was submitted and several (debate) forums have been held."