On February 26, upon signing the memorandum of understanding with the IDB, Calderón stated that the country has “unknown” conditions to invest in key sectors, such as energy, superhighways, airports, tourism, and “infrastructure for development”; all aspects linked to the PPP. For his part, the IDB president, Luis Alberto Moreno, who continues promoting investments in renewable energy in Latin America, added that the agreement is going to “encourage” private participation in the projects.
Along with various corporations with ties in the energy sector, among them the American AES Corp, Costal de El Paso, Constellation, Duke Energy, PP&L, Ormant; the Spanish Endesa, Iberdrola y Union Fenosa and the Canadian HydroQuebec, those that will benefit from the projects will be the Forbes multibillionaire and leader of the Pacto de Chapultepec, Carlos Slim, primary shareholder of Grupo Carso, who would be able to monopolize the building of fiber optic infrastructure for telecommunication industry from Southeastern Mexico to Panama. As well, his company Swecomex, which has interested itself in participating in international associations to further develop petroleum infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico, would be able to finance the Central American refinery revived by Calderón. Two more of his companies, Promotora del Desarrollo Económico de América Latina and Promotora Inbursa, have been entering the superhighway construction market, an industry reactivated in the context of the PPP, that which coincides in its turn with the announcement of the re-privatization of superhighways by the branch secretary, Luis Téllez.
The construction of another port in Salina Cruz, with the modernization of the existing port, along with the improvements to the ports of Coatzacolcos and Pajaritos, Veracruz; of railways and the regional airport of the Tehuantepec isthmus and the Acayucan-La Ventosa superhighway, as well as this month’s inauguration of the La Venta wind-power plants in Oaxaca, constructed by Iberdrola on top of 800 hectares of plundered ejido land, indicates that the PPP continues advancing. Another project that will now be restarted with IDB funds will be the construction of the La Parota hydroelectric dam in Guerrero, which had been suspended previously due the strong community outcry.
In agreement with its founders, a priority objective in the new phase of the PPP is to consolidate the Regional Electricity Market (MER in its Spanish initials), facilitating the opening of the sector to direct foreign investment. According to IDB predictions, principal sponsor and coordinator of the “financial engineering” of the PPP, the MER will begin operation this year upon the completion of the network of the Central American System of Electrical Interconnection (Siepac), a high voltage transmission line that will connect the electrical systems from Panama to Mexico, and from Mexico to the United States.
Documents of the Interamerican branch of the US Department of the Treasury, define the MER as “a commercial space of regional scope in which the entitled agents can freely carry out transactions of buying and selling electricity within and outside of their country, accessing any of the transmission networks without discrimination, with the payment of a toll”. As well, the system “will facilitate the convergence with future development of the regional natural gas industry”, by promoting “the installation of high tech electrical generation plants, creating incentives for the construction of natural gas pipelines and greater energy integration with neighboring countries, such as Mexico and Colombia, potential suppliers of natural gas to the region”.
In agreement with data from Cepal and InterAction, a NGO with headquarters in DC, the realization of MER will occur when more than 50 percent of the state electrical generation in Central America has been transferred to transnational companies. It is no secret that the opening up of the energy sector to the private sector has been accompanied by a myriad of false arguments and the generation of fear and social psychosis, to the point that it borders on collapse. It is also known that the processes of privatization of state electrical energy has been accompanied by corruption, by increases in service costs from the US to Argentina, and by low quality and bad service.
Seeing as energy is the true motor of the system of capitalist production, controlling the entire chain of production linked to this sector means big business, because it allows one to reduce input costs and increase profits. In addition, the corporations seek to appropriate everything that generates electricity: rivers, waters, reservoirs, coal, monoculture farming for the production of ethanol, natural gas, technology.
One of the less overt projects of the PPP is the creation of supranational “judicial statutes”, that would allow the creation of mechanisms like MER and Siepac, and would include the standardization of laws, norms and regulations between member countries, which would be molded by the United States.
Like Fox before him, today Calderón is the pusher of Central American leaders towards a geostrategic project designed with the energy and national security needs of the United States in mind. The militarization of Mexico complements these economic mega-projects under way.
Originally written in Spanish by Carlos Fazio and published in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada on April 23rd 2007.