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Open Access Publications from the University of California

CLAS Policy Papers

The Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) at the University of California, Berkeley is the locus of activity for a unique working community of Latin Americanist faculty, students and other research collaborators from the United States and Latin America. CLAS strives to enhance the work of UC Berkeley's Latin Americanist community and build bridges to other institutions, groups and individuals throughout the Americas. As part of that effort, the Center publishes two series of papers, CLAS Working Papers and CLAS Policy Papers, which are available both here and on the Center's website at

Cover page of Mexico’s Deteriorating Oil Outlook: Implications and Energy Options for the Future

Mexico’s Deteriorating Oil Outlook: Implications and Energy Options for the Future


The decline in oil reserves and in output from the supergiant Cantarell oilfield sets new challenges for Mexico’s oil industry. Wide-ranging reforms are required, including ambitious new plans for Gulf of Mexico deepwater development. The Calderón government is giving priority to new infrastructure and to increasing Pemex’s capital expenditures, but it will be important for state-owned Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) to restructure thoroughly and for the Mexican energy industry to meet a wide range of challenges in order to supply domestic needs adequately and have a sustainable, competitive future.

Cover page of Global and U.S. Immigration: Patterns, Issues, and Outlook

Global and U.S. Immigration: Patterns, Issues, and Outlook


In 2005, 3 percent of the world’s residents left their country of birth or citizenship for a year or more. These migrants include persons in all legal statuses whose reason for being abroad range from study to work to settlement. Most industrial countries have organizations that advocate no borders at one extreme and no immigrants at the other. These extremes have hardened, and each faction seems to prefer the status quo to a compromise that can be enacted into law, which may explain the persistence of the status quo.

The U.S. had 37 million foreign-born residents in 2007, totaling 12.3 percent of the U.S. population and almost 20 percent of the world’s international migrants. The Senate in May–June 2007 debated and failed to approve the “comprehensive immigration reform” favored by President Bush and most Democrats, which aimed to reduce the influx of unauthorized foreigners and provide a path to legal status for many of them. The failure of immigration reform has led to a range of consequences including the no-match enforcement strategy, the failure of the DREAM and AgJOBS bills, and the thorny status of immigration in the 2008 presidential election.

Cover page of Long Road to the Voto Postal: Mexican Policy and People of Mexican Origin in the U.S.

Long Road to the Voto Postal: Mexican Policy and People of Mexican Origin in the U.S.


In the spring of 2006, for the first time ever, tens of thousands of Mexican citizens living in the U.S. received absentee ballots to vote for the next president of Mexico, crowning a major transformation in Mexican policy. This paper, published in advance of the 2006 election, explores this form of transnational migrant empowerment as a major step in the redefinition of the terms of Mexican nationality and citizenship which allows for permanent residence abroad and even de facto dual citizenship and binational civic participation—and explores how the new policy may open a new dimension of minority politics in the United States. The arrival of distance voting in Mexico’s elections is part of a larger response to the rise of a new network of Mexican immigrant leaders, activists, and organizations in the U.S.—a network that the Mexican government helped develop and which is distinct from established U.S. Latino leadership. Both the U.S. and Mexico have repeatedly altered their basic policies toward the migration of Mexicans to the United States. This background paper places Mexico’s policy today against the backdrop of the various ends it has pursued, the means it has employed, and the results it has achieved over time. It examines the evolving civic orientation of both Mexican immigrants and U.S.-born Mexican Americans, touches on the role of issues such as guest worker programs, and pays special attention to the role of the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior—IME), a major new government agency.

Cover page of Meeting the Need for Safe Drinking Water in Rural Mexico through Point-of-Use Treatment

Meeting the Need for Safe Drinking Water in Rural Mexico through Point-of-Use Treatment


Millions of rural Mexicans risk contracting serious diseases every time they drink water. Building centralized treatment and distribution systems for every community is cost-prohibitive and time consuming. In contrast, inexpensive and rapidly deployable technologies designed to disinfect water at the point-of-use (POU) are now available. Unfortunately, Mexican water institutions have thus far not taken advantage of these technologies. The trend toward decentralization has shifted the responsibility for water provision to local authorities without providing the resources they need to achieve success. Several federal agencies, including the Secretary of Health (SSA) and the Secretary of Social Development (SEDESOL), have active outreach programs in local communities across the nation and could be highly effective at implementing POU technologies. In this paper we argue that POU technologies, implemented by federal agencies in cooperation with states and municipalities, have a crucial role to play in making safe drinking water available throughout rural Mexico.

Cover page of Pemex: Problems and Policy Options

Pemex: Problems and Policy Options


Mexico—the sixth biggest oil producing nation in the world and one of the three main oil exporters to the United States—would appear to have reached a peak oil scenario in which oil output levels are likely to decline sharply in the near term. Meanwhile, the company, which enjoys monopoly status in the Mexican market, suffers from a crisis situation in many aspects, running from major indebtedness to corporate governance to aging infrastructure. The next Mexican president has a number of reform options to choose from, none of them easy.