Tens of thousands of people have protested in the centre of Mexico City against President Enrique Pena Nieto's planned overhaul of the energy sector. Opposition leader Andres Lopez Obrador told the crowd to surround the Congress this week. Mr Pena Nieto says the plan to allow private investment in the oil and gas sector is needed to boost the economy. His approval ratings have slumped to their lowest since he took office a year ago.

A handful of young hackers looked up from their laptops when Jorge Soto burst into the upstairs office they shared in an old Mexico City house one morning last spring. Soto wanted to be sure they'd seen the front-page headline then flying across Twitter: Mexico's congress was set to spend 115 million pesos (then US $9.3 million) on a mobile app that would let 500 lawmakers track legislative affairs from their cellphones -- more than a hundred times what such software could cost.

During the "Public Diplomacy of the Americas" conference hosted by the USC Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars, former Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhán discussed U.S.- Mexico relations, highlighting the importance of increasing the digital component of Mexico's diplomacy to deal with issues such as trade relations, transnational crime, and immigration.

Last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Mexico City Mayor Miguel Mancera entered into a first-of-its-kind city-to-city agreement. This was not a typical Sister Cities cultural exchange pact. The Global Cities Economic Partnership instead plans a series of joint initiatives in trade, innovation, and education to increase employment, expand advanced industries, and strengthen overall global competitiveness.

Roman Catholic prelates in Michoacan state at last have drawn a line against local gangsters, and the officials nurturing them, further entangling what already was one of Mexico's more intractable knots of violence. But most of the Church hierarchy still seems reluctant to take a strong stand. The bishops have jumped in as the homegrown Knights Templar gang squares off against civilian militias, rival gangsters and thousands of federal troops across the Pacific Coast state.

Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico's former Ambassador to the United States, will be in residence as the 2013-14 CPD Distinguished Fellow. He spoke about a history of perceptions and realities in the Mexico-US relationship, and the implications for public diplomacy engagement.

November 13, 2013

When Marie Antoinette wanted to escape the confines and pressures of courtly life, she retreated to her quaint Petit Hameau where she and her companions donned their finest peasant frocks and pretended to be poor. A century later, fashionable Londoners took that pauper fantasy to a new extreme -- nocturnally touring East London's slums, where they gawked at ladies of the night and coined the phrase "slumming it."

On November 9, the website for the U.S.-Mexico Network at USC went live in conjunction with an event featuring Hillary Rodham Clinton.