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Published: Tuesday April 29, 2014 MYT 12:20:02 PM
Updated: Tuesday April 29, 2014 MYT 12:44:36 PM

Mexican film director challenges President on energy reforms

Director Alfonso Cuaron (R) and environmentalist Sheherazade Goldsmith arrive at the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscars Party in West Hollywood, California March 3, 2014.   REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Director Alfonso Cuaron (R) and environmentalist Sheherazade Goldsmith arrive at the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscars Party in West Hollywood, California March 3, 2014. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Oscar-winning Mexican film director Alfonso Cuaron challenged President Enrique Pena Nieto to answer tough questions about reforms opening up the state-run energy industry to the private sector, in a letter published by national newspapers on Monday.

The reforms, approved late last year, will end state oil giant Pemex's [PEMX.UL] monopoly in a bid to boost private investment in the sector. The government hopes it will help growth in Latin America's second biggest economy and increase oil production which has fallen by a quarter since 2004.

The quick passage of the reforms through the national legislature drew sharp criticism and fuelled loud protests from Mexico's left, which views the state's appropriation of oil interests in 1938 as sacred.

"The legislative and democratic process of these reforms was poor and lacked deep discussion," said Cuaron, who this year became the first Latin American to win an Oscar for best director with his space thriller "Gravity".

"The dissemination of its contents was done in the context of a propagandistic campaign that avoided public debate," he said in the full-page advertisement.

Cuaron, 52, went on to challenge Pena Nieto to answer ten questions about the energy law, from how the country will avoid graft to how it plans to protect the environment as powerful foreign interests enter the market.

"Multi-million dollar contracts will be derived from the approved reform. In a country with such a weak (and often non-existent) rule of law like ours, how can you avoid large-scale corruption?" Cuaron asked.

Congress is currently hashing out the fine print of the energy reform through a series of so-called secondary laws that are due to be approved in the coming months.

From his official twitter account, Pena Nieto thanked Cuaron for the questions and said the government would answer them once the secondary laws were presented.

"Your questions enrich the debate and will help Mexicans to understand the reaches and benefits of the reform more precisely," he tweeted.

(Reporting By Alexandra Alper; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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