Presidential frontrunner López Obrador backs off threat to undo Mexican oil privatization
2 March 2018
When he ran for president in 2006 and 2012 as the candidate of the once center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) raged against privatizing Pemex (Petróleos Mexicano), the Mexican state oil company, which had held a monopoly over crude production since 1938.
In the 2012 election campaign, López Obrador called the plan of the current Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto of the Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI), to invite foreign oil giants to enter into profit-sharing and production contracts with Pemex “the robbery of the century,” which he said would cost Mexico $40 billion a year.
In December 2012, when the PRD signed on to Pena Nieto’s “Pact for Mexico” to liberalize the Mexican economy, the centerpiece of which was energy privatization, AMLO left the PRD to found his present political party, the Movement for National Regeneration (Morena). He rightly accused the PRD of abandoning the last of its social democratic pretensions.
When the Mexican Congress in 2013-2014 enacted sweeping legislation and changes to the Mexican Constitution in order to implement the energy reform, López Obrador called them a “band of criminals.” He led tens of thousands into the streets of Mexico City in protest.
At that time, AMLO emphasized that only 20 countries in the world had oil, and that without its patrimony Mexico would be “left with nothing.” He warned that if Mexico bought foreign gasoline instead of making it at home, Mexicans would pay 30 percent more for it. He projected a loss of $30 billion a year, which he said would starve the public budget of money needed for infrastructure…