Speech by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The first 100 Days of the Fourth Year in Government
2022: Year of Ricardo Flores Magón, precursor of the Mexican Revolution
Mexicanas and Mexicanos:
In the first three months of the year 2022, what has been most significant, and for the better, has been the decline in the COVID-19 pandemic. It is true that another external factor, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is producing economic and humanitarian upheavals, but even though this war is regrettable, like any other, nothing caused us so much sadness and pain, and nothing harmed our productive and social activities as much as the pandemic we experienced in the past two years.
However, with the support of the people and with the imagination, work, and honesty of public servants, we are moving forward and living in times of hope and transformation.
In times of political normality, the job of governing is not so complicated. What is difficult, but at the same time inspiring, is to do it well in times of adversity. And because this has been and will continue to be the work of an entire people, we have demonstrated with our blessed idealism, that we have achieved what is difficult and we at least attempted to obtain or face what is impossible.
The data demonstrate the progress made to date. Some 21 million workers are enrolled in the Social Security and Health-Care System, a historic figure. This is also the case with the average salary, which is 14,370 pesos (1) per month. Since we took office, the minimum wage has increased 71 percent in real terms. As a result, its purchasing power has increased for the first time in more than four decades. Last year, remittances amounted to almost 51.60 billion dollars and continue to increase as never before. In this first quarter remittances have grown by 18 percent in relation to the same period of the previous year.
In slightly more than three years, the peso has strengthened by more than 2 percent in relation to the dollar. In other words, it has not depreciated as used to be the case. The Mexican oil mix sells for 92 dollars a barrel. Furthermore, the economy is recovering; last year it grew 5 percent, almost the same as the U.S. economy. Inflation is lower than that of our neighbor to the north. The debt has grown less than in the three previous presidential administrations. The Stock Market Index has increased 31 percent in three years, four months. Even though the Banco de México upped the interest rate to 6.5 percent, it is still lower than the 8 percent it was at when we took office.
Foreign investment has been the highest in recent times. The Banco de México’s international reserves have increased by 15.5 percent. In 2022, as of yesterday, more than 1.40 trillion pesos (2) have entered the Treasury; that is, an increase of more than 131.28 billion pesos (3) compared to last year, an average growth of 2.5 in real terms.
We realize that it was a wise decision to renew the trade agreement with the United States and Canada. Mexico is now one of the most attractive countries in the world for investment, economic development, and trade. One figure to consider: despite the pandemic, in three years, agri-food exports to the United States rose from 47.4 billion dollars to 64 billion dollars, an increase of 35 percent.
In terms of infrastructure for national development and job creation, I would like to report that we completed the inauguration of the Felipe Angeles International Airport, an emblematic and high-quality project that allowed us to save 120 billion pesos (4). It was completed in record time with the efforts of construction workers, women and men, laborers, military engineers, and with the participation of national and foreign companies and suppliers.
I would like to add that military engineers are about to start the construction of the international airport in Tulum, Quintana Roo, which will be operational by the end of next year.
We have been guaranteeing the maintenance of the 40,500 kilometers of the country’s highway network with an investment of 44 billion pesos (5) up to the end of this year. This has also been done with the construction of new highways, expansion of highways, bridges, bypasses, overpasses, and rural roads. I would like to highlight that this year we will complete construction of the highway from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido; the La Pera-Tepoztlán-Cuautla highway; the highway from Estación Chontalpa to Malpaso, Chiapas, and the rural roads from Tamazula to Canelas, in Durango; from Badiraguato, Sinaloa to Guadalupe y Calvo, Chihuahua; the highway from La Yesca, in Nayarit, to Guadalupe y Calvo, Chihuahua; the roads from Tayoltita, Durango to San Ignacio, Sinaloa; from Tlapa to Marquelia, Guerrero; and from the El Cajón dam to Guadalupe Ocotán, Nayarit; as well as 130 concrete roads built by the people of Oaxaca.
In terms of trains, we are committed to reversing the tremendous damage inflicted on the country by the privatization of the railroads and the elimination of this form of passenger transportation that was part of the nation’s history.
The commitment is that at the end of our administration we will leave 2,600 kilometers of freight and passenger train lines in operation. The Guadalajara suburban train has already been completed and construction of the line to Tlajomulco, also in Jalisco, is about to begin. Next year we will complete train lines from Toluca to Observatorio, in Mexico City, and the Lechería line, which will allow passengers to reach the Felipe Ángeles International Airport in 45 minutes from the Buenavista station in the center of Mexico City.
Also under construction or to be put up for bidding are stretches of track totaling 1,000 kilometers, such as the reconstruction of the train tracks from Palenque to Coatzacoalcos, the Chontalpa Station to Dos Bocas branch line, the Isthmus railroad and the railway from Ixtepec to the border with Guatemala. Likewise, by the end of next year, the 1,500 kilometers of railroad track of the Maya Train will be completed and we will be initiating the operation of this important means of transportation that will benefit the population of five states in the southeastern part of the country.
In relation to the progress made in the energy sector, I would like to highlight the following:
After 14 years of continuous declines in production, we are now increasing oil output. This year, average crude oil production is over 1.75 million barrels per day. Since we took office, we have increased the country’s refining capacity. In addition, fuel imports have decreased by 48 percent during this time. This has been possible because six refineries have been refurbished; the Deer Park refinery in Texas was purchased; in July the new Dos Bocas refinery and the Olmeca refinery in Paraíso, Tabasco will be in operation, right, Rocío? And with the completion of the Tula coker plant, next year we will be self-sufficient in gasoline, diesel, and jet-fuel. In addition, in the last few days, due to the availability of funds, we decided to build, in 24 months, another coker plant in Salina Cruz, with which we will produce practically only gasoline and diesel, and not fuel oil. With this, we will obtain greater economic profitability and reduce polluting emissions.
Despite the pandemic, the economic crisis it provoked, the war in Russia and Ukraine, which has caused instability in the market and increases in oil and gas prices, we are moving forward.
In Mexico, the prices of these fuels and electricity rates have not risen, and this helps us to curb inflation, to strengthen the popular economy, and to guarantee the well-being of Mexicans, especially those most in need. For example, today it was announced that in March, the increase in energy prices in the United States reached 2.5 percent, while in our country, in the same month, they rose 0.6 percent.
In these times we are not only reviving the oil industry, but we are also fighting to recover the nation’s control over the electricity industry, both to guarantee the country’s energy sovereignty and to have a stable and reliable supply of electric power at fair prices, safe from terrible developments such as those that have occurred in Texas and in some European countries as a result of the savage privatizations of the electricity industry.
Let’s remember that the Federal Electricity Commission was founded by President Lázaro Cárdenas del Río and that President Adolfo López Mateos nationalized the electricity industry to bring electric power to the most remote towns and villages in Mexico and to the poorest households, those places and those families that private companies are not interested in serving, and that would be unable to pay the electricity bill if the corporate desire for profit and gain continued to prevail as opposed to providing the service for the benefit of the people.
A debate is currently underway on approving or rejecting our proposal to amend the Constitution so that the nation regains control of the country’s electricity industry. These are times of definition and not half-way measures. The legislators will have to decide if they assume the role of defenders of the interests of the private national and mainly foreign companies or if they choose, in fact, to be authentic representatives of the people and of the nation. The good thing is that soon, very soon, we will know who is who in such an important definition. I believe that next Sunday we will know.
In addition, it is important that you should know that we are already protected in case of a betrayal. This is key so that our people will remain calm about this. If there is a betrayal, we are already protected. A few days ago, the Supreme Court declared the Electric Industry Law that we initially proposed and that the Congress approved is constitutional. The legislation sought to cancel the perverse decisions imposed by the corrupt neoliberals of not considering the electric power produced in the hydroelectric plants of the Federal Electricity Commission as clean energy, with the blatant intention of giving preference to the use of the energies produced with gas in the foreign private thermoelectric plants such as those owned by Iberdrola.
In addition, I would like to report, also for the peace of mind of Mexicans, that if we do not reach the two thirds of the votes necessary to approve the constitutional reform on the electricity industry due to the boycott of the sell-out, right-wing conservative, reactionary legislators, I will immediately send, the following day, next Monday, an bill to Congress to amend the Mining Law, which only requires the approval of a simple majority of congressional deputies and senators for its approval. The bill will stipulate that lithium, a strategic mineral in future industrial and technological development, coveted by corporations and foreign governments, and I can vouch for this point, can only be exploited by the Mexican State through this reform, and will thus remain the absolute property of the people and the nation.
Faced with the problem of inflation, which affects the entire world, we have been able to prevent it from getting out of hand through self-sufficiency in and control of energy prices, but also, to a great extent, with the increased production of basic foodstuffs. It is a fact that guaranteed prices for growers, direct support to peasant farmers and fishermen, the free supply of fertilizers, and the Sembrando Vida (5) program have improved self-consumption and food production in the country.
Last year, corn, beans, rice, and wheat production increased by 2 million tons, compared to 2018. However, it is essential to allocate more support to the countryside for the benefit of its inhabitants and also to advance in our goal of being self-sufficient in food production. There are two key goals to guarantee our independence, our sovereignty: energy self-sufficiency and food self-sufficiency.
That is why we decided to increase the amount of assistance provided to one million peasant farmers in the Production for Wellbeing program. By the same token, the delivery of free fertilizers is underway in Guerrero, Puebla, Tlaxcala, and Morelos, as well as to producers in Chiapas, Oaxaca, Zacatecas, Durango, and Nayarit. In addition, dams and irrigation systems continue to be built to increase food production.
Today, as it has become clear, the State is an open promoter of productive activities for development, contrary to neoliberal criteria, and its participation in the fulfillment of its social responsibility is even more evident. The policy in pursuit of the people’s well-being and the fight against corruption are the essence of our governmental efforts. It is a mark of pride to reiterate and, above all, to make the principle that for the good of all, the poor must come first a reality.
I remember that a year ago we made a commitment that the universal stipend for senior citizens would be provided starting at age 65 and that the amount given would gradually increase until it had doubled at the beginning of 2024. Today I can say that we are fulfilling this commitment. There are currently more than 10.16 million senior citizens who are receiving their stipend; since the announcement in March last year, 2.3 million senior citizens between 65 and 67 years of age have been added to the rolls. Likewise, from then to date, the bimonthly stipend rose from 2,700 pesos to 3,850 pesos (7), a 42 percent increase; but not only that, all the Social Welfare Programs have been expanded and this year 25 million Mexican families will receive direct benefits.
In other words, 70 percent of the country’s families receive at least one direct financial support from the national budget; and in the poorest states, such as Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, almost 100 percent of households now receive such benefits.
The greatest challenge in our aim to establish a true social welfare state is to make the right to health a reality, and that is where we now are. Now that the COVID pandemic has subsided, the health sector, as we did when facing the pandemic, is jointly implementing a plan to guarantee quality medical care and free medicines to the entire population.
The model we are applying is that of IMSS-Bienestar (8), whose strengthening and expansion consists of improving the facilities of medical units, clinics and hospitals and having general practitioners, specialists, and sufficient health personnel on call. In addition, there will be doctors in the clinics centers permanently, which includes weekends when people also get sick, on Saturdays and Sundays. Furthermore, clinical analyses and 100 percent of the supply of medicines will be guaranteed. At the same time, we will regularize the job status and workplace benefits of 80,000 health-care workers.
We have already taken inventories in 14 states. In doing so, we can know exactly what is needed in each clinic, community, municipality, and region. The new operational plan has already begun in Nayarit, which will allow us to evaluate results and voluntarily apply the methodology of bringing local practices into line with federal standards in all of the country’s states. I am not talking about the budget because for this plan there is no financial ceiling, there is no limit, we have all the money we need.
In the area of education, we continue to expand coverage and improve the quality of schooling. There are four priorities: to attend to teachers with respect and fairness, to never again offend them, to never again ignore our teachers; to update textbook content; to grant scholarships at all educational levels to students from poor families, and to maintain educational facilities in good condition by providing a budget to parent-teacher associations and to students’ guardians.
Next month we will reach an agreement with teacher union representatives to increase educators’ income in real terms. To date, with the participation of teachers and educators, the contents of 97 textbooks have been revised, while 172 titles and 27 complementary printed materials have been made available to improve the knowledge of educators and students in all subjects. In addition, 11 million scholarships have been granted to students from the preschool to doctorate level, an unprecedented figure. Never seen before in the history of Mexico.
Currently, 68,000 schools have directly received a budget for the maintenance of their facilities and this year the number will increase to 105,000. In addition, the amount the schools receive will be greater. This involves the direct delivery of budgetary resources to parents’ associations for the maintenance of schools; they will now receive more because these parents’ associations will also decide how to use the funds that were previously provided to 20,000 schools through intermediaries and were handled without transparency in what was known as the Full-Time Schools program.
I would like to add that the reading promotion program continues to expand. The Fondo de Cultura Económica publishing house alone has printed 92 titles in almost 4.66 million copies. Ecological, recreational, and historical parks are being created or are in the process of being built. For example, Lake Texcoco was declared a Natural Protected Area; the Jaguar Park is being planned in an area of more than 1,000 hectares in Tulum, Quintana Roo; Chapultepec Forest is being expanded, in the fourth section of this historic park, Chapultepec Forest. And we are about to inaugurate the cultural and tourist center of Islas Marías, that prison that is now going to be used for the enjoyment and recreation of Mexicans. This Mother Island is going to be coordinated, administered by a governor of the Ministry of the Navy, two ferries are already being acquired to leave Mazatlán and San Blas, in Nayarit, to the Islas Marías and arrive in two and a half hours and be able to visit this natural wonder, this hell that is now a paradise and that will remind us a lot of our history.
Thanks to our convictions and perseverance in understanding and addressing the problem of public insecurity and violence, slowly but surely we have been advancing toward the goal of living free of fear and dread, in strengthened family environments and in a society characterized by justice and peace.
It is important to emphasize that those who only think, because that is how it is, in terms of coercive measures or force to face the scourge of violence and obviously do not believe, as we do, that peace is the fruit of justice, the most they conceded to us, before and now in the debate, in order to be able to largely ignore us, is to accept that perhaps addressing the origin of the problem would work, but that the results would take a long time to be seen and based on this excuse or pretext nothing was ever undertaken to address the causes of violence. There is the example of young people, the most they did was to derogatorily call them “ninis”, those who neither study nor work, never launch a program to attend to them; they talked how at the entrances to villages, at the gas stations, there was the presence of “halconcitos” (9) and that was part of the narrative. But they never did anything for those young people to have the opportunity to study and to have the right to work guaranteed.
Fortunately, from day one we went to the root of the problem and began to apply programs aimed at benefiting workers -and there is proof of what I am saying- the unemployed, abandoned peasant farmers, young people, the elderly and poor families, all of which has now enabled us to face the serious problem we inherited of public insecurity and violence with good results.
If we had not acted as we did from the beginning with the Well-Being Programs, we might not now have even the slight decrease in homicides, which year after year had increased to reach regrettable historical highs.
For this reason, even though we work every day to deal with the effects and consequences in coordinated fashion, with the professionalism, discipline and honesty of the members of the Armed Forces and the members of the Public Security and Citizen Protection Cabinet, in spite of all that, what is most important has been the attention paid to the demands and needs of the people.
It may take us more time to pacify the country, but the safest formula is to address the bottom line. For example, not forgetting the youth, guaranteeing them spaces to study and work to prevent them from being caught up in crime in exchange for money, fame, or cheap luxury. As is well known, the search for these momentary or fleeting pleasures almost always ends in greater sadness and unhappiness. So the real confrontation with the heads of the criminal gangs, gang bosses, the real, the deep going, the important battle is to prevent them from taking young people, and leave the capos to themselves, with their lieutenants and hired killers, facing the authorities but without a reserve army to commit crime. Take away their bases, take away the youth.
That is why we are attending to young people, with the Youth Building the Future program, creating jobs, making the right to education a reality, fighting poverty, strengthening cultural, moral, and spiritual values, and also, of course, acting with professionalism, perseverance, coordination, and respect for human rights to guarantee public safety. And something very important, not allowing corruption or impunity.
The following results are the fruits of this joint work deployed on a daily basis. In the time we have been in office, fuel theft, the so-called huachicol, was reduced by 95 percent; homicides, by 3. 5 percent; vehicle theft, by 40 percent; kidnapping, by 41 percent; home burglaries, by 29 percent; business robberies, by 23 percent; muggings, by 22 percent; robberies of bus and truck drivers, by 31 percent; and thieves holding up all passengers in public transportation, by 33 percent. In sum, out of 12 crimes considered of greatest impact, only three have posted increases: femicides, which grew by 15 percent, and I repeat that possibly previously it was not classified as it is now; and extortion, which increased by 40 percent, and individual robberies in public transportation, by 22 percent.
All this effort to achieve peace has been carried out without human rights violations, without the involvement of federal forces in massacres, without committing torture, without forced disappearances and extrajudicial executions, as was the previously the case. Here I would like to highlight the importance of the creation of the National Guard, which now has 113,000 members, operating from 233 barracks, also built by military engineers in almost all regions of the country.
I would like to express my sincere and fraternal acknowledgement to the Armed Forces. Without the loyalty of the ministries of Defense and the Navy and without their dedication to the people, we would not have, and I say this sincerely, the same results in public security, development and social welfare. With the Armed Forces we help the population affected by the pandemic, as is common knowledge; we help when the civilian population are victims of hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, fires, and other disasters, and with them we contain organized crime and promote the reconstruction of security and peace in the regions of the country most affected by criminal violence.
Thank you, Admiral José Rafael Ojeda Durán; thank you, General Luis Cresencio Sandoval González; thank you Rosa Icela Rodríguez; I would also like to thank all the members of the Cabinet and the institutions of the government who have risen to the occasion. We are dealing with a work team of women and men who have proven to be authentic public servants, hardworking, honest, and something that is very important, with deep social convictions, with humanist convictions.
Two days ago, for the first time, the constitutionally codified presidential recall referendum took place and the majority of the people voted in favor of my continuing in government and concluding my mandate until the end of September 2024.
I will not go into detail because we know the importance of this extraordinary exercise in participatory democracy that reaffirms the sovereignty of the people and forces the rulers not only to command, but above all to obey and serve.
With all my heart, I would like to thank the people for their trust and support because without it, without the support of the people, we could not resist the onslaught of corrupt conservatives nor achieve what is most important, the beautiful ideal of continuing to transform the country, inspired by our exemplary history, by the legacy left to us by our heroes and by the cultures of the depths of Mexico, from which emanate the best lessons of work, freedom, justice, democracy, honesty, dignity, and love for others.
In the time we have left, two and a half years, a little less, I hope that as it has been the case up until now, with the support of the people, we will continue to move toward the welfare state that will allow us to eradicate hunger and live free of misery. We have the task of guaranteeing social security from birth to death; that no one in Mexico is born condemned to poverty, without justice, without a future, that the broadest opportunities are opened to move up the social ladder through study and work, without abandoning our identity, the pride of our origin, and that the right to happiness becomes a reality.
I think there are two fundamental points. To continue promoting with words and deeds the revolution of consciences, which is the most effective way to confront the conservative and reactionary thinking of our opponents; And not only for that, but also so that the conquests of our times become irreversible, so that everything we achieve for the benefit of the people will not be reversed, and the best guarantee, the best insurance, is the change in mentality of our people because they will be in charge of defending those conquests for their own benefit. Furthermore, we must not forget that we must seek not only material well-being but also the welfare of the soul, because “man does not live by bread alone”.
There is no doubt that individuals need well-being, we all need to live well. No one can be happy without work, food, health, housing, or any other basic satisfaction. A man in poverty thinks only of how to survive before engaging in political, scientific, artistic, or spiritual endeavors. Friedrich Engels explained it masterfully in his speech at the grave of Karl Marx, explaining that:
“Just as Darwin discovered the law of development of organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.”
I’ll end the quotation there. But the meaning of life, I maintain, should not be reduced solely to the attainment of material possessions, what we possess or accumulate. A person without adherence to a code of principles, without adherence to an ideal, to a doctrine, is unlikely to achieve happiness. In some cases, to succeed at all costs and to do so unscrupulously leads to an empty life, to an unhappy life. Thus, we should always seek a balance between the material and the spiritual; to see to it that no one lacks what is indispensable for survival and at the same time to cultivate the best feelings and attitudes toward our fellow men and women.
In short, let us never cease to act spiritually in our public and political work, nor must we ever set aside humanism and brother and sisterhood.
Thank you very much.
National Palace, April 12, 2022
- US$ 726.68
- US$ 710.47 billion
- US$ 6.62 billion
- US$ 6.06 billion
- US$ 2.22 billion
- Sembrando Vida is a priority social program aimed at eradicating rural poverty and addressing environmental degradation.
- US$ 136.53 to US$ 194.69
- IMSS-Bienestar is a new health-care program designed to provide universal and free of charge medical care and pharmaceuticals to the entire population.
- Halconitos are unemployed youth who act as spies or informants for organized crime, passing information along on police movements, etc.
TRANSLATED BY PEDRO GELLERT F.