SAN LAZARO: THE VOICE OF PRIVATE INTERESTS PREVAILS
EDITORIAL FROM THE DAILY NEWSPAPER “LA JORNADA” ON SUNDAY’S VOTE IN THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES ON PRESIDENT ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR’S ELECTRICITY INDUSTRY REFORM
The discussion of the constitutional amendments on the electricity industry, which took place in the Legislative Palace of San Lazaro, was derailed by the opposition coalition Va por Mexico, comprised of the PAN, PRI, and PRD
At the beginning of the session, congressional deputies of the alliance that supports the reform challenged the presence of legislators Margarita Zavala (PAN) and Edna Díaz (PRD) in the vote, due to conflicts of interest. In the case of Zavala, because her husband received millions of pesos from the transnational company Iberdrola, one of the main beneficiaries of the legislation currently in effect on the electricity industry and for Díaz because of her links with the private interests’ operator Paolo Salerno.
After the Political Coordination Board (Jucopo) dismissed these challenges, a tense and marathon legislative session began, during which the opponents of the reform demonstrated their lack of arguments for rejecting it. One after another, the opposition congressional deputies took the floor to present demonstrably false accusations, such as that the proposed amendments to the Constitution would impose an alleged monopoly in electric power generation in the hands of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), that the reforms would harm the environment, that electricity rates would become more expensive, or that the new wording of the Constitution would violate the terms of the North American trade agreement (USMCA). In addition, PAN and PRI legislators complained that their proposals, such as codifying access to electricity as a human right, had not been taken into account in the drafting of the bill being voted on.
The fallaciousness of such statements is obvious to anyone who has taken the time to read the text of the reform. It provides ample guarantees for the participation of private companies (46 percent of the market), so that the monopoly argument is untenable. The amendments stipulate the orientation of the electricity industry toward a transition in energy sources, which means that the allegedly ecological allegations are unfounded. The proposed legislation includes the distribution of electricity to favor municipalities and agricultural producers and establishes the right of the entire population to access electricity an essential condition making their fundamental rights effective.
In addition, the proposals that the opponents wanted to raise were aired in the exhaustive Open Parliament held in February and March and in the Jucopo meeting in which the congressional deputies of the governing coalition indicated that the 12 points put forward by the Va por México coalition would be included in the resolution submitted for a vote.
Over and over, the legislators of Morena and the PT through concrete examples rebutted the inaccuracies and simple fallacies of the opposition, but the latter remained faithful to the script. It was thus demonstrated that there are no substantial rational arguments against the electricity industry reform and that the only real reason to reject it is the defense of private interests that have achieved astronomical profits thanks to the terms introduced in the Constitution by the 2013 Peña administration’s energy reform and that for the CFE -that is, for the public treasury- meant 3 trillion pesos in losses between 2016 and 2018.
The motion did not achieve the two thirds of the votes required for any changes to be introduced in the Constitution.
As we can see, transnational interests have spoken through the mouths of the congressional deputies of the Va por México coalition, with all that this means: a high political cost for them and an undesirable delay in the full recovery of energy sovereignty and the viability and stability of the country’s electricity sector.