By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) presented a list on Monday, Feb. 11, of nine high-ranking former government officials – including former President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa — who he said either worked for or collaborated with foreign companies in the electricity sector and contributed to á gradual destruction of the state-owned National Electricity Commission (CFE) that led to the current exorbitant price of electricity in Mexico.
Speaking in his daily early morning press conference at the National Palace, during which he outlined his plan to restructure the CFE, AMLO said that Mexicans pay some of the highest light rates in the world – higher than those in the United States.
“We are going to reveal what has been happening in the generation of our electric energy, the deterioration of the CFE, how a public company has eroded and how all of this has affected Mexican consumers, who now have to pay more for light than they did at the start of the initiative to privative the sector,” the president said.
López Obrador went on to say that the privatization process was intended to make electricity production more efficient and affordable, but instead led to higher consumer prices and losses for the industry, leaving the CFE in near bankruptcy.
About half of the electricity consumed in Mexico is produced by the CFE, and the rest comes from private-sector corporations.
AMLO said that during the administrations of previous presidents dating back as far as Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who served from 1988 to 1994 and began a parade of neoliberal Mexican heads of state that would continue up until AMLO took office in December last year), government officials cashed in on the privatization process to milk “juicy” personal business deals.
The president then called on the current head of the CFE, Manuel Bartlett Díaz (a former Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, stalwart who served as secretary of the Interior, of SeGob, and governor of Puebla before joining the Labor Party and aligning himself with AMLO’s National Regeneration Movement, or Morena), to present the list of ex-government officials who had “played a role in the destruction of the Federal Electricity Commission.”
Topping the list that Bartlett Díaz read was Calderón Hinojosa, who served as former President Vicente Fox’s energy secretary before becoming president in 2006.
Bartlett said that Calderón’s participation in the U.S-based energy investment firm Avangrid four years after his term constituted a “conflict of interests,” an allegation that Calderón has categorically denied.
Also on the list was José Córdova Montoya, who served as Salinas de Gortari’s right-hand man and, some say, was the puppet master of his administration.
Bartlett said that Córdova Montoya had participated in the electrical industry business and owns a private energy company.
Also on the list were Jesús Reyes Heroles Gonzalez Garza, head of Pemex under former Presidents Ernesto Zedillo and Calderón; Carlos Ruiz Sacristán, communications and transportation secretary under Zedillo; Luis Tellez, who was Zedillo’s energy secretary; Alfredo Elías Ayub, who worked for Calderón, Zedillo and Salinas; Georgina Kessel Martínez, energy secretary under Calderón; Yordi Herrera, an energy consultant; and Alejandro Fleming, who also wax an energy consultant under Calderón.
AMLO said, as of now, no official charges had been made against the abovementioned officials, but added that nobody is above the law and that there could be charges filed against them in the near future.
Meanwhile, AMLO said that his government is now working on a new law proposal that would forbid all former government employees from working in private-sector companies for the first 10 years after they leave their official posts.