By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) officially declared the demise of the country’s 37-year neoliberal era on Sunday, March 17.
Speaking at the close of a two-day forum titled “Planning Together the Transformation of Mexico” at the National Palace, the president said that the age of “pillaging, anti-populist and submissive economic policies” was over and a new era of more just and inclusive policies has begun.
He then called on the his cabinet and the citizens of Mexico to help build a new, more-inclusive post-neoliberal model “from the bottom up.”
That model, AMLO said, should be based on the values of his government’s National Plan for Development 2019-2024.
The president went on to say that the foundations of that plan are “integrity and honesty, which are two separate things.”
He said that there should never again be a rich government prevailing over a poor population, and that the concept of extravagance within a policy of austerity was now vanquished.
“A (free) market (economy) cannot substitute for the state,” he said, in clear opposition to the neoliberal practice of reforms privatizing state-owned enterprises.
“For the good of all, we put our poor people first,” he said.
Mexico’s so-called neoliberal period began during the presidency of Miguel de la Madrid following the debt crisis of 1982 and continued through the administration of AMLO’s processor Enrique Peña Nieto.
It included structural adjustment programs and a reduction in government spending, as well as an opening of the Mexican economy and practices to make national companies more globally competitive.
It also included the opening of some areas of the state-owned energy sector, most notably the now-heavily indebted and financially moribund oil giant Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) under Peña Nieto.
AMLO said that he fully rejected the concepts of neoliberalism in favor of a more egalitarian and just approach that favors the nation’s poor over business, industry and foreign interests.