By KELIN DILLON
Just one day after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) controversial electricity reform was blocked from passing by opposition members of the Chamber of Deputies, López Obrador returned with a new initiative – legislation nationalizing Mexico’s natural lithium supply – for the parliamentary chamber to vote on during its Monday, April 18, session.
Never one to shy away from expressing his opinion, López Obrador made his displeasure with the vote¿s results abundantly clear during his Monday morning press conference, physically applauding the deputies who voted in his favor while admonishing the opposition for being “traitors of the nation.”
“A group of legislators who, instead of defending the interests of the nation, became outspoken defenders of foreign companies that are dedicated to stealing – and these deputies supported the looters,” said AMLO at the time. “What happened is very unfortunate, although it is not unexpected.”
While the now-defunct electricity reform – which faced repeated criticism from energy sector experts, environmental analysts, foreign investment, and even the U.S. government itself – would have been a constitutional change, and thus would have required a two-thirds majority vote to pass through the Chamber of Deputies, the new lithium initiative needed a simple majority to pass – something AMLO’s National Regeneration Movement (Morena) and its allies already possessed.
Notwithstanding, the opposition deputies made their disapproval known by walking out during the rhetorical debate over the bill.
The lithium reform, which passed in a fast-track vote in the Chamber of Deputies Monday and is now awaiting passage in the Senate, declares all discovery, exploration and mining of the resource to be nationalized so that “no concessions, licenses, contracts, permits, assignments or authorizations in this matter will be granted” to foreign companies operating out of Mexico, leaving the lithium supply firmly in the hands of the Mexican government and keeping it “reserved for the exclusive benefit of the people of Mexico.”