By KELIN DILLON
After a brutal rebuff of his constitutional energy reform by opposition members of Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies this past April, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is on a quest for vengeance against these so-called “traitors of the nation” – a warpath, it seems, that will now put opponents to the energy reform, both politicians or investors, under the potential threat of winding up in prison, all for those daring to go against the self-proclaimed pinnacle of democracy, López Obrador himself.
The controversial reform – known as the Bartlett Law after Manuel Bartlett, the head of Mexico’s state-owned electricity company, the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) – would have seen all of Mexico’s electricity and energy to give undue priority to the CFE over any foreign investment, private companies or clean energies, an initiative that drew widespread pushback from U.S. politicians and international energy pundits alike.
According to a piece published by the Wall Street Journal’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady on Sunday, May 1, AMLO’s actions have been taken right out of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s handbook, characterizing his attempts to muzzle and prosecute the opposition as “Putin-style thuggery.”
But considering López Obrador’s well-documented admiration for the Russian politician – a man near-universally despised at the moment for his pivotal role in ongoing geopolitical events – AMLO may just take O’Grady’s words as a compliment.
“López Obrador doesn’t care about growth and is trying to tear down independent institutions because they stand in the way of his power to dictate the political economy,” wrote O’Grady.
“Those who disagree with him are branded greedy and corrupt. Exhibit A is the president’s recent threat to jail his political opponents and prosecute investors who don’t get on board with his energy agenda … Criminal complaints lodged with the attorney general can result in years of investigation, harassment and even preventive detention.”
AMLO has already tried fighting back against the Chamber of Deputies, introducing new electoral reforms that would reduce plurinominal deputies and theoretically put his party, the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), at the full majority necessary to push through reforms, much like the controversial electric legislation, into law.
In her column, O’Grady urged U.S. President Joe Biden to take action against AMLO’s all-out malevolence against opposition deputies and the private sector, highlighting López Obrador’s public threats to criminally penalize companies which have dared to question the failed reform.
“There is no way to sugarcoat the reality that the Mexican government, led by Mr. López Obrador, is practicing extortion,” concluded O’Grady, putting in plain English what AMLO has repeatedly attempted to prevent the Mexican press from conveying to the public: Under López Obrador’s administration, democracy is as arbitrary a concept as the executive’s constantly fluctuating temperament.