President López Obrador predicted Thursday that the government will reach an agreement with Iberdrola, a Spanish energy company that is reportedly canceling a US $1.2-billion power plant project in Veracruz.
The mayor of Tuxpan told the news agency Bloomberg and the newspaper Reforma that representatives of the firm told him that it was canceling its combined-cycle plant in the city because in nine months it has been unable to reach a natural gas supply agreement with the state-owned Federal Electricity Commission (CFE)
Veracruz Governor Cuitláhuac García tweeted on Wednesday that the Tuxpan plant will go ahead but the CFE will operate it.
But speaking at his regular news conference on Thursday morning, López Obrador said there is no official word that Iberdrola is canceling the project.
He said that he has received a letter from the company in which it expresses its desire to reach an agreement with the government and indicates that it wishes to continue investing in Mexico. López Obrador said that he had forwarded the letter to Energy Minister Rocío Nahle and CFE director Manuel Bartlett.
“There will be an agreement, the letter is for that purpose. They [Iberdrola] want dialogue, they’re even asking me for a meeting [but] I want the energy minister and the CFE director to attend to them first,” he said.
However, the president stressed that the government won’t sign an agreement that is unfavorable to Mexico and its people.
“Enough is enough, let it be well understood, let it be heard loud and far: Mexico is not a land to be conquered. They’re not going to come to loot us, that’s over. We have to look after the wealth of the Mexican people,” López Obrador said.
He also renewed his criticism of Iberdrola for hiring former government officials soon after they left office.
“It’s a disgrace that they took the energy minister of former president [Vicente] Fox or [Felipe] Calderón to work at the company,” López Obrador said.
He also noted that Calderón, president from 2006 to 2012, accepted a board position with a United States-based subsidiary of Iberdrola after he left office.
“Imagine a president of our republic, who after the end of his government became part of the Iberdrola board. It’s a disgrace!”
Calderón responded on Twitter that he didn’t take up a position with the company until four years after he left office and accused the president of attempting to divert attention from his government’s poor management of the coronavirus pandemic and associated economic crisis.
López Obrador and Calderón have a long history of antagonism, and the former blames the latter –and other past presidents – for all manner of problems his government faces, including corruption and insecurity.
A staunch nationalist, the president also accuses past “neoliberal” governments of allowing foreign and private companies to enter Mexico’s energy sector on terms that were unfair to the state. He claims that they neglected the state-owned CFE and Pemex, leaving them in ruins.
López Obrador has pledged to “rescue” the state-run utilities, and his administration has taken steps to limit the participation of private companies in both the electricity and oil sectors.