Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Carlos Urzúa, former finance minister, dies at 68

Carlos Urzúa, finance minister for seven months at the start of the current federal government’s six-year term, died of a heart attack at his Mexico City home on Monday.

His family issued a statement confirming his death, saying that “he leaves a significant mark on our family [and] friends and in the field of finance and economy.”

Urzúa served as President López Obrador’s first finance minister, but quit shortly into his term. (Moisés Pablo/Cuartoscuro)

Urzúa, who was 68, served as President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s first finance minister, but resigned on July 9, 2019 — just seven months and eight days after the government took office.

In his resignation letter to the president, Urzúa said that “discrepancies over economic matters” in the government “were plentiful” and “some of them were because … public policy decisions have been taken without sufficient foundation.”

He also said that the appointment of officials to his ministry who “have no knowledge of public finances” was “unacceptable,” adding that they were hired by “influential people in the current government with a clear conflict of interest.”

In an interview shortly after he resigned, Urzúa said he disagreed with the government’s decisions to cancel the previous federal administration’s partially built airport near Mexico City and to build an oil refinery on the Tabasco coast.

Most recently, Urzúa joined opposition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez as part of her campaign for the Mexican presidency this year. (X)

Born in Aguascalientes in 1955, Urzúa studied mathematics at an undergraduate level at the Tec. de Monterrey university and subsequently completed a master’s degree in the same subject at the National Polytechnic Institute. He later obtained a doctorate in economics from the University of Wisconsin System.

Before becoming federal finance minister, he worked as an academic and served as finance minister in the Mexico City government for a period of around 2 1/2 years when López Obrador was mayor in the early 2000s. Urzúa also worked as a consultant for international organizations such as the World Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

After leaving the federal government, he returned to academia and more recently joined the campaign of opposition presidential candidate Xóchitl Gálvez. The day before his death, he attended the “March for Our Democracy” rally in Mexico City, which was organized by civil society groups that support or are affiliated with Mexico’s main opposition parties.

Gálvez said in a radio interview on Tuesday that Mexico had lost a “great Mexican.”

He was “a Mexican who had the acuity to tell you how things were and how they should be,” she added.

For his part, López Obrador conveyed his condolences to Urzúa’s family at his morning press conference.

“I’m very sorry about his death,” he said before acknowledging that there were “differences” between him and his former finance minister.

With reports from Reforma, El Financiero and López-Dóriga

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