The leader of the Pemex workers’ union was conspicuous by his absence at celebrations yesterday to mark the 81st anniversary of the expropriation of the Mexican oil industry.
For years, Carlos Romero Deschamps has attended the official expropriation anniversary ceremony to give the president of the day a pat on the back.
Union members would also chant, applaud loudly and generally show their support for the president and his government in an animated way.
But the first ceremony presided over by President López Obrador at the Miguel Hidalgo refinery in Tula, Hidalgo, was notably different.
Instead of union leaders and members – the former were not invited – government administration officials made up most of the audience at the ceremony, and their reaction to the proceedings was far more reserved.
Another difference to past ceremonies was the presence of banners that called for an end to corruption at the state oil company, an audit of the Pemex workers’ union and the imprisonment of Deschamps, who has been accused of involvement in organized crime, illicit enrichment, money laundering, tax evasion and fraud.
During the event, López Obrador gave an overview of the history of Pemex up to the start of what he calls the “neoliberal period,” which began in 1982 with Miguel de la Madrid’s presidency and continued up to the end of Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration last year.
During the 36-year-period, the president charged, Mexico’s petroleum industry was destroyed.
López Obrador, however, has pledged to “rescue” the energy sector and a month ago announced a US $5.5-billion bailout for the debt-laden state oil company.
The government also implemented an anti-fuel theft strategy this year which won widespread public support even though it caused widespread fuel shortages and yesterday Energy Secretary Rocío Nahle announced details about the tendering process for a new oil refinery on the Tabasco coast.
Mexico’s oil industry was nationalized by former president Lázaro Cárdenas in 1938 and closed off completely to foreign and private companies until the previous federal government ended Pemex’s monopoly with its 2013 energy reform.
Source: El Universal (sp)