Anti-colonial Memory and AMLO’s Energy Policy | Climate Change
At the virtual climate summit organized by US President Joe Biden on April 22, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez has made a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Obrador (AMLO) defended the country’s continued use of fossil fuels.
He shared that Mexico had discovered three large hydrocarbon deposits, but tried to describe it as a joy, rather than frightening summit participants.
The President said: “Although we have discovered the three largest hydrocarbon reserves, the oil we discovered will basically be destined to meet the fuel demand of the domestic market and will end the practice of crude oil export.” By doing so, he added: ” We will help avoid excessive use of fossil fuels.”
Although AMLO’s speech at the summit caused widespread criticism from many people, but many viewed it as a “declaration against clean energy,” the Mexican leader’s stance on fossil fuels is more than just a flagrant disregard of climate emergencies.
Advocating “Energy Sovereignty”
At home and abroad, AMLO has long attributed Mexico’s dependence on large amounts of oil and gas to a crisis of “energy sovereignty”. In response to this crisis, he strengthened state-owned companies in the power generation and fossil fuel industries, and also prioritized the use of fossil fuels. These reforms are part of AMLO’s active efforts to (re)nationalize the country’s energy and fossil fuels since 2019.
The idea of ??”energy sovereignty” has its own source In Mexico’s anti-colonial struggle, the country expelled American and British exploiting companies and nationalized its fossil fuel industry to maintain its sovereignty over resources.
By the beginning of the 20th century, American and British companies had begun to exploit oil reserves in Mexico. Although these companies had expanded Mexico’s oil production to second only to the United States by 1921, the wealth gained from the oil extraction flowed back to the United States and the United Kingdom, and it had little effect on improving Mexico’s economic conditions. This is a typical colonial relationship in Mexico. Development.
The key positions in these foreign companies are only British and American nationals. In addition, a Mexican worker received half the salary and poor housing for doing the same job as a foreign worker.
Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution of 1917 gave the Mexican government the right to deprive oil and other resources. However, due to strong resistance from oil companies supported by the US State Department, the implementation of this article proved impossible.
The presidency of Lazaro Cardenas (1934-1940) marked a major shift: he oversaw large-scale land redistribution and supported workers’ right to strike. Regarding the oil issue, the Mexican authorities under his management supported the striking Mexican workers and demanded that the oil companies raise wages and benefits, but the oil companies refused to comply.
In response, Cardenas used Article 27 and nationalized foreign oil companies in Mexico on March 18, 1938, which led to the establishment of the state-owned PEMEX, which monopolized fossil fuels. Around this time, Cardenas also created a state-owned CFE, responsible for the generation and distribution of electrical energy.
The move triggered large-scale celebrations throughout Mexico, including a six-hour parade in Mexico City. Although the United States considered military intervention in nationalization, it chose not to intervene because World War II had already begun and the United States needed allies.
In Mexico, the nationalization of foreign energy companies is a notable event not only for the country, but also for the history of global colonization: Mexico is about to become part of the “third world” group, the country has withstood imperialism Ruled and won. Similar claims for sovereignty elsewhere have very different results. The Iranian coup planned by the United States in 1953 changed the country’s development trajectory forever after the Iranian government nationalized Anglo American.
Despite all the successes achieved through nationalization, the successive presidents of Mexico in recent decades have gradually opened up the energy sector. This has led Mexico to rely on the United States and other countries to import energy despite having its own fossil fuel reserves.
Pena Nieto, the immediate predecessor of AMLO, completed the liberalization of the energy sector and invited foreign companies to exploit Mexico’s oil reserves. The reason he called for doing this is to make the department more efficient and solve the large-scale corruption in PEMEX.
However, Nieto’s actions did not help to resolve corruption-officials of his government, such as Emilio Lozoya (Emilio Lozoya) defendant Bribery from private companies bidding on energy contracts.
In addition, many Mexicans, including AMLO, believe that the liberalization of the energy sector is a return to the destructive mining of the pre-1938 era.
In this case, it is easy to see the reasons behind AMLO’s remarks on “energy sovereignty” and insist on ending the country’s dependence on energy at all costs. Nevertheless, in the face of an increasingly urgent global climate emergency, the Mexican President’s commitment to the use of fossil fuels should still be strictly evaluated.
Turn a blind eye to climate emergencies
Western government’s criticism of AMLO’s recent actions Official, Lobby group especially Western media – Has been intense and follows two themes. The first is market orientation. For example, the United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC), which is committed to maintaining the neoliberal order, expressed concern that AMLO’s energy policy may undermine the “confidence” of foreign investors and prevent Mexico from obtaining the investment it desperately needs. In addition, it raises concerns that such policies will lead to unfair monopolies-perhaps because in this case, the monopoly will not be controlled by the USCC.
The second type of criticism is environmentally oriented, so AMLO has been criticized for its “fixed fossil fuels.” This criticism is reasonable, but outside of Mexico, especially in Western countries, this criticism completely ignores the goal that AMLO is trying to achieve by supporting fossil fuels: energy sovereignty.
When analyzing and criticizing AMLO’s energy policy, Western media and government officials refused to recognize Mexico’s long history of colonial exploitation, which reflects the historical forgetfulness and hypocrisy of the West.
However, there are also clear signs that AMLO is trying to classify his actions as anti-neoliberalism and anti-colonialism by invoking “energy sovereignty”, but he has not taken the climate crisis seriously, and his policies have not helped to establish neoliberalism. Alternative. .
While copying the unsustainable, capitalist way of resource extraction in the West by burning fossil fuels, how can AMLO be anti-colonial or anti-neo-colonial?
AMLO’s energy policy is clearly oil-oriented, and there is no sign of integrating renewable energy. The 2020-2024 National Energy Plan states that to achieve “sustainable energy self-sufficiency”, it is necessary to increase hydrocarbon exploration, infrastructure and processing capabilities. It envisages the realization of energy sovereignty through hydrocarbons and “clean energy”, which includes natural gas and nuclear energy.
However, the “energy sovereignty” achieved through hydrocarbon exploration and investment can only last until the end of the fossil fuel storage period.
Mexico’s known oil and gas reserves will last only 9.3 years, while world reserves are estimated to last 40 to 50 years. Therefore, the energy sovereign life of AMLO may be as short as ten years.
In addition, from the perspective of AMLO’s overall environmental policy, it is hard to say that his government has not denied the climate crisis. Among the latest commitments to the Paris Agreement submitted in 2020, Mexico has completely abandoned its 2015 commitments and will obtain 35% of its energy needs from clean energy by 2024, and use 43% of it by 2030. energy. Changed three times in two years. After the former secretary Víctor Toledo (Víctor Toledo) was found resigned, he was found to have said in the leaked audio that the AMLO government had no “clear goals, full of contradictions and different interests” in terms of environmental policy. The department’s budget has been cut, and the federal budget has increased funding for oil refineries and environmentally hazardous tourism projects such as Tren Maya. In addition, according to the “Climate Transparency” group (PDF format), about 73% of the country’s climate change budget is used to transport natural gas.
Finally, AMLO associates corruption in the energy sector with early government privatization and neoliberal policies.
Although this accusation has many advantages, AMLO is strengthening PEMEX and CFE. It seems that these institutions have not been flooded with corruption, and it seems that there is no need to take strict measures to deal with this corruption.
“Anti-corruption” in AMLO’s administration is more about words than actions. For example, Carlos Romero Deschamps, the former leader of the PEMEX union, “voluntarily agreed to stop working”, and despite being under investigation into corruption, left with a staggering pension in March. Similarly, Manuel Bartlett, the general manager of CFE, was accused of illegally obtaining property worth more than $42 million and hiding it in public records. He received the full support of AMLO and was eventually acquitted. .
All in all, although the fate of the Mexicans and the entire human race is in the balance due to the climate crisis, we have seen the arrogance of Western (new) imperialism on the one hand, and they don’t mind admitting, let alone apologizing for – they are to Mexico Of exploitation. On the other hand, we have post-colonial heads of state such as AMLO whose anti-colonial and anti-neolberal rhetoric does not match the climate policy and the urgent needs of the people.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.