Mexican President denounces opposition for rejecting electricity bill | Political news

The bill backed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador sought to give utilities 54% of the electricity market.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador slammed opposition lawmakers for rejecting a planned constitutional overhaul of the country’s electricity system, which had emerged at the center of diplomatic tensions with the United States.

Lopez Obrador has spent months defending the bill that would have strengthened state control over Mexico’s electricity market, but opposition lawmakers united on Sunday night to defeat legislation that required a two-thirds majority to pass.

“I believe that yesterday was an act of treason against Mexico committed by a group of legislators who, instead of defending the interests of the people…became the absolute defenders of foreign companies,” Lopez Obrador said during the a regular press conference on Monday.

The changes would have allowed the state-owned Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) to hold at least 54% of the electricity market – a move the government says is needed to prevent surging electricity prices. electricity price.

But Lopez Obrador’s plans had alarmed the United States and Canada and prompted warnings that Mexico risked violating its trade commitments by favoring state entities heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

Opposition lawmakers react after an electricity sector reform failed to pass the lower house of Congress, Mexico City, April 17, 2022 [Luis Cortes/Reuters]

Washington had also said the reforms risked “endless litigation” that would hamper investment and undermine joint efforts to tackle climate change.

“Mexico’s energy policies are harming the environment, U.S. businesses and investor interests across multiple sectors, and hampering joint efforts to mitigate climate change,” U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said last month. , according to his office.

But after a marathon session, Mexico’s lower house of Congress on Sunday voted 275 to 223 in favor of the measure, well short of the 333 votes Lopez Obrador’s Morena party needed for constitutional changes.

The vote marked one of the few legislative setbacks suffered by Lopez Obrador since taking office in late 2018.

The failure of the bill represents “a great defeat for Morena and Lopez Obrador because it is one of the central axes of their energy nationalization project”, political analyst Jose Antonio Crespo told AFP. at the Center for Research and Education in Economics. agency.

But Lopez Obrador struck a defiant tone on Monday, promising “this is just the beginning” and urging lawmakers to back a separate bill he wants to debate that will nationalize Mexico’s lithium reserves.

Under the proposed lithium law, Mexico would reserve the exclusive right to mine the metal through a state-owned company and would not grant any concessions, the president said. Mexico currently has no commercial lithium production.

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