Mexico’s AMLO Blasts Galvez, Says Privatizing Pemex Is a Mistake

(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador blasted opposition presidential candidate Xochitl Galvez’s business-friendly proposals for the energy industry, saying he opposes privatizing state-owned oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos.

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Lopez Obrador, who was banned by the country’s electoral institute from naming Galvez in his press conferences after a complaint that his mentions were gender violence, referred to her as “the lady.”

“That lady says she’ll privatize Pemex. That helps me with the people,” AMLO, as the president is known, said. “I don’t believe in privatizing Pemex or the energy industry. That model of privatization was a synonym of corruption.”

Galvez told Bloomberg News in an interview Thursday that if elected, she would undertake a sweeping reform of state oil firm Pemex, opening the energy sector to private investment and supercharging renewables. While she didn’t commit to privatizing the highly-indebted company, she said a model like Brazil’s Petrobras, which is publicly traded despite being government-controlled, could work for the Mexican producer.

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Lopez Obrador’s nationalistic energy policy, which includes the cancellation of oil exploring rounds for private companies, has been one of the most characteristic features in his five years in government. Mexico is holding general elections on June 2, with Galvez becoming the most immediate threat to the ruling party’s attempt to remain in power for another term.

--With assistance from Amy Stillman.

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