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  • Image of President Andres Manuel  Lopez Obrador (AMLO) during his July electoral win. Jul. 1 , 2018

    Image of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) during his July electoral win. Jul. 1 , 2018 | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 March 2019

Mexican President Lopez Obrador says credit rating agencies are 'punishing' his administration for previous 'failed neoliberal policies synonymous with corruption.' 

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) says his administration is being “punished” by international credit rating agencies for the “neoliberal policies” that have plagued the country for the past 36 years.

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In the president’s daily address Tuesday, AMLO said: “They’re punishing the country for the neoliberal policies applied in the last 36 years, which were a complete failure, especially in the last few years and more precisely last year.”

On Mar. 1, the influential Standard & Poor's (S&P) credit analysis agency downgraded Mexico from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’, potentially putting the nation’s ability to obtain loans at risk.

The agency lowered its rating for the national oil company PEMEX and state electricity company CFE along with 77 financial institutions and a dozen private companies saying the “main trigger behind the revision” is the “risk” regarding “a recent shift in government policy to reduce private-sector involvement in the energy sector.” In other words, they were downgraded for moving away from neoliberalism and privatization of national resources.

A different credit agency, Fitch, lowered Mexico’s credit rating from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’ last October, three monthd after AMLO was elected.

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"It was an inefficient economic policy characterized by looting, by corruption. Neoliberalism is synonymous in the case of Mexico of corruption, of robbery, "he said.

"Both Pemex and the CFE were the most looted companies, not only of Mexico, I would say, of the world in the neoliberal period," he added.

Over the past two decades, top officials at PEMEX have been linked to several cases of fraud, embezzling for electoral campaigns, and stealing resources for their own use. In the last quarter of the 2017 fiscal year, the company lost US$19 billion in revenue and US$14 billion in 2016.

AMLO stressed: “We had nothing to do with the government then but we have to pay the consequences,” adding: "The only thing that I can reproach, in a fraternal, respectful way, to the rating agencies, is that during all that time, that corruption prevailed in PEMEX and the CFE, they remained silent. They qualified with 10, with excellence," he said.

Earlier this month the AMLO administration released a report citing how a slew of government officials who worked in energy, transportation and energy during previous administrations are now working privately in the same sectors. Former PEMEX CEO Jesus Reyes Heroles is now an energy consultant and a former secretary of communications and transportation during the 1994-2000 administration of Ernesto Zedillo is currently chairman and CEO of energy-infrastructure firm IEnova.

"We base our optimism on an element, on a very important variable, as the technocrats say, which was not taken into account: there will be no corruption," he said.

Lopez Obrador has been implementing policy to crackdown on corruption in PEMEX and is tentatively scheduling a referendum for later this month on whether past presidents should be put on trial for the neoliberal policies he says hollowed out state companies and enable corruption and inequality.

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