Mexico’s president is getting a little sloppy in the rush to finish projects before his term ends


In Mexico City, the President is swiftly advancing his promised legislative and construction initiatives before his term concludes in September. Amid this urgency, there have been instances of oversight by officials.

Recently, Morena party legislators inadvertently presented an incorrect pension reform bill for congressional voting. Upon realizing the mistake, they withdrew the bill and postponed the vote, attributing the mix-up to a clerical error. Senator Ignacio Mier, representing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s party, remarked that such human errors are unintentional and not malicious.

The haste is also evident in infrastructure projects, where significant errors have occurred, including construction mishaps involving cranes and protected cave systems. As the presidential election on June 2 nears, the President is determined to complete his projects promptly.

Political analyst José Antonio Crespo notes the President’s eagerness to cement his policies, making it difficult for successors to reverse them post-election.

The proposed pension reform has sparked controversy. It aims to reallocate dormant pension funds from workers who haven’t claimed them by age 70, placing them into a collective pool for those with insufficient pensions. President López Obrador assures that these funds can be reclaimed upon request.

However, the erroneously submitted bill would have eliminated safeguards, potentially allowing for the seizure of pensions from active workers over 70. Given the complex bureaucracy surrounding pension claims, critics doubt the ease of reclaiming funds, with opposition Senator Rubén Moreira voicing concerns over the potential misappropriation of personal savings and the ineffectiveness of the reform in addressing pension issues.

President López Obrador’s preference for public programs over private benefits is at the heart of the debate. He criticizes the individualistic approach and supports comprehensive government-led initiatives.

Since 1997, Mexico’s underfunded pension system has operated on individual accounts similar to the U.S. 401K, with contributions from both workers and employers. The President has criticized this model, advocating for a government-guaranteed pension equal to the last salary. However, due to financial constraints, he proposes utilizing unclaimed accounts to support this. Orlando Corona, a social security expert, warns that this could infringe upon workers’ and their beneficiaries’ rights if they fail to stake their claims.

Orlando Corona emphasized the need for a comprehensive campaign to inform workers about claiming their pensions, a consideration missing from the president’s current plan. President López Obrador is known for expediting legislation and infrastructure projects, often bypassing standard reviews and permitting procedures.

This past Wednesday, his party advanced a law in the Senate that would prevent judges from halting government projects, even against citizen appeals.

President López Obrador cherishes railway projects, aiming to revive the state-run passenger train services discontinued in the 1990s. However, these projects raise environmental concerns and may be too ambitious to complete within his term.

He is committed to completing these projects by September 30, his term’s end, and claims they are being constructed at an unprecedented pace. He dedicates most weekends to inspecting the construction sites.

Yet, the rush in both legislative and construction work can lead to issues. José Antonio Crespo cautions that such speed is not recommended.

Recently, a massive gantry crane collapsed at a construction site for a commuter rail line, causing delays and alarming the community. Earlier, a crane mishap nearly injured two individuals. In March, a railway fitting malfunction led to a derailment on the Maya Train project, a future high-speed tourist route. Although no injuries occurred, the incident raised safety concerns.

The railway switch, meant for automatic operation, is currently being manually adjusted due to the incomplete automated system. This manual handling led to the recent accident. Additionally, the government has admitted to construction errors affecting ecologically sensitive areas, including limestone caves with significant archaeological importance. These missteps highlight the challenges of balancing rapid progress with careful execution.

Source: AP News