Privatization Is Theft

López Obrador greets a young girl in a departures lounge at the airport in Campeche, following a campaign rally, on June 26, 2018. PHOTO: Christopher Morris/TIME

Leftist president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador takes office today in Mexico. Here, he explains how privatization has pillaged the public — and calls for a break with the neoliberal order.

By Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador | 1 December 2018

JACOBIN — In terms of our collective wellbeing, the politics of pillage has been an unmitigated disaster. In economic and social affairs, we’ve been regressing instead of moving forward. But this is hardly surprising: the model itself is designed to favor a small minority of corrupt politicians and white-collar criminals. The model does not seek to meet the needs of the people, or to avoid violence and conflict; it seeks neither to govern openly nor honestly. It seeks to monopolize the bureaucratic apparatus and transfer public goods to private hands, making claims that this will somehow bring about prosperity.

The result: monstrous economic and social inequality. Mexico is one of the countries with the greatest disparities between wealth and poverty in the world. According to a 2015 article written by Gerardo Esquivel, a professor at the College of Mexico and a Harvard graduate, 10 percent of Mexicans control 64.4 percent of the national income, and 1 percent own 21 percent of the country’s wealth. But most significantly, inequality in Mexico deepened precisely during the neoliberal period. Privatization allowed it to thrive.

It’s also important to make note of the following statistic: in July 1988, when Carlos Salinas was imposed as president on the Mexican people through electoral fraud, only one Mexican family sat on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people — the Garza Sada family, with $2 billion to their name. By the end of Salinas’s term in office, twenty-four Mexicans had joined the list, owning a combined total of $44.1 billion. Nearly all had made off with companies, mines, and banks belonging to the people of Mexico. In 1988, Mexico sat at twenty-sixth place on a list of countries with the most billionaires; by 1994, Mexico was in fourth place, just beneath the United States, Japan, and Germany. […]

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