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Presidential candidates meet with the Pope, water crisis, arms trafficking, state energy company granted tax credit

Lauren TerMaat

Claudia Sheinbaum and Xóchitl Gálvez meet with the Pope, López Obrador announces measures to combat water crisis, new statistics announced on US - Mexico arms trafficking, PEMEX energy company relieved of government tax obligation. (Week of 02/11/2024 - 02/17/2024)

Week of 02/11/2024 - 02/17/2024

Gálvez and Sheinbaum both meet with the Pope

This week, both of Mexico’s leading presidential candidates traveled to the Vatican for a private discussion with Pope Francis. Xóchitl Gálvez visited on Tuesday (02/13), and Claudia Sheinbaum followed suit on Thursday (02/15).

Gálvez, the opposition’s candidate for president, shared that Pope Francis had “wished her good luck” and had expressed his concern about issues of violence and security in Mexico. Sheinbaum, the candidate for the ruling party Morena, named the Pope as one of her inspirations, and said that she had received “profound life lessons” during their discussion. 

According to experts, the two visits were campaign moves to gain support from the Catholic population in Mexico. However, since the meetings were only two days apart and both candidates received encouragement and support from the Pope, the visits are not likely to have a significant electoral impact. 

AMLO announces measures to combat water crisis

Mexico continues to face a drought and consequently a shortage of usable water throughout the country. During his Morning Conferences on Wednesday (02/14), President López Obrador assured that his administration is working closely with state and local governments to provide a greater supply of potable water, especially in the Mexico City Metropolitan area. 

López Obrador highlighted the importance of modernizing infrastructure for water distribution, and he plans to construct new wells and pumps, while updating existing infrastructure, ensuring that leaks are fixed as quickly as possible.

Several groups have warned, however, that the water crisis is far too severe, and more urgent measures should be taken. Recently, the Mexico Employers’ Federation (COPARMEX) urged the water crisis to be designated as a risk to national security. 

AMLO: “70% of firearms confiscated during my administration came from the US”

President López Obrador indicated on Tuesday (02/13) that his administration has seized around 50,000 contraband firearms since he took office in 2018, and 70% of these weapons originated in the United States. 

Furthermore, AMLO asserted that 50% of the total 50,000 came from the state of Texas.  During his Morning Conference, he demanded an explanation for this high statistic from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, whose policies at the US-Mexico border have been frequently criticized by López Obrador. According to AMLO, the threats and attacks against Mexico in the US are intended to attract attention and support during election season. 

This statistic follows ongoing research by both the US government and the Mexican government into US - Mexico arms trafficking, especially following the 01/24/2024 decision by a US federal appeals court that American arms manufacturers are not immune from being sued by the Mexican government for “negligent commercial practices” that facilitate the illegal trafficking of arms to Mexican cartels.

PEMEX relieved of tax obligation by presidential decree

On Tuesday (02/13), President López Obrador declared that Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), the state-owned energy company, is not required to pay a “right of shared utility” (DUC, in Spanish) tax to the government for the last three months of 2023 and January 2024. 

This tax credit will save PEMEX several billion pesos, and is intended to financially stimulate the company, which is in a significant amount of debt. Due to this debt, Moody’s Investors Service lowered PEMEX’s credit rating by two levels in their latest publication on 02/09. 

President López Obrador has worked throughout his administration to support PEMEX, most recently by allocating billions of pesos for the company in the government’s annual budget. Experts warn, however, that the next administration, which will begin in October, must take on the responsibility of continuing to financially support PEMEX, otherwise the indebted company will no longer be able to operate in the long term. 

About the Author

Lauren TerMaat

Lauren TerMaat

Staff Assistant Intern, Mexico Institute
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Mexico Institute

The Mexico Institute seeks to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship. A binational Advisory Board, chaired by Luis Téllez and Earl Anthony Wayne, oversees the work of the Mexico Institute.   Read more