On Saturday, March 18, tens of thousands of Mexicans filled the Zocalo in México City to support President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s nationalization of the country’s lithium and his promise to do everything he can to make México energy self-sufficient by 2024. The rally came on the 85th anniversary of the nationalization of México’s oil industry by President Cardenas in 1938. Journalist Zoe Alexandra covered the massive gathering for the People’s Dispatch. We excerpt from her coverage below.
The Cardenas Oil Expropriation Decree ordered the expropriation of the oil fields, refineries, distribution stations, oil pipelines, and other physical assets of the 17 foreign companies and their subsidiaries that controlled the industry in México. This move meant that México’s oil resources and industry from then on would benefit the people and strengthen the national economy.
The major motivation for the Cardenas decision: the labor conflict between Mexican workers and foreign oil companies over salaries and working conditions. With the expropriation and founding of México’s state oil company Pemex three months later, workers in the sector empowered by the president’s intervention on their behalf saw their conditions significantly improve.
AMLO has now nationalized the México’s lithium, a move approved last April by the Mexican Congress. High-tech firms use lithium — the new gold! — to manufacture rechargeable electric batteries in a variety of electronics ranging from electric cars to computers and cellphones.
In his address announcing the lithium nationalization, AMLO recounted the bold Cardenas move to confront the foreign oil companies head on.
“What we are doing now is nationalizing lithium so that it cannot be exploited by foreigners, not from Russia, China, or the United States,” he declared. “Oil and lithium are of the nation, of the Mexican people, of all Mexicans.”