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Napoleón Gómez Urrutia: A House Divided


n June 1858, the President Lincoln gave a controversial speech in front of members of the United States House of Representatives. His intention was to use a popular metaphor to make his peers aware of the importance of rejecting slavery as a concept and as public policy. In this case, the term divided house He was referring to the United States of America, since there was disagreement between the northern and southern states, but also to the internal division that existed at that time between opponents and supporters of this tyrannical and oppressive practice.

At present, it could be said that in Mexico we find ourselves in a similar scenario. A couple of days ago, we witnessed a division within the Chamber of Deputies. On the one hand, there were those who defended the interests of large transnational companies that profit from the current state of the electricity system, and on the other, those who fulfilled their duty and defended the interests of the people who put them in power. Even the reading of the final result was different for each part. The opposition celebrated what they considered a victory. They shouted inside the legislative chamber that the country had won because the electrical reform promoted by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had not passed. Without arguments and without popular support, what they considered a triumph can only be described as a betrayal of the interests of the Mexican people.

The rejection of the much-needed energy reform showed that our house, our nation, was divided at a time when it was crucial that legislators – both in the Chamber of Deputies and in the Senate – defend national interests. It was not a time for likes and dislikes, but rather to protect our resources to guarantee economic growth and national development. Our decisions would be judged by the generations of today and tomorrow. However, members of the opposition did not understand this. They demonstrated –cynically and publicly– that they are on the wrong side of history and history will remember them for what they are: servants of interests contrary to the nation.

The Mining Law represented an opportunity to demonstrate that after more than 80 years of subservience and servility, the PRI and PAN have learned their lesson. In the past, they took on the task of dismantling and handing over companies that were owned by the State – and by citizens – to benefit a handful of the population that seeks to get rich at any cost. But the priority of this federal government is to ensure that this does not happen again. With the nationalization of lithium, the aim is to put the well-being of the people first. It is time for the State to stop being a passive actor and recover its place as guarantor of the exploration, exploitation and use of a natural resource whose demand will continue to grow due to its key role in technological development and, eventually, the same will occur with other minerals.

Both the President and the members of his party were aware of what the debate around lithium represents. For us, it was a discussion about energy sovereignty and shared prosperity. It was not our intention to stop investments and growth, as the opposition said. Unlike. With the approval of the Mining Law, the State is now responsible for distributing the benefits that will be obtained from any activity related to lithium and, at the same time, for preventing this non-metallic mineral from being sold as merchandise to the highest bidder. This is good news because it is a strategic mineral for the economy, for national security and for the future of our country.

Like Lincoln, I call on members of the opposition to reflect on the historical moment in which we find ourselves. It is up to them to decide what they will do next: will they help consolidate the interests of the nation and serve the Mexican people, or will they continue to enrich a handful of businessmen, increasing inequality in our country? Whatever happens, the Senate has decided: lithium belongs to and for Mexicans.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

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