MERIDA, Mexico – Mexico’s presidential candidates agreed on Tuesday that Mexico needs to develop its renewable energy, but disagreed over building a new petroleum refinery.
The Great Museum of the Mayan World in Merida, Yucatan, was the venue for the third and last debate before Mexico’s presidential elections on July 1.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that his coalition, led by the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), advocates for cheaper gasoline, as oil prices in Mexico are higher than in the United States, and are even higher than in Guatemala, which has no oil resources.
In addition, he also supports combining this measure with renewable energy, which has not been fully supported due to “corruption.”
The three-time presidential candidate raised the argument that many refineries in the country have been abandoned and as such Mexico needs to import over 600,000 barrels of gasoline a day at a very high price.
“We are going to rehabilitate the refineries that we have and build a large refinery,” he said.
This proposal was strongly rejected by the rest of the candidates.
“It is absolute nonsense,” said conservative Ricardo Anaya, who argued that by the time the refinery was completed in 2024, gasoline consumption will have already declined due to cheaper electric vehicles.
Jose Antonio Meade, from the coalition comprising the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Ecologist Green Party of Mexico (PVEM) and the New Alliance Party, said that the challenge at this time is to make specific decisions on various issues such as public transport, waste management and efficient energy use.
Meanwhile, independent candidate Jaime Rodriguez Calderon, known colloquially as “el Bronco,” also highlighted the need not to focus solely on protectionism, but also on information outreach so that Mexican citizens could help protect the environment.
During the debate, the presidential candidates also faced challenging questions about their positions on nuclear energy.
The debate, held under the theme “Economy and Development,” is divided into three sessions: Economic Growth, Poverty and Inequality; Education, Science and Technology; and Health, Sustainable Development and Climate Change.