MEXICO CITY – Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s plan to relocate several federal government departments faces enormous logistical challenges, including the need for thousands of officials to change residences.
The decentralization program, one of Lopez Obrador’s campaign promises, is aimed at “reviving the states’ economies” and would at the same time entail a reduction in the salaries (and expenses) of these civil servants.
“The decentralization of the federal government is a process. Along with the heads of the secretariats (proposed for the next presidential Cabinet), we’re looking at when we’ll be able to start the transfer of the secretariats to the states,” the president-elect said last weekend.
The future public education secretary, Esteban Moctezuma, said his portfolio would be the first to be decentralized and be headquartered around 130 kilometers (80 miles) outside Mexico City in the central state of Puebla.
The relocation of the Public Education Secretariat’s 18,000 employees, who currently work at 40 buildings in the Mexican capital, will pose one of the biggest logistical challenges.
Moctezuma said he would work from Puebla starting Dec. 1, the day Lopez Obrador takes office, and recalled that the changes would be gradual.
But he stressed the need to create the proper conditions for rank-and-file workers, including adequate housing, education for these employees’ children and the provision of other necessary services.
“We’re going to decentralize the government because we no longer want public investment concentrated in one or two or three (federal) entities. We need growth to be horizontal, evenly spread out, so all Mexican states benefit and it’s not just certain areas that keep growing,” Moctezuma said.
Other departments to be moved include the Culture Secretariat (to Tlaxcala City, Tlaxcala state), the Tourism Secretariat (to Chetumal, Quintana Roo), the Environment Secretariat (to Merida, Yucatan), state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (to Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche) and the Energy Secretariat (to Villahermosa, Tabasco).
For reasons of national security, the Defense, Navy, Government (Interior), Foreign Relations and Finance Secretariats are to remain in Mexico City.
Some 3 million people are employed by the Mexican government, 80 percent of whom are based in Mexico City, according to unofficial figures.
An earlier plan to decentralize the federal government was formulated following the devastating Sept. 19, 1985, Mexico City earthquake that severely damaged several government buildings, but it was abandoned two years later.