The Mayan Train opens a new battle between López Obrador and the ‘king of copper’, Germán Larrea

The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and the businessman Germán Larrea.
The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and the businessman Germán Larrea.EFE / DARK ROOM

A 67-kilometer railway section through the jungle of the Mexican southeast has opened a new affront between the so-called copper king, Germán Larrea, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The second richest man in the country has brought two lawsuits before the courts to demand compensation from the federal Administration after the decision to terminate his participation early in the construction of section 5 of the Mayan Train, the emblematic work of the Executive. Although the magistrates will have the last word on the case, both the president and the mining and infrastructure conglomerate have begun to throw crossed darts at each other. President López Obrador assured last Monday that the premature recession of the contracts is justified, since the company “was not complying”, to which Grupo México has replied, through a statement, that it did not commit any breach during the term. of the contract.

The consortium formed by Grupo México and Acciona, with the name of Desarrollo del Sureste Playa del Carmen-Tulum, won a contract of 17,815 million pesos in February 2021 [unos 914 millones de dólares] to build the 67-kilometer section of the Mayan Train, now in dispute. Seventeen months later, last July, the National Defense Secretariat (Sedena) assumed control of the work. The changes in delivery times and the layout of the railway line are at the center of the lawsuits that Larrea has filed against the federal government and that the newspaper published this week Reform. The Executive is urged to conclude this great work before December 2023, however, the continuous fights with ejidatarios and environmental groups have truncated government plans. López Obrador himself acknowledged this Monday that he “urged” them to finish the construction of this section and for this reason they decided to terminate the previous agreement with Larrea.

In defense of this decision, López Obrador has not skimped on the criticism against the owner of Grupo México, the second richest man in Mexico: “Who are the people of Grupo México? Those who received the National Railways in the time of Zedillo. Who is Grupo Mexico? Well, a company to which Salinas handed over the Cananea mining company, ”he accused this week at his usual press conference at the National Palace. The president also slipped that the conglomerate – which owns copper mines, infrastructure projects and railways – was granted opaque water concessions.

Faced with these darts, the company has assured in writing that given “the haste imposed” to complete the section of just over 60 kilometers of the Mayan Train in 11 months and deliver it in July 2023, they decided to conclude the contract and thus avoid incurring a non-compliance derived from new requested delivery dates. Grupo México emphasized that it did not commit any breach during the term of the contract. “The consortium has accepted the Government’s proposal that the settlement derive from the analysis and conciliation that take place with the military engineers. Grupo México maintains its absolute conviction that the settlement must be transparent, attached to the facts and the law”, he mentioned.

The differences between the so-called king of copper and López Obrador are old. In 2018, the Mexican magnate was one of the businessmen who secretly asked his employees not to vote for the then Morena candidate. Although he did not mention him by name or surname, Larrea urged workers, collaborators and shareholders to vote intelligently. On his part, once in power, López Obrador has undertaken actions that fully adhere to one of the company’s pillars: mining. López Obrador has repeatedly stated that no new mining concessions will be granted during his term. Now, the current disagreement over the Mayan Train is part of the bid for Banamex, a transaction in which Larrea appears as one of the favorites. The sale of the fourth most important bank in assets in Mexico for an estimated value of more than 10,000 million dollars not only has financiers and analysts in suspense, López Obrador is also one of the most attentive and expectant of this million-dollar transaction, the most important in the country in more than a decade.

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