Five hundred thousand people mobilized in Mexico City’s Zocalo on March 18 to mark 85 years since the expropriation of oil by former Mexican President Lázaro Cárdenas. The mobilization was called by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, also known as AMLO, who has linked the move by Cárdenas 85 years ago to his administration’s current efforts at building energy independence.
The Oil Expropriation Decree by Cárdenas in 1938 ordered the expropriation of the oil fields, machinery, installations, buildings, refineries, distribution stations, pipelines, and other physical assets of 17 foreign companies and their subsidiaries that had control over the industry. This meant that Mexico’s oil resources and industry would benefit the people and strengthen the national economy.
The March 18 mobilization also marks one month since AMLO decreed the nationalization of the country’s lithium, approved in April 2022 by the Mexican Congress. Lithium is classified as a “critical mineral” and is used to manufacture rechargeable electric batteries used in a variety of electronics such as electric cars, computers, and cellphones.
When addressing the crowd on March 18, AMLO strongly rejected threats against the country by U.S. politicians. He said, “We remind those hypocritical and irresponsible politicians that Mexico is an independent and free country, not a colony or a protectorate of the United States. They can threaten us with committing any outrage, but we will never, ever allow them to violate our sovereignty and trample on the dignity of our homeland.”