In recent months, differences and legal and media confrontations between the federal government and Grupo México—led by magnate Germán Larrea Mota Velasco, the second richest man in the country, under the wealth accumulated by Carlos Slim—have become famous. Unlike what Larrea achieved in the PAN and PRI governments, the current administration forced him to fulfill his financial obligations, return the railway concessions, return the millionaire development of the Mayan Train, and pay for and repair the industrial pollution caused by his companies. facing criminal charges for violations of agreements and contracts with their subsidiaries.
Accustomed to bending political power in favor of its economic interests and to the detriment of the population, especially when faced with the obedient and moderate governments of the PAN and the PRI, the dozen Larrea companies that make up Grupo México pollute the rivers, lands, and air in some states of the Republic, violate agreements and contracts for works and services of the government, seek to avoid the treasury through the operation of foundations, and hide their wealth in tax havens.
In the previous administrations, everything was allowed by Grupo México, and when there was any intention to make it comply with the law, its law firms immediately went to court to seek protection, so the judges, magistrates, and ministers in its service gave decisions. favor
That agreement that the Grupo México in the Executive and Judicial powers has been changed in this six-year term or fought in the courts, because the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has achieved through legal disputes, private negotiations, and public exhibitions that the companies of the Mexican group recognized and accepted, with the approval of its president Germán Larrea, return the public works to the federal government, return the advances for the unfulfilled contracts, responsible for the ecological disasters caused in different parts of the country, will pay 24 billion pesos per year in taxes and fight in the courts tax debt of more than 200 million pesos.
Railroad concessionaires trembled
Some examples above are how the federal government recovered the 120-kilometer railway between Coatzacoalcos and Medias Aguas in Veracruz, where Ferrosur, a subsidiary of Grupo México, is under concession. A case in which the law firms of that corporation asked for 9,500 million pesos as compensation for that section of the railway that was recovered by the government because it was considered a public utility, with the purpose of building a corridor that would pass through the Interoceanic Canal on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, which unites the coasts of the Pacific with the Atlantic and will benefit trade, transportation, and the expansion of traffic in goods.
In response, the President of the Republic refused to give any cash compensation in public money to Grupo México, which he convinced to accept the extension of a term for eight years of another concession on a section of the railways by train from the Isthmus to Veracruz, which expires in 2036 and lasts until 2044.
The second case is when the federal government concluded a contract with another subsidiary of Grupo México for the construction of Section 5 of the public works of the Mayan Train, which goes from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, and there the Larrea group requested a payment of 4 billion pesos of public money for the cancellation of the contract.
The problem began when the federal government requested that the work be completed by July 2023, which the company opposed because, according to it, it was impossible due to changes in the route layouts with the aim of protecting the environment and the animals in the region.
Upon the cancellation of that contract, Larrea instructed his lawyers to file a lawsuit for the payment of 4 billion pesos. However, at the negotiating table, it was agreed not to pay even a fifth of Grupo México and, on the contrary, must return 1.2 billion pesos as part of the advances it paid.
The third case still in litigation due to disputes with Grupo México is the criminal complaint filed by the federal government against him on August 17, in which the businessman and his corporation are accused of failing to carry out environmental remediation in the Sonora River and the Bacanuchi tributary, as reported by the Secretary of Environment and Nature, María Luisa Albores González.
The problem is that the subsidiary company Buenavista del Cobre caused severe toxic contamination on August 6, 2014, due to the spilling of 40 thousand meters of acidulated copper sulfate into the river.
According to the environmental official, this is the worst environmental disaster in the history of metal mining in the country because it was not an accident but rather negligent construction due to the poor hydrological design of the Tinaja I system.
Larrea Mota Velasco and his group signed an agreement to resolve the alleged contamination of the river and compensate those affected by the alleged spill of sulfate metal, but once again, Grupo México alleged that it complied by paying monetary officers. The government of Peña Nieto believes that it was those who stole the money, but since there is no evidence of this, he is now facing a criminal complaint, which President López Obrador said his government is ready to withdraw if Larrea resolves the damage done, pays the victims, and stops harming and violating agreements.
The fourth issue about Germán Larrea has kept the tax authorities busy since 2021, when the mining magnate showed a long list of names leaked in millions of documents identifying businessmen, officials, and politicians from all over the world hiding their fortunes from taxes. havens to avoid paying taxes, launder dirty money, or hide and triangulate resources.
That created a global media scandal and was recognized as the Pandora Papers. It also allowed authorities in several countries, including Mexico, to open the files of those involved to determine if they failed to fulfill their tax obligations. In the case of Larrea, he has a tax credit of more than 200 million pesos that the Tax Administration Service requires him to pay, and the case was settled in court.
Since then, the government of López Obrador began to compile a thick file on the financial operations of all the companies of the Mexico Group and to fully review the income and expenses of the second richest man in the country, where he paid a tax of 24 thousand pesos per year. Since the beginning of this six-year term, Larrea has shown his dissatisfaction and permanent discomfort, saying that sometimes he can’t even sleep because sometimes he doesn’t feel how hard he is, but how dense the actions of the government are to force him to obey the law and social norms.
The fifth issue reviewed by the federal government in the instructions from López Obrador and which concerns the railway concessionaires is the memorandum that the president will send them in the coming days to inform them that these tracks, which are now used for the transportation of products and cargo, will also be used for passenger trains, so they need to be rehabilitated and electrified.
This is first an invitation to the concessionaires to respond within a reasonable period of time to this memorandum and if the summoned entrepreneurs themselves will present the projects that allow the rehabilitation of the railways and the planning of passenger trains, if not the federal government that launched a call or those who have that power directly military.
“If they say, ‘We don’t care, we will continue to provide the freight train service’, then we have two possibilities: one is that some tracks are concessioned by the Secretary of the Navy. In other words, the Isthmus Train, already managed by the Marina, reached Veracruz and Mexico City, that is, as a concession. And another thing is that the Mayan Train became a train to the north and reached Guadalajara and Sinaloa, Sonora and Nogales, and the other route to Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Monterrey, and Nuevo Laredo. In other words, that’s another option.” López Obrador specified this new provision, which has greatly troubled concessionaires like Larrea.
The third option regarding this presidential proposal is the collaboration of the government with national companies that are willing to repair the railways and build passenger trains. If the president’s proposal is accepted, it will regulate the circulation schedules of freight and passenger trains, but in principle, it is observed that it is a good project for the benefit of local communities and all travelers to Mexico.
The approach of the Presidency of the Republic is that the country will return to non-polluting rail transport and, as will happen in Europe, the entire population will benefit.