Mexican Candidates’ Advisers Face Off on Oil, Corruption and New Airport

  • Meade’s adviser says AMLO’s contract review sows uncertainty
  • Anaya adviser attacks ruling party’s record on corruption

Gerardo Esquivel, left, speaks as Luis Madrazo, center, and Salomon Chertorivsk, look on during the Bloomberg FX18 Summit in Mexico City, on March 14.

Photographer: Brett Gundlock/Bloomberg

Advisers for Mexico’s top three presidential candidates found almost no common ground in a debate over their economic platforms in a sign of more clashes to come as the campaign heats up before July’s election.

Gerardo Esquivel

Photographer: Brett Gundlock/Bloomberg

They butted heads over front-runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s proposals to review Mexico’s landmark oil reform and to relocate a $13 billion new airport project. His adviser, Gerardo Esquivel, argued that the airport being built on sinking land is a waste of money, and he defended the leftist by attacking the current government’s record on corruption, arguing that it makes an audit of oil contracts necessary.

That led to heated exchanges over whose government and candidate have been more corrupt, mainly between advisers for those polling second and third as they seek the coveted runner-up spot, which would allow them to go head to head with Lopez Obrador.

Luis Madrazo

Photographer: Brett Gundlock/Bloomberg

Who’s ahead in Mexico’s election? For Bloomberg Poll Tracker, click here.

Mexico goes to polls in less than four months in what will be the nation’s largest election in history, and which is shaping up to be one of its most contentious. After losing the presidential contest twice before, Lopez Obrador holds a comfortable lead, which Ricardo Anaya and Jose Antonio Meade are trying to shake by painting him as a radical firebrand.

"There’s been a permanent process of contradictions that cause uncertainty," said Luis Madrazo, economic adviser to Meade of ruling PRI who’s in third place. "Lopez Obrador’s campaign is similar to what happens with Trump. He says one thing and then his team has to come out and explain what he’s trying to say."

Salomon Chertorivsk

Photographer: Brett Gundlock/Bloomberg

Meade and the current government came under attack by Salomon Chertorivski, representing Anaya of a left-right opposition coalition, who quipped Mexico’s dwindling public investment and low growth have been disastrous for Mexico. Madrazo attacked Anaya for an ongoing probe into a property sale he made in his home state of Queretaro, which elicited rebuttals from Chertorivski about a raft of corruption scandals plaguing the PRI.

Some common ground was found when Esquivel said the technical team renegotiating Nafta would remain under Lopez Obrador to ensure continuity in the talks, and Chertorivski agreed with Esquivel that there are concerns about transparency with the new airport contracts.

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