Mexico’s president said he wants to terminate a 100-year concession awarded to a private company to operate the Port of Veracruz, one of the country’s largest seaports.
Speaking at his daily morning news conference, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador declined to name the port operator but said it was “excessive” that a private company could secure such a long contract to run the port.
“We are cleaning up corruption. I just found out that the port of Veracruz was concessioned to a company, first for 50 years, and 10 days after we won, that company received another concession, extending the term to another 50 years; imagine a century-long concession from the port of Veracruz. How come they signed that?” Obrador said during the press conference.
It’s not clear which company has the 100-year contract to operate the port. A group called the Administración Portuaria Integral de Veracruz, SA DE CV (APIVER) is listed as having the 100-year concession to manage the port, according to government documents.
Hutchison Ports ICAVE, a subsidiary of CK Hutchison Holdings Limited, has also been reported in the media as the port’s operator.
The Port of Veracruz is Mexico’s largest commercial seaport on the Gulf of Mexico. The port handled 494,202 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) from January to June, down 13.1% compared with 568,906 TEUs in 2019, according to Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transport.
Obrador said the first 50-year concession for the Port of Veracruz was awarded during the administration of former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-94).
The concession was extended another 50 years just 10 days after the July 1, 2018, presidential election by the outgoing government, Obrador said. The outgoing president was Enrique Peña Nieto.
Obrador added he will attempt to cancel the port’s concession contract.
“I found out about the port this morning, that’s why the change in ports management and that’s why we put order in ports, customs, migration, because everything was spoiled, corruption everywhere,” Obrador said.
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