Manuel Bartlett he does not finish coming out of a scandal, when another one has already exploded. The general director of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) is a radical, that’s why the president Andrés Manuel López Obrador He put him in charge of the state company, among other things to promote the cancellation of the energy reform and limit the participation of private companies in the electricity sector as much as possible. However, things have not turned out well for him. On the contrary, his management in these two years has been more than erratic.
Before taking office as director of the CFE, Bartlett received strong criticism from members of the political movement that brought López Obrador to the presidency. The former campaign coordinator, Tatiana Clouthier, He said there were better options to lead the company. Clouthier is now the Secretary of the Economy and has the mission of rebuilding the government’s relationship with businessmen, something that Bartlett, among other members of the cabinet, has dedicated himself to dynamiting.
Bartlett came to the CFE with the threat of canceling the contracts of seven gas pipeline companies if they did not agree to reduce the rates they charge the electricity company. After months of negotiation and threats to take the disputes to international courts, an agreement was reached with which, in the short term, a 27% reduction in rates was obtained, but in the long run 6,836 will come out million dollars more expensive for the government, according to the Federation’s own Superior Audit.
In those days of March and April 2019, the CFE was dealing with three consecutive blackouts in the Yucatan Peninsula, which it claimed were caused by fires in sugarcane areas, but were actually generated by overloads in the Ticul-Escárcega transmission network , given the lack of investment in maintenance. Those blackouts affected more than 2 million users.
Massive blackouts occurred again in July and September 2019, this time in the two Baja Californias. The CFE explained that they were due to staggered power outages, caused by failures at the Baja California Uno generation plant and technical failures in two units at the Mexicali Combined Cycle Power Plant. The blackouts affected 40% of the population of those states.
Last year, the CFE’s electricity service interruptions were also constant. Lawmakers demanded it from Bartlett during an appearance in the House of Deputies in late October. “In 2020 there were more cuts than ever in the last 20 years, what are you going to do so that this does not happen in 2021?”, Claimed the PAN deputy, Armando Tejeda Cid.
“Across the country, the CFE cut the energy service to almost 700 thousand homes for non-payment during the two months of health emergency due to the coronavirus,” added the deputy of Movimiento Ciudadano, Jorge Alcibíades García.
The most recent crises, and perhaps the most scandalous, occurred in the last two months of 2020. In November the government of Tabasco blamed the CFE for the venting of the Peñitas dam that flooded 17 municipalities of the entity and affected 180 thousand people . “Mr. Bartlett, that’s not called clumsiness. It is called irresponsibility and criminal negligence ”, launched the governor Adam Augusto López.
On December 28, a mega blackout occurred in the national electricity system that affected more than 10 million users in the country. The CFE stated that the cuts were due to fires generated in grasslands of a Tamaulipas municipality that affected its transmission lines. This week, Bartlett acknowledged that the letter he filed was false and blamed the renewable energy generators.
So goes the still brief but very scandalous management of Manuel Bartlett at the head of the CFE.