Who is Alfonso Romo?

ALFONSO ROMO

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

It’s not just a smile for the photo. No. The gesture of satisfaction that is seen on the face of Alfonso Romo in Agromod is genuine. It’s the sign of the winner. He is in Tapachula, Chiapas, at his business attired in an aseptic white lab coat, surrounded by his workers, as smiley as he is, just behind where the future president of Mexico is.

Agromod, the food technology company owned by the future head of the Office of the Presidency where the photograph was taken, is one key piece of his emporium. The presence of Andrés Manuel López Obrador there was not accidental, but rather part of the “field work” of the president-elect to re-forest one million hectares, an initiative that coincides with the view of development for the region that Romo has. According to him, forest investment in the southeast “is the cheapest way for Mexico to bring wealth to the countryside.” They are not just words. The magnate has invested in biotechnology and agribusiness in Chiapas since 1992. In 1996 he confessed that his project in that state “is the one that I like the most of all my businesses.”

But it’s not only Chiapas. The countryside is the countryside of Alfonso Romo. A “Regiomontano” [1] at heart, born in Mexico City, he felt a vocation for the rural world. He studied to be an agronomist at the Monterrey Technological Institute, “to modify Article 27.” In 1996, he told Expansion Magazine that this constitutional article “has been the most nefarious one that we have had in this country.” According to him: “while constitutional article 27 was in effect, 45 percent of the population did not see benefit from their lands for 60 years because the law didn’t permit it.”

His understanding of the campesino and indigenous world is very peculiar. “Mexican campesinos –he said– are not accustomed to fighting 10 hours a day.” He wants to see the indigenous peoples “morally responsible,” but he doesn’t tolerate “dishonors to the country, abortions, the lack of morals in the free right to life.” He asserts that: “there are tribes” in the Lacandón Jungle. And he wants “to help the indigenous be good Mexicans.”

His incursion into the world of agribusiness has been a kind of wheel of fortune. Sometimes it’s up; sometimes it’s down, but always mounted on it. In 1987 he acquired Cigarrera La Moderna, to sell it 10 years later, to British American Tobacco. He founded Seminis, which managed to control 22 percent of the international seeds market. But, in the midst of a scandalous lawsuit with his father-in-law, Antonio Garza Lagüera, he had to hand it over to Monsanto, to cover part of a million-dollar debt. He reached to controlling 22 percent of the international seed market.

His investments in the tobacco industry did not cause him moral doubts. According to him, “the tobacco campaigns have been very exaggerated […] It’s not possible that there is more publicity against tobacco than against drugs, homosexuality or pornography.”

Alfonso Romo admires John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, “the grand triumvirate that changed the world.” At the same time, he appreciates Porfirio Díaz, who he considers a great visionary, and Francisco I. Madero, his great grandfather’s brother. He did business with the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and maintained that: “if Pinochet was being prosecuted, President Salvador Allende, who was also a murderer, should also be tried” (https://bit.ly/2OtDYn6). He is a counselor at the Atlantic Institute of Government, directed by the former Spanish president José María Aznar, together with Ernesto Zedillo and Mario Vargas Llosa.

He has successfully combined politics and business at the highest level. He opines that Carlos Salinas “was a great reformer and a great statist.” Ernesto Zedillo is –it seems to him– an honest man, moral and consistent in his economic program. He supported Vicente Fox with everything since 1997. He impelled the formation of the Citizen Option (Opción Ciudadana) political platform. In 2011 he approached López Obrador.

The coordinator of the nation project and future chief of staff has announced that AMLO’s government plan will be centrist, will defend free trade, will seek to convert Mexico into a private investment paradise and will convert all of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero into special economic zones.

Two figures close to him will occupy key positions in the next administration. One is Víctor Villalobos, the lord of the GMOs, announced as Secretary of Agriculture. The other is Tatiana Clouthier, efficient spokeswoman for the presidential campaign, director of the Monterrey Metropolitan University’s high school, Romo’s education business, designated as assistant Secretary of Governance (Mexico’s Interior Ministry). [2]

Ironies of politics, the conservative impresario Alfonso Romo, enemy of abortion and of social property in the countryside, will be the second most powerful man in a government that won the elections with the vote of those who reject the structural reforms, defend the right of women to decide about their bodies and vindicate the ejido and the indigenous community.

[1] Regiomontano is a resident of Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico.

[2] Clouthier declined the position.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

http://www.jornada.com.mx/2018/08/14/opinion/015a2pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

One Comment on “Who is Alfonso Romo?

  1. Esta es la verdadera razón del “Tren Maya”. Este megaproyecto es el regalo de López Obrador a su querido amigo Alfonso Romo. Además de estar sembrado en el conflicto de interés, es una traición a aquellos que tenían la esperanza de erradicar las siembras transgénicos en México. Alfonso Romo, además de ser un latifundista en Yucatán, es socio de Monsanto y un ladrón del patrimonio nacional, esto es, almacena semillas nacionales para luego patentiza su material genético. López Obrador, flagerante conflicto de interés, traiciona a los ejidatarios e intenta despojarlos de sus tierras para así, entregarle un transporte barato y subsidiado a su amigo Alfonso Romo.

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