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The Mexican Oil Expropriation of 1938 and the Roots of Resource Nationalism in Latin America

Date & Time:
February 12, 2019 | 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Senate Room, Hotel Alma
Dr. Amelia Kiddle

The Guatemalan Ambassador to Mexico in 1938 described the Mexican oil expropriation as “A decision of transcendent importance for the Americas.” This prescient observation was proven correct, as this event became a touchstone in Latin American history, reverberating throughout the world, changing business practices, government policies, labour relations, and discourses of resource nationalism. Although the expropriation held multiple meanings for individuals, social groups, and governments throughout the region, it framed the transnational flow of ideas regarding resource nationalism and continues to influence Latin American petroleum policies into the present.

Dr. Amelia Kiddle's talk will heighten awareness of the historical roots of contemporary energy issues. Beginning in 1938, Mexico was at the forefront of state-led energy development in Latin America, but in the context of the declining oil production, rampant corruption, and inefficiency plaguing the Mexican oil industry, the Mexican government ended its oil monopoly in 2014, abandoning the country’s long history of sovereign control over the extraction of this national asset and inviting the successors of the very companies that were expropriated in 1938 to cooperate in the development of Mexico’s natural resources. Mexico’s newly-inaugurated president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has vowed to recover national control of the country’s oil wealth.

Join Dr. Kiddle on Tues. Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. at the University of Calgary (Senate Room, Hotel Alma) for this comprehensive study of the Latin American response to the expropriation. By historicizing the evolution of ideas regarding the appropriate role of the state in the production, consumption, and regulation of energy, the broader political projects of governments, both historical and contemporary are laid bare.

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