An estimated 45,000 people jammed Mexico City Sunday to protest plans to allow foreign firms to invest in oil and gas exploration and production.

President Enrique Peña Nieto is pushing reforms that he said are needed to revive Mexico’s oil and gas industry.

A leftist opposition leader and the former mayor of Mexico City, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is leading the protests.

He vowed two weeks ago to shut down Mexico City to defeat the reform plans.

“I am sure we are going to stop these anti-patriotic reforms,” Lopez Obrador told the Los Angeles Times.

In August, President Peña Nieto said he’d introduce legislation to allow private and foreign investors into Mexico’s oil and gas sector.

Mexico produced less than 2.482 million barrels per day of crude in July, according to state oil company Pemex.

The country’s production peaked in 2004 at of 3.4 million barrels per day.

Mexico’s constitution has banned foreign investment in the oil and gas sector since 1938.

Opposition leader Lopez Obrador said  Sunday that ‘Pemex needed to be cleansed of corruption, not opened to outside investment. He portrayed the reform as part of a 30-year wave of privatization that has enriched a privileged few while doing little to help everyday Mexicans,’ the LA Times said.

In Mexico City Sunday, crowds chanted, “The patria [native land] is not for sale!”


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