Carlos Romero Deschamps, former leader of Mexico’s Oil Workers’ Union (STPRM), died on Thursday at age 79. Romero Deschamps went from driving a petroleum tanker to leading over 100,000 unionized workers at PEMEX for 26 years before resigning from the union in 2019 following corruption scandals.
Born in 1944, Romero Deschamps was a PRI party member since 1961. He served in Congress four times: twice as a federal deputy, during the 1979-1982 and 1991-1994 administrations, and twice as senator, during the 1994-2000 and 2012-2018 administrations. As a Senator from the PRI party, Romero Deschamps was among the promoters of the Energy Reform in 2013. Along with former President Enrique Peña Nieto, he championed this reform, which has faced significant criticism during the current federal government.
In parallel, he joined PEMEX in 1969. He befriended former union leader Joaquín Hernández Galicia “La Quina” while still being a truck driver, later becoming secretary general of the union in June 1993. He held his post for 26 years following four reelections. He faced numerous corruption allegations during his tenure and in the year 2000, his administration became embroiled in a scandal involving the diversion of union funds for the presidential campaign of the then PRI candidate, Francisco Labastida, a case known as "Pemexgate."
The accumulation of accusations against him led to his forced resignation in 2019 in the face of investigations by the Attorney General's Office for illicit enrichment and money laundering. At that time, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stated that Romero Deschamps was leaving his position at the state-owned company "voluntarily."
Growth of Romero Deschamps’ personal and family fortune coincided with the energy reform and the increase in debt at PEMEX, which went from US$20 billion to US$110 billion in 12 years. Upon his departure from the union, he also faced accusations of nepotism, involvement with organized crime, and even fuel theft, reaching a peak in 2019, among other accusations that remained pending at the Attorney General’s Office.