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Obrador@ (Adds President Lopez Obrador's comments, Moody's Investors Service, background)
MEXICO CITY, March 5 (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador claimed on Tuesday ratings agencies were "punishing" Mexico for the neo-liberal policies of his predecessors over the past 36 years, after Standard & Poor's (S&P) slashed the credit rating for state oil firm Pemex.
"The country is being punished for the neo-liberal policies that were implemented during the last 36 years, which were a complete failure in recent years," said leftist populist Lopez Obrador, who took office on Dec. 1.
"It was an inefficient economic policy ... Neo-liberalism in Mexico is synonymous with corruption and theft."
Lopez Obrador came to power on a platform vowing to root out entrenched corruption and to combat inequality and poverty, which he says are the country's biggest scourges.
S&P on Monday cut its stand-alone assessment of Pemex to 'B-' from 'BB-', piling more pressure on the government to tighten up the debt-laden oil firm's finances.
The credit rating agency also lowered the credit outlooks for a range of major Mexican financial institutions and companies, including telecommunications giant America Movil and Coca-Cola Femsa, the world's largest Coke bottler.
Lopez Obrador has in the past dismissed ratings agencies' assessments, and he has repeatedly pledged to revive Pemex, which had financial debt of nearly $106 billion at the end of 2018.
On Monday he again promised to "rescue" Pemex, as well as the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).
His government aims to boost Pemex's oil output, which dropped to just 1.62 million barrels per day in January, the lowest since public records began in 1990.
Last month, Lopez Obrador said his government would inject $3.9 billion into Pemex to strengthen its finances and prevent a further credit downgrade, shortly after rating agency Fitch cut the company to just one level above junk status.
Separately, Moody's Investors Service said in a report on Tuesday that intensifying violence and crime in Mexico raised concerns about security-related credit risks for companies and economic risks for states and municipalities.
"Increasing insecurity, robbery and travel warnings hurt Mexican companies' top lines and profitability, and will particularly weaken revenue and margins over the next 12-18 months for the oil industry and hotels and resorts," said Moody's Vice President Alonso Sanchez. (Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Diego Ore; Editing by Bernadette Baum)