Things That Matter

The President Of Mexico Has Been Trying To Sell His Presidential Jet As Part Of His Austerity Program—But No One Will Buy It

The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has made selling off the luxurious presidential jet a centerpiece of his austerity program, but there’s just one problem: nobody wants to buy a presidential jet —and the luxurious vessel just keeps accruing maintenance costs. 

The jet was on sale in the US for over a year —and it accrued quite the maintenance bill.

López Obrador said on Tuesday the Boeing Dreamliner will be returned to Mexico after a year on sale in the United States, where it piled up about $1.5m in maintenance costs.

Surprisingly, nobody wanted to buy the plane.

Bought by his predecessor Enrique Peña Nieto, the jet was reconfigured to carry only 80 people – albeit with a full presidential suite with a bedroom and private bath. López Obrador said potential buyers had been unable to obtain financing for the purchase.

AMLO wants to sell—or maybe even rent it out—to be able to pay it off.

Among the ideas López Obrador is now entertaining is to sell it to a consortium of companies for executive incentive programs, rent it out or barter it for needed goods, in hopes of paying off the remainder of the purchase price.

The Mexican president hoped to destine the funds from the extravagant plane, toward social programs —but the sale hasn’t been possible.

Gone are the hopes it would raise a lot of money for anti-poverty programs. Mexico is now just hoping to cut its losses on the plane, which is too expensive to reconfigure back into a commercial airliner that normally carries as many as 300 passengers.

AMLO avoids traveling abroad and only takes commercial flights.

Lopez Obrador, who has opted to fly tourist class on regular commercial flights and avoids traveling abroad, has long railed against perks provided for public servants. Whenever possible, he likes to travel by ground in an SUV, and over the weekend posted a photo of himself waiting on the side of a road while a flat tire was repaired.

According to the president, the luxurious plane has no place in a country that is struggling with such high levels of poverty.

“Luxury planes have nothing to do with the reality of poverty that exists in our country,” Lopez Obrador said at his daily news conference. “It’s an expression of two worlds: the world of the people and the world of the rulers.” “The officials felt like kings, they were like a … monarchy with lives full of luxury and privilege,” he added.

The Mexican government did receive offers.

The government said it had received two offers above value for the aircraft, which a promotional brochure dubbed the “pride of a nation” alongside photos of its marble bathroom, king-size bed and plush seats for 80 passengers.

However, Lopez Obrador said the potential buyers were unable to secure financing and the deals fell through.

“We want to resolve this already,” he said. “The longer we have this fleet, the more it costs us.” The plane’s storage and upkeep in California had cost Mexico some 30 million pesos ($1.60 million), the president said. The plane was in California to be exhibited for potential buyers and to undergo maintenance work, he said.

The president has also forbidden his cabinet from taking trips in government-owned executive jets.

And on Tuesday he also announced a series of auctions that will sell off a total of 39 government-owned helicopters and 33 executive jets and small planes. The government is offering 19 planes and nine helicopters for sale in a first round of auctions, which it hopes will raise over $1 billion. Most of the aircraft in the first lot were used by the army, navy and president’s office.

Critics wonder whether there will be enough vehicles to use for key governmental efforts.

Many of the planes to auctioned off in later rounds belonged to the Attorney General’s Office, raising the question of whether the sales could threaten key governmental tasks like law enforcement in drug detection and eradication programs. López Obrador said there would still be enough aircraft to carry out needed tasks in disasters and emergencies.

In the end, the jet might be traded for equipment needed by the government.

According to The New York Times, Lopez Obrador said there had been discussions with the United States about a possible sale via payment in exchange for X-ray machines, ambulances and other medical equipment.

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Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

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Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

FRANCISCO ROBLES/AFP via Getty Images

It’s an election year in Mexico and that means that things are heating up as candidates fight for the top spot. At the same time, Mexico is experiencing a burgeoning fight for women’s rights that demands accountability and justice. Despite all the marches and protests and civil disobedience by hundreds of thousands of Mexicans, it remains to be seen how much change will happen and when. 

Case in point: Félix Salgado, a candidate for governor of Guerrero who has been accused of rape and sexual assault but maintains the support of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). Now, after being disqualified from the race because of undisclosed campaign finances, the candidate is vowing to block any elections from taking place unless he is allowed to continue his campaign. 

A disqualified candidate is vowing to block elections unless he’s allowed to run.

Félix Salgado was running to be governor of the Mexican state of Guerrero when he was faced with allegations of rape and sexual assault. The commission that selects party candidates allowed him to remain in the race and he continues to maintain the support of President AMLO – who is of the same political party, Morena. 

However, in late March, election regulators ordered that Salgado be taken off the ballot due to a failure to report campaign spending, according to the AP. Mexico’s electoral court ordered the Federal Electoral Institute (FEI) to reconsider their decision last week. Salgado is already threatening to throw the election process into chaos.

“If we are on the ballot, there will be elections,” Salgado told supporters in Guerrero after leading a caravan of protestors to the FEI’s office in Mexico City on Sunday. “If we are not on the ballot, there will not be any elections,” Salgado said.

The AP notes that Salgado is not making an empty threat. Guerrero is an embattled state overrun with violence and drug gangs and many elections have been previously disrupted. Past governors have been forced out of office before finishing their terms. Salgado was previously filmed getting into a confrontation with police in 2000.

It was just weeks ago that the ruling party allowed Salgado’s candidacy to move forward.

In mid-March, Morena confirmed that Félix Salgado would be its candidate for governor in Guerrero after completing a new selection process in which the former senator was reportedly pitted against four women.

Morena polled citizens in Guerrero last weekend to determine levels of support for five different possible candidates, according to media reports. Among the four women who were included in the process were Acapulco Mayor Adela Román and Senator Nestora Salgado.

Félix Salgado was the clear winner of the survey, even coming out on top when those polled were asked to opine on the potential candidates’ respect for the rights of women. He also prevailed in all other categories including honesty and knowledge of the municipality in which the poll respondents lived.

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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