26 | MAR | 2019
Mexicans oppose the Texcoco airport; AMLO confirms Santa Lucía project
The President-elect called for the referendum - Photo: Lucía Godinez/EL UNIVERSAL

Mexicans oppose the Texcoco airport; AMLO confirms Santa Lucía project

29/10/2018
11:34
Reuters
Mexico City
Christine Murray, Noe Torres
-A +A
Companies owned by the family of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim were co-designing, co-financing, and co-building the Texcoco project

Mexicans voted to stop the construction of the USD $13 billion airport in Mexico City, in a divisive referendum pushed for by President-elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a blow to business leaders such as Carlos Slim, and causing the peso to slide.

Roughly a million people, just 1% of Mexico’s electorate, participated in the referendum held over four days, the Arturo Rosenblueth Foundation, the non-profit organization that supervised the count, said on Sunday.

Almost 70% voted against the new airport, it said.

Called as a “public consultation”, the vote is non-binding, but the leftist López Obrador, who had called for the referendum and was against the new airport, has pledged to respect the result.

The peso weakened 2% against the dollar after the results were announced, making it by far the biggest loser among major currencies against the dollar.

The public was asked if the next government should finish the new airport to replace the current hub, or add two runways to convert a military air base in Santa Lucía, around 50 km north of the capital, and keep the current airport.

During his presidential campaign, López Obrador, who takes office on December 1, argued that the new airport was tainted by corruption and would be expensive to maintain due to the geological complexity of the land. It has been under construction on the drained bed of Lake Texcoco, east of Mexico City, since 2015.
 

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Companies owned by the family of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, once the world’s richest man, were co-designing, co-financing, and co-building the Texcoco project. Mexico’s pension funds founded the project.

Gustavo de Hoyos, head of Employers’ Confederation (Coparmex), urged López Obrador to finish the Texcoco project, one of the flagship public works of outgoing President, Enrique Peña Nieto.

Canceling the new airport would cost about MXN $120 billion, the Grupo Aeroportuario de la Ciudad de México (GACM), which has been handling the project, said earlier this year.

CRYING FOUL

The public vote was organized by López Obrador’s party, Morena, without the national electoral authority INE. Opposition parties say that the consultation did not follow the law.

Several local media outlets reported cases of people who were able to vote more than once, and highlighted failures in software used to register voter identification cards.

Morena legislators sought to cast the vote as a referendum on the business ties of the PRI government, whose credibility is battered by allegations of corruption and conflicts-of-interest.

“The markets have our respect, but this decision was for the people to make,” Martí Batres, the leader of the Senate and a senior member of Morena, said.

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