President López Obrador bought the first raffle ticket for the presidential plane at his Tuesday morning press conference and announced that the tickets would go on sale to the public next Monday.
He said that the raffle will act as a kind of “vaccine” against government corruption, claiming “we’ll see if someone dares to do something like this again.”
López Obrador has refused to fly in the luxuriously outfitted plane used by the former president, and it is currently in a hangar in California, where the costs of its upkeep have totaled almost as much as actually flying it. He said it will be returned to Mexico after maintenance work is finished.
National Lottery director Ernesto Prieto announced that the tickets were distributed all over the country on Monday. The ticket numbers run from seven zeros to 5,999,999.
“Today I am going to turn in the first ticket sale for the presidential plane. I’m going to hand over number 0 so that [President López Obrador] can pay with this 500-peso bill,” he said at Tuesday’s morning press conference.
The president attempted to sell the Boeing 787 Dreamliner used by his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto, for domestic and international flights but unable to find a buyer, decided to hold a raffle for it in January. The plane had a price tag of US $130 million.
The raffle has been described by opposition politicians as a smokescreen intended to divert the public’s attention away from insecurity and slow economic growth.
At the press conference, López Obrador showed reporters a photo of Peña Nieto aboard the presidential plane with members of his cabinet and called them “pharaohs” and “sexennial monarchs.”
“Those were the times of pharaohs, of sexennial monarchs, and it wasn’t just the previous government. Let’s not forget that it was Calderón who bought the plane,” he said, reminding the press that the Dreamliner is a long-haul aircraft not meant for domestic flights.
“It’s for flying [at least] five hours daily … and landing it after a relatively short distance is not recommended.”
He said that once the plane is returned to Mexico in April or May, his administration will organize public visits “because this is a vaccine against this epidemic [of corruption], a good preventative vaccine.”