Friday, April 12, 2024

AMLO completes first interoceanic passenger train trip

President López Obrador rode the rails from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, waving to people in towns and villages along the route. 

The president’s first test ride on the interoceanic passenger train covered approximately 308 kilometers from Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, to Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz.

AMLO waving train
The President greeted residents of towns and villages along the new rail route. (Presidencia/Cuartoscuro)

The passenger train is part of the Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (CIIT), a US $1 billion project including a seaport-to-seaport train line for cargo that Mexican officials have compared to a “cheaper and faster” Panama Canal.

A month ago, López Obrador rode several sections of the train on a three-day inspection. But Sunday’s ride was his first trip along the entire route, and AMLO seemed to be blown away by the experience.

“The people of the villages are euphoric,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “The voice of the people, according to laymen, is the voice of history and, according to believers, it is the voice of God.”

On X, he posted a video showing dozens of citizens and railway workers waving to him along the tracks. Morena presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum then shared it and added her own message.

The current Morena government has championed large infrastructure projects, particularly in the country’s poorer south, from which President López Obrador originally hails. (Presidencia/Cuartoscuro)

“When a government is of the people and for the people, there are images like this that remain recorded in history,” wrote Sheinbaum, who received the “baton of command” from AMLO as leader of the “fourth transformation,” a term used by the current government that compares the causes it is championing to Mexico’s first three transformations: the War of Independence (1810–1821), the Reform War (1858–1861) and the Mexican Revolution (1910–1917).

López Obrador made the journey with Governor Salomón Jara Cruz of Oaxaca, Governor Cuitláhuac García of Veracruz and members of his cabinet, including Navy Minister José Rafael Ojeda Durán, Interior Minister Luisa María Alcalde and Head of the Agriculture, Territorial and Urban Development Ministry (Sedatu) Román Meyer.

“A historic moment!” Jara Cruz wrote in one of his seven X posts about the test run. He and others also posted videos showing people applauding the train in rural areas – on tracks that hadn’t been used for passenger travel since President Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000) privatized the railway sector.

“More than 25 years without a passenger train passing,” the Interior Ministry wrote via its official accounts, according to the newspaper Milenio. “The people are happy.”

The new line will provide rapid coast-to-coast rail transit in a traditionally underserved region of Mexico. (Presidencia/Cuartoscuro)

The project over Mexico’s narrowest stretch between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean also includes a freight train route, which Mexican officials say will be able to transport 1.4 million shipping containers annually on journeys of less than 6 hours. 

Economy Minister Raquel Buenrostro has said the trade corridor could in future account for as much as 5% of Mexico’s GDP.

Forbes reported that the new passenger route is expected to be inaugurated next October, though AMLO said last month that the train will be operational before his term ends on Sept 30, 2024.

With reports from Milenio, La Jornada and Forbes

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