Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Defense department insists airport master plan remain secret

Whether or not the blueprint for Mexico City’s new airport, slated to begin operating in 2022, should be kept classified remains a point of heated contention between branches of the current federal administration.

The National Transparency Institute (INAI) has once again ordered the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) to release the master plan for the Santa Lucía airport after it refused last year on the grounds that doing so placed national security at risk.

The order was issued at a plenary session of the INAI on Wednesday at which institute president Francisco Javier Acuña said that even though it is being built on an air force base, the airport will primarily be a civil aviation facility and therefore Sedena cannot reserve the master plan under the pretext of national security.

Acuña also said that the construction of the airport is a matter of public interest due to the size of the development, the impact it will have on commercial transactions and above all its cost, which he put at 189 billion pesos (US $10 billion).

INAI said that the full document must be released but recommended the protection of the names of employees of ADP Ingénierie, which completed the plan.

The ruling came in response to an appeal filed with INAI by an individual who last year sought a range of information about the airport project but failed to receive it even though the transparency institute ordered it be made available.

Sedena’s transparency committee issued a resolution in September that classified documents relating to the design, construction, operation and financing of the project be kept out of the public eye for five years.

“The committee confirms and formally declares all information related to the construction of the mixed military/civil international airport as reserved . . .” said the resolution.

“The disclosure of this information represents a real risk, because it could be used by members of organized crime to commit crimes of espionage, terrorism, sabotage, treason [and] genocide within national territory.”

However, Acuña said Wednesday that a document containing information similar to that in the master plan was previously in the public domain and that therefore the embargo was inappropriate.

President López Obrador pledged in October that all information related to the construction of the Santa Lucía airport would be made public.

“We’re going to reveal everything that has to do with Santa Lucía . . .We don’t have anything to hide, nothing at all,” he said.

Construction of the airport began in October and it is expected to begin operations in early 2022. Located about 50 kilometers north of central Mexico City, the México state facility is part of a three-prong plan to solve the saturation problem at the capital’s current airport.

The government is also upgrading the Mexico City airport and that of Toluca. López Obrador decided to cancel the previous government’s airport project after a legally questionable public consultation held before he took office.

He had long contended that the US $13-billion Texcoco project was corrupt, too expensive and being built on land that is sinking.

Source: Proceso (sp), Milenio (sp) 

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