As the coronavirus crisis threatens to take more lives and inflict heavy economic damage, the federal government has ponied up 511 million pesos (US $21.5 million) to complete the purchase of a baseball stadium in Sonora, triggering a barrage of criticism on social media.
Sonora Finance Minister Raúl Navarro Gallegos said on Thursday that the federal development bank Banobras had transferred the funds for the purchase of the Héctor Espino stadium in Hermosillo. The state will spend the resources on pensions, public security, hospital infrastructure and medical supplies, he said.
President López Obrador announced last August that the government would pay the state just over 1 billion pesos to purchase the baseball stadium in Hermosillo and another in Ciudad Obregón.
The stadiums will become baseball schools, offering regular middle school and high school classes in addition to training would-be major league stars. The possibility of allowing private companies to build hotels and shopping centers in the stadium precincts was also under consideration, said López Obrador, whose favorite sport is baseball.
The news that the sale for the Hermosillo stadium has been completed sparked an outpouring of critical commentary on Twitter.
Clemente Castañeda, a federal senator with the Citizens’ Movement party, called the government’s outlay “irrational and insensitive” considering that the country is in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The deficiencies in the health sector are many and resolving them is not among [López Obrador’s] priorities. He’s making a mistake by not devoting all his efforts and resources to saving lives,” he said.
The Jalisco senator said that the 511 million pesos spent on the stadium could have been used to purchase 472,000 protective suits for medical personnel treating Covid-19 patients.
Ricardo Alemán, a prominent journalist, also delivered a scathing assessment of the stadium purchase.
“Without a doubt López Obrador is making history! Thousands of people dead and he spent millions on a baseball stadium. It leaves him in the class of idiots like Nero, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and close to the criminal [Idi] Amin of Uganda! Or no? And idiots who deny that he is a danger for Mexico abound!” he wrote on Twitter.
The president and the government were also heavily criticized by hundreds of other Twitter users who said that the money should have been spent on personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies for frontline health workers.
Medical personnel across the country have held numerous protests to demand PPE as Mexico’s Covid-19 outbreak worsens and health workers in at least 15 states are threatening to go on strike if the director of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) does not provide them with the equipment they need to protect themselves.
Source: Reforma (sp)