The federal government is planning to build luxury apartments on a military site in Mexico City in order to partially fund the new National Guard.
President López Obrador said this morning that the sale of apartments in the proposed residential development on the Santa Fe site would earn the government between 20 and 30 billion pesos (US $1 billion to $1.5 billion).
The previous government had planned to sell off the 100-hectare site but scrapped the plan in July.
Money earned from the project would go to building 80 “facilities” for the National Guard across the whole country, López Obrador said, referring primarily to barracks.
“I’m going to defend the project because it means getting around 20 billion or 30 billion pesos, which we would use to build the facilities we need for the National Guard . . .” he said.
“If we see that a consultation is required, we’ll consult, when we have the project [ready], we’ll present it but the citizens will decide, that’s the important way to address this issue,” the president explained.
However, later in his morning press conference, López Obrador seemed to indicate that his mind was already made up.
“We’re going to do it because we need the resources, 266 [National Guard] contingents are needed to guarantee public security and 120,000 to 150,000 elements are needed and they require facilities . . . because there are currently no facilities, there are no elements, it’s a disaster, they [the past government] didn’t care about citizens’ security,” he said.
López Obrador rejected any suggestion that Santa Fe – a business district in the west of the capital – would become overpopulated.
He explained that the Secretariat of Defense would be responsible for construction of the project, which would cover 30 hectares of the military site.
The other 70 hectares will become parkland that will link up with the Chapultepec Forest.
“It won’t become saturated, we’re talking about leaving most of the property as green area, it’s not going to be a private property developer [who completes the project], it’s not a private deal, it’s the very government, in this case the Secretariat of Defense who will carry out the urbanization in accordance with regulations . . .” López Obrador said.
Prior to today’s announcement, Interior Secretary undersecretary Zoé Robledo said the government was considering the project but explained that finding the money to undertake it was a challenge.
After the last government’s plans to sell the site became public early this year, local residents argued that a new residential development would place further pressure on already stretched infrastructure in the area.
At the time, real estate experts speculated that the land could fetch up to US $1 billion.
The new government’s National Guard proposal also got a cool reception from some security analysts and several non-governmental organizations, that argued that it would only perpetuate the unsuccessful militarization model implemented by former president Felipe Calderón in 2006 and continued by the last federal government.
Human Rights Watch called the government’s new security strategy a “colossal mistake” and “potentially disastrous.”