Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Another school that won ‘plane raffle’ money faces charges of fraud

Another case of alleged mismanagement of money won in the 2020 “presidential plane raffle” has emerged, this time in Veracruz.

As was the case at the Manuel Pozos Primary School in Xochiapulco, Puebla, much of the 20-million-peso (about US $974,000 at today’s exchange rate) prize won by the Gregorio Torres Quintero Secondary School in Cihuateo was used on an ill-fated construction project.

In Cihuateo, located 35 kilometers south of Orizaba in the municipality of Los Reyes, 7 million pesos (about US $340,000) was supposedly spent on a project to upgrade and expand the local middle school. But despite the significant outlay, the project was never finished.

Unsurprisingly, parents of students who study at the school are unhappy about the situation, and they’re directing their anger at the committee tasked with managing the cash prize.

Angry parents display the complaint they filed against the committee.
Angry parents display the complaint they filed against the committee. Courtesy Fernando Gómez

According to a report by the newspaper El Sol de Orizaba, the parents this week went to a prosecutor’s office in the nearby town of Zongolica to demand that a complaint they filed against the committee be dealt with more quickly. They’re not only angry about the failure to complete the school project, but also upset that the committee wants to use much of the remainder of the money for a road project.

In an interview with El Sol, the disgruntled parents said that it had been agreed that the rest of the money would be used for improvement projects at a preschool, primary school and church in Cihuateo. However, the committee has instead approved an 8-million-peso project to pave eight kilometers of a local road, they said.

The parents said that residents were not given an opportunity to have their say about that plan. They stressed that they are not seeking any personal benefit from the money won in the raffle, but want the funds to be used for the good of the community, in the way residents agreed to use them.

A lawyer for the parents, Alfonso Cortés Gómez, told El Sol that his clients have knowledge that the committee has made improper use of the funds won in the raffle and has tried to conceal its fraud. The committee, the parents say, has refused on repeatedly occasions to disclose how the money has been used. They also suggested that the person in charge of the incomplete school project is complicit with the alleged fraudsters on the committee.

The Gregorio Torres Quintero Secondary School was among 100 winners of 20-million-peso prizes in the raffle, which was drawn on September 15, 2020.

The combined prize pool was roughly equivalent to the value of the unwanted presidential plane, which was to be the prize until the government realized that owning and maintaining a luxuriously-outfitted Boeing 787 Dreamliner would be impractical for most Mexicans.

With reports from El Sol de Orizaba

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