Tuesday, May 21, 2024

AMLO announces luxury presidential plane’s sale to Tajikistan

A PREVIOUS VERSION OF THIS STORY WAS UPDATED ON APRIL 21 TO REFLECT NEW INFORMATION.

The Mexican presidential plane used by former president Enrique Peña Nieto has been sold to Tajikistan for 1.66 billion pesos (about US $92 million), and part of the proceeds will be used to fund two new IMSS hospitals, President López Obrador announced on Friday.

“The truth is, we’re happy because the ostentatious presidential plane is sold,” said the president, who also mentioned during his press conference Friday morning in Veracruz that his administration had been trying to sell the plane to the U.S. for years — first to former U.S. president Donald Trump, then to current president Joe Biden and also to Biden’s vice-president, Kamala Harris.

President Lopez Obrador has said that some proceeds of the sale will go to building two hospitals in the most needed areas of the country. (Moisés Pablo Nava/Cuartoscuro)

On Thursday, while announcing that a deal for the plane was in the works with a then-undisclosed buyer, AMLO mentioned that he’d recently offered Biden a deal where the two countries would exchange the plane for U.S. cargo aircraft and firefighting helicopters.

Some of the proceeds of the sale will go to build two social welfare hospitals: one will be an 80-bed facility for children with disabilities in the extremely poor area of Tlapa, Guerrero, meant to replace an existing, 50-year-old hospital that the president said is in “bad shape.” The other will be a hospital in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, which will also provide needed services to the region of Papaloapanan in Veracruz, the president said.

Both hospitals will be built by the Defense Ministry (Sedena), the president said. The one in Tlapa will not be built on the site of the current deteriorating one, he added, but on Sedena-owned land in order to avoid demolishing the current facility.

According to a post on the president’s Twitter page on Friday, the government of Tajikistan has deposited the sale money to Mexico’s national development bank, Banobras, into an account belonging to the government-created Institute for Return to the People That Which Was Robbed. Reuters reported that Tajikistan’s government has about 10 days to take possession of the custom-built Boeing 787 Dreamliner — which features marble accents, multiple flat-screen monitors and other luxuries.

Outgoing Mexican president Felipe Calderon with incoming president Enrique Pena Nieto
When Mexico’s exiting president Felipe Calderón, left, passed the baton to his successor, Enrique Peña Nieto, right, he also passed on the luxury plane that his administration bought but he never got to use. (Aarón Sánchez/Cuartoscuro

Selling the plane, which was purchased in 2012 by the Felipe Calderón administration and used by the subsequent Enrique Peña Nieto government, represents the long-awaited fulfillment of one of AMLO’s campaign promises. Selling the plane, he has said, would be a symbol that things in Mexico’s government were no longer the way they were when “corrupt” officials ran things.

On Friday, he told reporters that Calderón and Peña Nieto had run Mexico like “little pharaohs.” 

Forbes México reported that Peña Nieto’s government spent 342 million pesos (US $19 million at current rate) on national and international travel during his first three years in office, while López Obrador’s expenditure from 2018–21 was 18.9 million pesos (US $1 million). AMLO has also traveled far less frequently overseas than previous presidents.

With reports from Forbes México, Latinus, 24 Horas,  Quadratin and El Sol de México

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