Armor-plating vehicles is a big business in Mexico and the federal government is one of the biggest customers, but there are fears that the industry could take a hit under the incoming administration’s austerity plan.
Successive governments have spent almost 1 billion pesos (US $52.7 million) to armor-plate vehicles over the past 12 years. The administrations of both Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto paid hundreds of millions of pesos each to protect politicians and high-ranking officials while on the road and security personnel during tactical operations.
All told, the Calderón-led National Action Party (PAN) government spent just under 562.4 million pesos to armor-plate vehicles, while the current Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) administration has spent 411.3 million pesos.
But will president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has already said that he will eschew personal security as one of several austerity measures he intends to adopt in office, also spend big to armor-plate state vehicles?
Esteban Hernández, general director of the Mexican Association of Automobile Armorers, fears not.
Hernández told the newspaper El Universal that he is concerned that the demand for armor-plating services will drop during the administration of the leftist political veteran commonly known as AMLO, and that the industry will suffer as a consequence.
López Obrador has already announced that he plans to slash the bureaucracy, sell off the presidential plane and cut the salaries of lawmakers and high-level officials, so the likelihood that he would dig deep into government coffers to armor more vehicles, especially those used by politicians and officials, would appear unlikely.
Government data obtained by El Universal through freedom of information requests shows that the Federal Police has been by far the biggest customer for vehicle armor-plating services over the past 12 years, spending 734.4 million pesos.
The Secretariat of the Navy has spent 92.5 million pesos in the same period, while the Bank of México spent just shy of 70 million pesos.
In total, 15 government departments and institutions have paid for the services during the current and previous administrations including the federal Attorney General’s office, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) and the Secretariat of Finance (SHCP).
According to Hernández, Mexico is one of the world’s leading exporters of armored vehicles. He said his company, Auto Safe, exported US $1 million worth of such vehicles last year.
López Obrador, who said that “the people will protect me” when explaining his decision to forgo personal security days after his landslide victory in the July 1 presidential election, will be sworn in on December 1.
Source: El Universal (sp)