MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador voted on Thursday in a public consultation on whether or not to proceed with a $13.3 billion project to build a new airport serving the country’s capital.
Speaking before casting his ballot at a polling station on Mexico City’s south side, one of 1,073 set up in 538 municipalities nationwide, Lopez Obrador urged his fellow citizens to vote without concern for the potential economic repercussions of their decision.
“Let’s have all our citizens decide without fear; there’s nothing to be afraid of,” said the leftist-nationalist politician known as AMLO, who was elected in July but will not take office until Dec. 1.
Citizens have between Thursday and Sunday to weigh in on whether they want construction work to proceed on the new Mexico City International Airport (NAICM), which is approximately 30 percent completed.
AMLO says he will abide by the result of the consultation process for the airport, one of whose chief investors and building contractors is telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim, formerly the world’s wealthiest individual.
A possible alternative is to scrap the project and instead upgrade the capital’s existing airport, whose operations would be combined with the airport in the nearby city of Toluca and with the Santa Lucia air force base, which no longer would exclusively be a military facility.
The president-elect lamented that some Mexican media are reporting that a vote against the new airport, which would be Latin America’s largest, would trigger economic uncertainty and cause the peso to depreciate relative to the United States dollar.
Lopez Obrador was once vehemently opposed to the NAICM, saying the project was marred by corruption and calling for it to be cancelled in its entirety.
He moderated his position during the campaign, however, and finally announced as president-elect that it would be up to the Mexican people to decide the fate of the flagship project of departing President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration.