MEXICO CITY – President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced on Tuesday that the Mexican government will auction off hundreds of official vehicles to finance the National Guard, a new public safety force.
Roughly 200 vehicles are to be sold in a Feb. 23-24 auction at Santa Lucia military base, the president said at his daily morning press conference.
The auction will include 171 SUVs, seven tractor-trailers, 23 pickup trucks, nine compact autos, 30 motorcycles, 12 trucks, two tractors, two buses, five tow trucks and two luxury passenger vehicles with armor plating.
Lopez Obrador said buyers will be investigated to ensure that the money does not come from illicit activities.
He said that this first auction will raise up to 100 million pesos ($5.2 million), which will be used as part of the funding for the National Guard – to be composed of soldiers, marines and federal police.
The Mexican government will hold a second auction to move 76 aircraft and helicopters set for April 26-27 at the Santa Lucia base.
The plan “to finance the development of the country consists basically of ending and banishing the country’s corruption, and in implementing a state policy and one of republican austerity,” the leftist president said.
Upon taking office Dec. 1, Lopez Obrador fulfilled one of his campaign promises by slashing the presidential salary 60 percent to 108,000 pesos (roughly $5,500) a month and asking Congress, which is controlled by his Morena party, to bar any other public servant from making more than that.
Tuesday’s announcement comes nearly two months after Mexico’s presidential jet was flown to the Boeing facility in Victorville, California, for safe storage pending a sale.
The Boeing 787-8 was acquired in 2012 by then-President Felipe Calderon, although it did not arrive in Mexico until February 2016, during the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto, amid criticism for its $218.7 million price tag.
Republican austerity has also been applied to Lopez Obrador’s living predecessors, as the budget for 2019 includes no money for presidential pensions.
“We’re avoiding extravagant spending, there’s been so much money squandered,” Lopez Obrador said in December, pointing out that some former presidents were receiving pensions of more than $10,000 a month.
Annual per capita income in Mexico is $8,902, according to the World Bank.