Mexico: Amlo says sale of presidential plane will fund migrant crackdown

Funds from sale of Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s jet will be put toward the deployment of the newly formed national guard

Andrés Manuel López Obrador has promised to fund a crackdown on migrants to Mexico from Central America with proceeds from the sale of his office’s aircraft, a 787 Dreamliner which has been on offer since shortly after the Mexican president took office in December.

Funds from the sale would be put toward the deployment of the newly formed national guard which has the power to detain migrants without correct papers, López Obrador said on Wednesday.

Under the deal struck on Friday, Mexico agreed to enforce the new measures to stop migrants crossing its territory in order to head off Donald Trump’s threat of imposing import tariffs of 5% on Mexican goods.

Mexico promised to send 6,000 members of the militarized national guard to seal its porous southern border with Guatemala – a major route for migrants fleeing violence, poverty and climate change.

López Obrador, also known as Amlo, insisted that the agreement had averted an economic and financial crisis and was “a good deal for our country”.

“About how much this plan is going to cost, let me say, we have the budget,” Amlo said at a daily news conference. “It would come out of what we’re going to receive from the sale of the luxurious presidential plane.”

Amlo said the starting price for the plane would be $150m. He expected the sale to close this week.

On Tuesday, the foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said the immigration deal would be revisited in 45 days and a regional deal with countries in Central and South America would be sought if the migrant flows failed to slow.

But critics pointed out that the new national guard was initially presented as a force to fight organized crime and rein in Mexico’s soaring murder rate.

“Now they’re using this national guard not only to pacify the country, but for the detention of migrants,” said Alberto Xicoténcatl, director of the migrant shelter in the city of Saltillo. “It strikes us as a hypocritical discourse.”

Making good on his promise to rule with frugality and restraint, López Obrador regularly travels on commercial flights rather than the presidential plane, for which he said Mexico had paid up to 8bn pesos ($392m).

On Tuesday, El Universal newspaper reported that during the first three years of the preceding administration, 746 bottles of alcohol were consumed on the aircraft – including 35 bottles of booze which were opened on a short flight from Mexico City to Acapulco.

In contrast to his predecessor Enrique Peña Nieto, López Obrador has shown little interest in foreign travel, arguing there are too many problems at home. He has not left the country since taking office and has said he will skip the upcoming G20 conference in Japan.

“Mexicans associate presidential travel with waste,” said Rodolfo Soriano-Núñez, a sociologist in Mexico City.

Contributor

David Agren in Mexicali

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
'It's a comfy plane': Mexico's Amlo seeks buyer for presidential jet
Leftist president-elect has promised to travel on commercial flights in push to rule with frugality and restraint

Tom Phillips in Mexico City

12, Nov, 2018 @4:58 PM

Article image
Mexico elections: President Amlo fails to win super-majority in midterms
But president’s Morena party keeps its majority in the lower house of congress

David Agren in Mexico City

07, Jun, 2021 @6:57 PM

Article image
Prominent Mexican journalist fired after call to kill presidential hopeful Amlo
After tweeting a call to assassinate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, two Mexican media outlets cut ties with the journalist, Ricardo Alemán

David Agren in Mexico City

07, May, 2018 @8:44 PM

Article image
Fate of US brewery in drought-hit Mexico goes to Amlo poll
President continues direct democracy drive that critics say is skewed towards his desired outcome

David Agren in Mexico City

20, Mar, 2020 @10:00 AM

Article image
President Amlo takes power with vow to transform Mexico – but can he deliver?
Leftwinger to be sworn in as president on wave of hope that he can fix poverty and corruption on behalf of ordinary Mexicans

David Agren in Tijuana

01, Dec, 2018 @6:30 AM

Article image
'Hopefully he's different': Mexico seems poised to elect Amlo as next president
Pre-ballot polls suggest leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador will be elected president as 89 million Mexicans head to polls on Sunday

Tom Phillips and David Agren in Mexico City

01, Jul, 2018 @4:26 PM

Article image
Mexico election: voters head to polls as leftist Amlo expected to cruise to victory
Election comes against a backdrop of widespread exasperation with political sleaze and soaring violence

Tom Phillips in Mexico City

01, Jul, 2018 @6:00 AM

Article image
'We're in the abyss': how despair in Mexico set 'Amlo' on verge of presidency
Violence, corruption and poverty explain why Andrés Manuel López Obrador is the frontrunner in presidential election, experts say

Tom Phillips in Ecatepec

30, Jun, 2018 @6:30 AM

Article image
Mexico's Amlo says El Chapo 'had the same power' as past presidents
López Obrador took a blow at his predecessors while claiming Mexico’s era of corruption is ‘gone to the garbage dump of history’

Staff and agencies in Mexico City

01, Jan, 2020 @7:12 PM

Article image
Fury as Mexico presidential candidate pitches amnesty for drug cartel kingpins
Andrés Manuel López Obrador says he wants a dialogue on the drug war that has cost the country an estimated 200,000 lives over the last decade

David Agren in Mexico City

04, Dec, 2017 @10:12 PM