Even before he was elected president, President Andrés Manuel López Obredor had pointed to Mexico’s presidential plane as a symbol of all that was wrong with the political establishment in Mexico, where leaders lived among the population in desperate need.
The $ 130 million jet was “an insult to the people”, he said, “an example of the excesses of former leaders of the country”.
When elected, he would sell the aircraft, Mr. Lopez Obredor said, and return the proceeds to the people as part of Mexico’s radical change that would end inequality, end corruption and inequality.
Since winning in a landslide in 2018, he has tried to sell, baffle or otherwise use Mexico’s Air Force One to raise money for social causes. Each time, he failed, as the reality swirled: the market for second-hand customized jets is small, and the maintenance of the Boeing Dreamliner would ruin an ordinary citizen.
Over time, the president’s efforts to make good on the promise have become more elaborate, expensive and “very awkward”, said Duncan Wood, director at the Wilson Center, a research center in Mexico DC.
“If it was an episode of Black Mirror,” he said referring to the dystopian television show, “it wouldn’t make it to the screen.”
The ruffle will be held on Tuesday. But the prize, after all, is not the plane – it is cash. One of the biggest participants is the Mexican government, which spent about $ 24 million to buy tickets and then gave them to hospitals, a chance to win the less-than-necessary funds.
His perseverance says a lot about the show-combination that characterized his presidency, and how challenging it has been for him to make good on the grand vision when confronted with real-world complexities.
Two years into his tenure, Mr. López Obredor holds a mixed record on the change he has undergone, and his high approval numbers are pulling in the face of an epidemic, economic recession, and escalating violence.
The President is conducting a big investigation into corruption scandals, but now his own brother can also join it. He cut the budget so much that some ministries are struggling to pay their electricity bills. Still it is funneling money into an oil refinery and other pet infrastructure projects.
Perfect timing for a spectacle, critics say, especially one that puts him back in the role of Robin Hood, taking over from the nation’s rich and giving to his poor.
Carlos Alazondo, a government professor at Tec de Monterrey, said “part of it is to keep alive the idea of the abusive political class of the past,” and his government “‘” but on the way, he is in an increasingly ridiculous exit strategy Is entangled. “
The president has been railing against this plane for years, which was ordered by former President Felipe Calderone, arguing that the money should be invested instead of improving conditions in Mexico.
Enrique Peña Nieto, Mr. Calderone’s successor, was later criticized for taking his family members on grand voyages for a plane trip, including his wife’s makeup artist. Following corruption scandals, Mr. Peña Nieto stepped down as one of the least popular presidents in Mexican history in 2018.
Mr. Lopez Obredor, in one of his campaign ads, directly targeted the plane, saying “not even Donald Trump” had a presidential plane like this.
As he took office, he began to try, with great pomp, to land the jet. He regularly speaks about it at hourly news conferences held every morning – one of them held in front of the Dreamliner that was kept in his hangar. As president, he talks of flying commercial.
But the offer did not begin to roll at all for the Boeing 787, which, with its king-size bed and treadmill, does not lend itself to commercial use.
As they created an uproar, Mexicans swarmed on social media about what they would do if they won the plane and suddenly had to pay for its maintenance, gas and parking.
Confronted with the dubious knowledge of delivering an airliner to a regular citizen, he nixed the idea. He decided, he decided, but about 100 prizes of $ 940,000 would be awarded each.
To promote the new plan, he invited businessmen to dinner, in which he served the rounds and passed around the sign-up sheet So they vow to buy tickets.
“The plane is a symbol he does not want to let go,” said Mexican newspaper columnist and television host Ana Paula Ordorica. “The two rally cries of this president are the fight against corruption, and austerity, and the aircraft allows him to address both.”
It is also necessary not to lose face. At the end of last month, the president released a video to buy himself a lottery ticket in the last-ditch to board a disgraced plane and encourage Mexicans to “make history” and make their own raffle.
“They still have the support to break the past and get rid of the plane,” said Ignacio Marvan, a professor at CIDE, a university in Mexico City. “He finds a way, so he is supportive and criticizes him for not going back on the decision, which is baffling.”
And yet, after spending all the time and resources to get rid of this plane, it stands in its hangar in Mexico, waiting for a suitable buyer.