MEXICO CITY – The auction for Mexico’s luxury presidential plane will be another multi-million dollar lottery, money-wise, but without the long-awaited dream of taking home Latin America’s most emblematic aircraft, which has caused mixed feelings among Mexicans.
After days of “analysis, reflections and consultations,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced on Friday his decision to raffle the plane, which will be monetized to be distributed among 100 potential winners on Sept. 15.
“[The plane] is going to be converted into money, we are considering giving prizes to the 100 winners of 20 million pesos [$1.06 million] each,” Lopez Obrador said at a press conference.
The presidential decision to grant cash prizes broke his original idea of raffling the presidential plane, an announcement that generated so many jokes on social media about parking space or using it at home.
Some citizens, such as Luis Perez, said the raffle “is barbaric,” although he said he was willing to buy one of the 6 million 500-peso tickets (about $26.6) up for sale from March 1.
David Gonzalez, a private company employee, said raffling the plane “is a mockery.”
“It is ridiculous” because its maintenance alone has cost “more than if it would be used,” he said. “The plane would have been used by him (Lopez Obrador), because he is a president, to travel, not to raffle it or sell it. It was complimentary for the president, to travel, maybe to the Netherlands or Europe, and not as he does, in cars,” he told EFE.
Others such as Jaime Castillo, an educational worker, expressed his full support for the presidential decision, especially since the money will be used to provide equipment to various hospitals.
Dora Maria Marchena supports Lopez Obrador in what she calls a “transcendental situation.”
“It is something that resulted from mistakes and when something starts badly; it is very difficult to achieve a good end result, but we hope everything goes well for the benefit of hospitals in Mexico,” he said.
Rocio Baeza told EFE the luxury of the aircraft is critical to the evidence that even presidents of other countries and people of lower rank “consider the plane to be very expensive.”
“For us, who [as a country] are still developing, I think it’s an extra luxury,” he added.
Support among Mexicans on this issue was in favor of Lopez Obrador with 70 percent, according to Alejandro Zamudio, who also declared himself informed firsthand about the raffle.
“The raffle is going to be done by hospitals. The humble people are going to have, I hope, more equipment for the hospitals, more well-being for the people. I think Mexico is a little more informed than before. They did everything and we never found out; today we know what it is,” he added.
Whether the raffle is a success, the precious jewel of presidential aviation – a plane “neither Obama nor Trump” had, as Lopez Obrador said – will remain in hands of the Mexican Air Force.
The lottery will fetch 3 trillion pesos (about $160 million). Most of it will go to the 100 winners, while others will be shared among ticket sellers and the Air Force to maintain the plane over the next two years, the president said.
Lopez Obrador said just having a raffle ticket “is historic,” and compared Egyptian pharaohs to previous Mexican governments, who bought large planes while the people remained in poverty.
“How is a president going to move in a luxury plane with more than 60 million Mexicans in poverty?” the Mexican president said.