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Opinion
Ricardo Castillo
Ricardo Castillo Airport Land Grab In this upcoming feud expect the participation of batteries of lawyers trying to define the real owner of the property
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A rift has emerged over the future of that fine piece of real estate property that is currently the Mexico City Benito Juárez International Airport.

The two contenders are CDMX (the new moniker for Ciudad de México) mayor or governor, or whatever, Miguel Ángel Mancera and Transportation and Communications Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Esparza.

Mancera says that once the new airport facility is ready, it will be the “true owners,” that is, the people of CDMX who will define what to do with the land.

Not so, responds Ruiz Esparza, because that land is federal property and it will be the federal government who will decide what to do with it once it is vacated.

Nobody yet has clear plans for it, but there are some ideas. Mancera foresees that it may become a forest and serve as a new “lung” for the area’s foul air fumes.

The head of Communications and Transportation Secretariat, Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, announces a private investment to renovate the Benito Juárez International Airport. Photo: Notimex

The head of Communications and Transportation Secretariat, Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, announces a private investment to renovate the Benito Juárez International Airport. Photo: Notimex

Ruiz Esparza sees as a real waste doing away with the already created infrastructure as zillions have been invested in it over the years and old or not, it stills serves its purpose as a takeoff and landing platform for national and international flights.

A third group in the dispute is an invisible opinion monger that is made up of real estate professionals who see the possibility of getting their hands into the huge property to do what they do best: sell it for profit. Their lobbyists are operating underground for now surely paving the way for the moment when all operations move to the new airport, allegedly circa 2019.

Also, civilian interest groups are opining on the subject and for the moment forming loose organizations that will surely have a say when the new airport matures. Among the first propositions from non-government groups is that CDMX hold a referendum with the different proposals and let it be the people of CDMX who have the final say.

The fact that the grab for the old airport starts now seems to be only natural in terms of timing. At least the two competing authorities, CDMX and the federal government, have stated their cases as their “constitutional” right to do what seems best for them with the prime time land.

In this upcoming feud expect the participation of batteries of lawyers trying to define the real owner of the property.

In whatever direction this new and interesting land grab in Mexico City moves, it will be of interest because not only will it affect the at least three million people who live in the airport surroundings, but also because the size of the money in play is, to minimalize it, humongous.

This is not a conflict that will be solved by the two first contenders, Mancera or Ruiz Esparza, but it is an institutional litigation that seems to be part of the larger trend of separating CDMX from the tight grip of the federal government and eventually turn it into an independent state.

Be as it may for the moment, there will be a time when that dry piece of flat and treeless property will be pure gold.

And that’s why Mancera and Ruiz Esparza are making their moves now.

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