It’d seem that the job of presidential candidates everywhere is to strike terror instead of hope in the hearts of those they will affect if they are voted president.
One candidate who is doing just that in Mexico is Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) of the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) political party who is the only presidential hopeful who’s been running a campaign since he lost to current President Enrique Peña Nieto in 2012.
In an interview last Monday, AMLO clearly stated that if elected in 2018, he will strike down the New Mexico City International Airport (NAICM) project stated to be open by 2019 at the latest. Construction is going full steam ahead and the amount of money already invested in it by the President Peña Nieto Administration is already up to 115 billion pesos ($6 billion) with 65 percent of the works already awarded to different construction companies.
AMLO alleges first of all that NAICM is being built over the old bed of Texcoco Lake which geologists have determined that is not sound for a heavy duty airport given the sandstone nature of the deep underground. This, of course, Peña Nieto knew before he embarked on this venture but still went ahead with the project.
AMLO says that CDMX (Mexico City) indeed needs a new airport and his option would be to build it on solid ground and nothing more solid than the Santa Lucía Air Force base north of the city and the Teotihuacán Pyramids. That would strip the Army from its base where it keeps a veritable junk yard of World War II airplanes as well as the Air Museum and a plush residential area for the military brass.
Definitely, Santa Lucía would have been a better option but with each new Administration in Mexico new interests arrive and definitely Peña Nieto is serving his own cadre of compromises, one of them being the NAICM. But also the already shelved project of building a major airport just north of Santa Lucía at the town of Tizayuca is being revived by AMLO as feasible. That was a great project but for reasons this writer still does not understand it’s been scrapped for good.
In any case, the idea of cancelling the investment already made at NAICM is striking terror in all the companies that won the bids to build parts of the complex just east of CDMX.
The construction that’s almost finished at the over 2,000 hectares NAICM is a 33 kilometer wall surrounding it, most of the water supply and sewage treatment and disposal system as well as 48 kilometers of the inner road network.
Most of the digging work to lay down the foundation of the main terminal is almost over and nowadays workers are beginning to remove the 150 million square feet of rubbish in order to start building the facility, which will boast six long landing and takeoff strips and is nowadays, or so we hear, the largest airport under construction in the world.
AMLO is pretty much aware of the construction advances at NAICM and construction director general Federico Patiño is seeing that work gets done fast in order to deliver on schedule by 2019, a miracle in Mexico where all constructions are delivered late.
There are at least 15 major construction companies involved in the NAICM project and it is expected that by the end of 2017 at least 85 percent of all the different and specialty parts of the contracts will have been awarded to bidding winners with full construction of all of it terminated by the end of 2018, which is precisely the time when the new president will arrive in power.
For AMLO or whoever becomes the nation’s next president to cancel out the project when it is almost finished would mean a great loss both of money and effort.
Yet given AMLO’s stiff opposition to the venture it’d not be unlikely that if elected, he would tear down the whole construction because it would not only mean the loss of what’s done, but it’d send the wrong message to worldwide investors that putting their money in Mexico is not a serious business.
In fact, just this week Fitch Ratings came up with the not so recent news that if AMLO won the 2018 presidential election, there would be uncertainty and volatility hitting hard the Mexican economy.
The question is, would AMLO strike down the NAICM project just because it is a campaign promise? The answer is no and these are times when this would-be president, as there will be others when campaigns start next years, has to make fake promises, Trump style, in order to garner attention.
The truth is that NAICM is a done deal and scrapping it, particularly next year, is just another political scam both to strike terror in the hearts of those working and investing on it, and to look appealing to voters of the growing and disaffected Mexican left wing.