Will Mexico City’s New Airport Get Off the Ground?
Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Oct. 8 that his incoming government would not provide the $4.66 billion needed to complete the construction of the new international airport for Mexico City, suggesting a group of business leaders led by multi-billionaire Carlos Slim could finance it instead. A binding national vote, in which Mexicans will decide either to continue to build the airport or keep the current airport and combine its operations with a military air base nearby, is scheduled for the last week of October. How likely is it that voters will approve the project? Will Slim and other Mexican business finance the new airport’s construction? What other obstacles stand in the way of the project’s completion?
Diane E. Davis, chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design and coordinator of the Mexican Cities Initiative at Harvard University Graduate School of Design: “López Obrador’s statements about the airport are quite consistent with his longstanding views. When he was Mexico City’s mayor, he opposed the Fox administration’s plans to build an airport in San Salvador Atenco. He criticized the top-down, authoritative manner of project decision-making and the sense that the PRI and the real estate developers and construction firms would be the real winners. AMLO also saw the project as challenging Mexico City’s centrality and as having negative outcomes for farmers and other local residents. The current pronouncement also aligns with AMLO’s priorities for development, which include a commitment to decentralization and a focus on infrastructure needs and opportunities in historically bypassed regions. Moreover, there are limited funds to develop infrastructure in both the country’s center and its regions. The call for Carlos Slim and others to foot the bill has raised eyebrows, given that when AMLO was mayor he collaborated with Slim in ways that benefited them both. This is probably why AMLO…”Read More
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