Mexico’s leftist President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) called for a binding referendum to be held this Thursday to decide the fate of a US$13-billion airport in Mexico City.
Specifically, the referendum will include questions regarding, whether to continue with the new airport or to update an existing airport located in Toluca, the capital of the State of Mexico. As part of the second option, a military base would be converted into new runways for commercial use.
Those in favor of the new airport argued that the existing one, Benito Juarez International Airport, does not have the capacity to handle the increase in demand. Additionally, it is argued that creating extra runways at the existing airport will generate new logistical issues.
On the other hand, those who oppose the project argue that it would create environmental issues, namely, jeopardizing the ongoing restoration of lakes that cover the valley where the airport is located. But, the airport is viewed as a source of corruption.
“We will present a legal challenge to stop contracts being awarded because they are awarding contracts to tie down the next government,” according to President-elect Lopez Obrador. “Whatever comes out is going to be respected because in democracy, the people rule.”
This referendum comes at a time when AMLO’s leadership is being characterized as ‘conciliatory’ and ‘moderate’, which has been both welcomed and criticized by different parts of Mexico's left.
The referendum for the project surfaces at a key moment in Mexico’s history, marked by the transition between the Enrique Peña Nieto Government to AMLO’s, is addressing their investment security and contracts held with the government.