Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Mexico holds symbolic raffle for unwanted presidential jet


Mexico held a symbolic raffle Tuesday for a luxury presidential jet that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador calls an “insult” to the people and which has yet to find a buyer.

Instead of taking home the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, holders of the 100 winning tickets were rewarded with a share of prize money totalling two billion pesos ($95 million).

Lopez Obrador, a leftist austerity crusader, has been vowing to sell the aircraft since his 2018 election campaign, saying “not even Donald Trump has a plane like that.”

The jet was purchased for about $218 million during former president Felipe Calderon’s 2006-2012 term in office, and is now worth an estimated $130 million.

The only one who used it was his successor Enrique Pena Nieto.

It has proven hard to find a buyer for a massive jet customized with an executive bedroom, private bath and seating for 80 people.

In February Lopez Obrador proposed a raffle and awarding the plane to one lucky winner.

But the plan failed to get off the ground due to a law that prohibits raffling or donating the nation’s assets.

Instead the plane became an emblem adorning the six million tickets in a lottery aimed at raising funds roughly equivalent to the plane’s value.

Under the government’s plan, two-thirds of the proceeds will pay for the prizes and the rest will go to public hospitals serving “poor people.”

It was not immediately clear how much money had been raised.

In Mexico, lottery winners usually remain anonymous, but it was reported after the draw that three hospitals were winners with tickets given to them by the government.

Critics say Lopez Obrador has used the lottery for his own political gain.

“What matters to him is to say ‘look at the luxuries and privileges of the past and instead I’m austere’,” analyst and historian Jose Antonio Crespo told AFP.

The Dreamliner was brought back to Mexico from the United States in July after failing to find a buyer there, although the government says there are two offers on the table.

sem-dr/jm



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