Mexico's President Will Raffle Off His Presidential Plane

Jan 29, 2020
Originally published on January 29, 2020 2:59 pm
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Mexico's president has announced plans to hold a national raffle. The prize - his presidential plane. He campaigned on getting rid of the aircraft, and he calls it an obscene luxury in a country as poor as Mexico. While many praise his austere style, the idea of a national raffle has made him the butt of jokes. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has never stepped foot on the plane. He flies commercial. Throughout his first year as president, he parked the Boeing 787 in California, hoping to find a buyer there - no such luck. And after a year of mounting maintenance costs - more than a million dollars - he's brought it back home.

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PRESIDENT ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: At his daily morning press conference, Lopez Obrador unveiled a prototype ticket for his raffle. Each will go for 500 pesos - about $27. He's hoping to sell six million and take in $150 million. The winner gets at least a year of maintenance for the plane.

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LOPEZ OBRADOR: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: Lopez Obrador had hoped to barter the luxury craft in the U.S. for medical equipment for the poor. He points out that the raffle proceeds will go toward that goal. It's written right on the ticket, which also shows the raffle date as May 5 - Cinco de Mayo.

RAMSI JIMENEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "It feels like he's pulling our legs. He must be joking," he says 34-year-old Ramsi Jimenez. Critics of the president worry he's created this spectacle to distract from Mexico's record homicide rate and violence. Others, though, are just having fun.

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UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing in Spanish).

KAHN: Musical spoofs, corridos and cumbias flood social media, as well as memes pondering what the common folk would do with the plane. There are images of the aircraft converted into a huge taco truck, as living quarters for hundreds or as the singer bellows in this cumbia...

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UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing in Spanish).

KAHN: "Where would you park it?" "Or," he goes on, "I could just lend it back to the president."

Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.