You know what makes a good president to me?
Someone who is a man of the people!
I don’t give a fuck about domestic terrorists like Shining Path.
Nor do I care about cartel groups killing each other and driving up murder rates.
Corrupt cops demanding bribes and making people disappear?
Old news to me!
What about touristy areas facing crazy events like this here?
Not at all concerning!
Nor is there any reason to consider the impact of corrupt politicians stealing from the people.
These things don’t concern me!
The thing that matters, above all, is knowing the president is a man of the people!
Someone who doesn’t use no fancy planes.
Economy class for me? Economy class for him!
Even if it means he is more exposed to getting assassinated by some crazy fucker, hyper partisan voter who hates him or a member of a powerful domestic organization (narco, terrorist, etc).
This is why – in my opinion – the leaders of Castillo of Peru and AMLO of Mexico are the best that Latin America have had in a decade!
They get it.
What do I mean?
The Mexican Rejection of Presidential Planes
In all seriousness, it seems to be a feature among a few leftist presidents of Latin America these days.
The feature being this rejection of having a presidential plane.
I chalk it up to populists simply trying to look like “one of the people” and not above them.
The best example in my mind is what Mexican President AMLO did.
Where, as you can read here, AMLO refused to even ride on the presidential plane after being elected to office some years ago.
In which after being elected, he refused to ride the presidential plane to Puerto Vallarta in Mexico and instead chose a commercial flight for an important meeting related to the Pacific Alliance.
The same thing happened a few years ago when AMLO went to meet Trump in the US but chose to fly commercial instead of his own presidential plane as you can read here.
And why won’t he fly on his own plane?
Well, this article here gives us some understandings why.
It basically comes down to politics at the end of the day.
Among AMLO’s political base includes a lot of “lower income communities” that AMLO appeals to.
In order to be more relatable to them, he simply refuses to use the private plane because of how luxurious it is when so many Mexicans live in poverty.
We also have his own words right here in this article.
“In video footage posted online from onboard the delayed flight from Huatulco to Mexico City, Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he would “die of shame” if he used “a luxurious plane in a country where there is so much poverty.”
Of course, one could ask if this is just simple political pandering and how many of his voters would’ve really given a shit if he chose to fly on a plane that was already paid for.
A plane that, to be fair, did cost a decent sum of money to buy at 218.7 million dollars back in 2012 before he was even president.
Since he has chosen to never use that plane though, AMLO has tried selling it without any success.
He sent the plane to be auctioned off in the US but nobody bought it while the total cost of maintaining it in the US costed the Mexican government (taxpayers) a total of 1.5 million USD in maintenance costs as you can read here.
He also once tried selling it to the Mexican airline company, Aeromexico, but that so far hasn’t worked as you can read here.
Though, to his credit, he did have a businessman known as Jimenez Pons offer to buy the plane for a total of 99 million USD but, for whatever reason, that deal didn’t go through as you can read here.
You could think that he would’ve accepted the deal given that nobody else has been buying and the Mexican government estimated the plane to be worth 130 million as you can read here.
Sure, it’s a total of 30 million less but every year adds another million or so to maintenance costs it seems.
And, as you can read here, the guy even tried running a raffle on the airplane!
Though not exactly…
In which, from my understanding of the article, he would sell raffle tickets that cost 25 dollars a ticket with the hope of selling a total of 6 million tickets for a total of 150 million dollars raised.
While people thought that he’d be giving away the presidential plane, he actually took a few steps back and apparently said that a total of 100 million dollars would be divided among 100 winners instead.
Which, before we go any further, is a little bit confusing, no?
After all, if so many Mexicans are in poverty and that’s why AMLO won’t ride the jet, then does he really think he will sell 6 million tickets at a total of 500 pesos (25 USD) a ticket?
When so many Mexicans earn like 4000 to 7000 pesos a month anyhow with living expenses being fairly high for those wages.
On top of that, this isn’t really giving up the plane then, huh?
The cost of maintaining it is still be covered by the Mexican government.
Finally, it’s a bit of a letdown, no?
I think we were all hoping for some alcoholic homeless dude always drinking Tonayan who is living in Tepito to be the lottery winner and winning an entire plane to himself.
Imagine the guy riding around the world on it….
I guess AMLO isn’t really a man of the people is he if he isn’t really to give a man like that the chance to own a plane?
Overall, it seemed like AMLO wanted to sell it to ultimately use the money to help poor people and look like a “man of the people” but it ultimately never worked out as this article here summarized nicely.
“Gone are the hopes it would raise a lot of money for anti-poverty programs. Mexico is now just hoping to cut its losses on the plane, which is too expensive to reconfigure back into a commercial airliner that normally carries as many as 300 passengers.”
At any rate, enjoy this video of AMLO on a commercial plane.
Though, as I implied before, it’s not just AMLO that seems to reject presidential planes these days in Latin America.
We have someone else who shares a similar sentiment.
No Presidential Planes for the Peruvian Cowboy
The reason why I’m writing this article is because I was reminded of it today with this article on the Peruvian president, Castillo, having the same sentiment on presidential planes as you can read in this article here that I read today.
Let’s summarize a few key points of the article.
First, Castillo made it clear that “no public servant will travel first class by air” as he wants to get rid of the privileges that folks in government have.
Or at least that’s my translation anyhow.
Here’s his exact words in Spanish according to the article cited: “El presidente peruano anunció, además, que ordenará "que ningún funcionario viaje vía aérea en primera clase" para acabar con los "privilegios de muchos funcionarios públicos"
What else did Castillo say?
Here are more of his words here before I do my rough translation.
“Anuncio que venderemos el avión presidencial, recursos que serán utilizados en la salud y educación de los niños y niñas", dijo el gobernante izquierdista en Ayacucho, sureste de Perú, al entregar un informe público sobre sus primeros 100 días de gobierno.
"En un gobierno del pueblo, los funcionarios viajarán como un ciudadano de a pie", expresó el maestro rural devenido en presidente.”
With him roughly saying that he will sell the plane and use the financial resources to benefit the health and education of children and how his government is of the people with public servants to be traveling like everyone else.
The article also goes on to saying that previous Peruvian presidents, like Alan Garcia, who tried to sell it off in an auction twice in 2007 for 18.5 million dollars but nobody bought it.
The same plane was bought for by the Peruvian government under previous Peruvian president, Alberto Fujimori, for 27.6 million dollars in 1995.
Now, to be honest, it’s a little bit confusing how a “presidential plane” could’ve costed so little in Peru versus what Mexico had to pay.
Granted, money in 1995 is different in value from money in 2012 but, according to that article, the Peruvian government only wanted 18.5 million in 2007.
Sure seems like the Peruvians got a good deal somehow.
Though, in either the case of Mexico or Peru, there’s clearly a deficit in how much they paid versus how much they are selling it for.
At any rate, what are some thoughts going forward to wrap this up?
First, I’m a little bit doubtful that Castillo will sell it.
If it didn’t work in 2007, why will it work when the economy is still recovering from the shit storm of what happened economically under Covid recently?
Granted, I imagine they might have an easier time selling it than Mexico given the much lower price tag.
Though, when it comes to selling something, marketing is key.
Both Mexico and Peru are associated with their former indigenous empires by outsiders.
Mexico with the Aztecs and Peru with the Incas.
Why not have Mexico and Peru work together to sell the planes as a “buy 1, get 1 free “package?
They can market it the “Pre-Columbian planes” or the “Aztec & Peruvian Planes.”
Maybe market it as “the Eagle & the Alpaca!”
“The Taco & Ceviche?”
Nah, the last marketing name would confuse people at the auction into making them think that they’re at a restaurant.
But something catchy and relevant to both countries as a marketing tool.
Sell both for maybe a total of 99 million?
Mexico gets 80 and Peru gets 19?
Just an idea…
Second, I do think it’s just a pandering tool really by leftist presidents to appeal to their voters.
If they really wanted to do something for their people, why not stop some of the corruption that limits government funds that are meant to help the people?
For example, you have plenty of other issues in a country like Mexico that reduces funds to help poor people as you can read here.
“Mexico Hemorrhages US$872 Billion to Crime, Corruption, Tax Evasion from 1970-2010.”
At least Peru has been putting in some effort recently on that as you can read here.
“Peru has recently improved its efforts to fight domestic corruption. It must now sustain these efforts, extend them to fighting foreign bribery, and raise awareness of this crime, according to a new report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery.
The report also highlights positive aspects of Peru’s efforts to fight foreign bribery. The Lava Jato Special Team has begun prosecuting many Peruvian politicians and officials at the highest levels. Successful conclusion of these cases will require Peru to maintain its resources and support to the Special Team. Also encouraging are recent reforms of the system for the appointment, discipline and dismissal of judges and prosecutors, though the impact of these efforts will be felt only in years to come. Peru has committed to improving its statistical collection in mutual legal assistance and money laundering enforcement. Its lawmakers also expressed their commitment to advance reforms that would address the Working Group’s concerns.”
Third, one could fairly point out that both Mexico and Peru could do both things – sell the planes and handle issues like corruption that limit government resources.
Though I would argue that, at least in Mexico’s case, they haven’t been very serious about the latter and are using the former to simply pander to voters like I said before.
“Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, on Friday said he personally ordered the release of one of the sons of notorious drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, after his brief detention during a military operation.”
Regardless, the argument is technically sound that both could be done to direct more resources to anti-poverty programs or whatever other important cause.
However, without even considering how the Mexican government has failed despite spending a few million to sell the plane so far…
And we’ll see how Peru does anyhow also in the coming year or two…
I would also argue that a “presidential plane” isn’t a bad idea.
Fourth, it’s the obvious argument, no?
Look, I’m not saying that either Castillo is at risk of being killed by The Shining Path or AMLO is at risk of being killed by the cartels…
Though, as you can see in this video here, the cartels have been more aggressive in the last few years like when they attacked the police chief of CDMX.
Still, it could be anyone else who can do something nasty.
Not just some powerful criminal organization.
Be it a crazy fucker who attacks the president for no understandable reason that might be suffering from mental illness or someone who does it for political reasons because they hate the guy in office.
And, at least in Mexico’s case, the lack of concern for security is a little more noticeable as you can read here.
“If you subscribe to the notion that presidents are targets, then the answer is no — traveling through multiple public airports and being trapped on planes with strangers increases López Obrador’s exposure to potential threats. But he might disagree.
The President has eschewed armed guards since taking office, disbanding the previous presidential security detail. He instead travels around with a handful of aides and escorts who routinely allow the public direct access to the President.”
No idea if Castillo holds the same views on armed guards but we’ll see!
At any rate, if I was Mexican or Peruvian, I would want my president (no matter how strongly I disagreed with him) to have his private security and his own plane to fly everywhere.
Especially also because it doesn’t even have to be some crazy dude who could kill him.
What if the plane simply crashes?
Though that’s statistically unlikely to happen or kill you, I’d imagine that a Presidential plane would have better security in place to check it’s operational capacity before flying each time.
Versus trusting some cheap airline company that is cutting corners to make an extra buck that might be having the president on board.
Fifth, I don’t mind if the President flies in a more luxurious way than the people!
He’s the president after all.
No, the President isn’t king and shouldn’t be seen as such.
But he is the leader of the country.
A nicer plane isn’t going to hurt anybody.
And, as we have seen in the case of AMLO here, a presidential plane is more professional than a commercial plane for when traveling domestically or internationally to represent your country.
“Mexico’s leftist president-elect has pledged to stick to his plan to get rid of the country’s presidential plane – despite finding himself stuck on the tarmac for three hours waiting for a commercial flight to take off.
López Obrador was using the low-cost airline VivaAerobús. He and other passengers spent three hours on the plane and were then moved back to the terminal to wait for a further hour before they could fly.”
Why he had to use a low-cost airline too?
Is he really that concerned about appearing “like the people” that something slightly nicer like Delta would be a bad look?
When the poorest of the poor in Mexico that he claims to represent couldn’t even afford that airline ticket alone to begin with anyhow.
So why not just drop the act and at least get a nicer airline to fly you somewhere?
Or, better yet, just use the presidential plane that is already paid for so you aren’t late to important meetings when representing your country (either domestically or internationally)?
Which that brings me to another point..
Sixth, the plane is already purchased.
Seriously – why not use it when it’s already been bought?
Seventh, do that many poor people in Mexico or Peru really give a fuck about this?
Would some poor family in Pedregal de Santo Domingo who lives on 400 bucks a month for the whole family eating eggs and rice every meal really give a fuck if he rode the nicer plane?
In all my years here meeting numerous people of lower and higher income backgrounds, I have yet met a single Mexican that gave a fuck about this truly.
I wonder if the same would hold true for poor people in Peru?
Anyway, that’s all I got to say.
It’s an interesting topic anyhow.
Makes me wonder if we’ll see any more backlash against “presidential planes” in Latin America in the future.
Seems to be more of a thing for left wing presidents to hate on than right wing ones.
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