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The Dog Fight over Santa Lucía Airport


Photo: Istock

By RICARDO CASTILLO    

One day yes and the next day no. Again we’re getting bombarded with news of judges ordering the cancellation of the still-to-be-built Santa Lucía Airport located just northwest of the Teotihuacán pyramida, to the north of Mexico City. As of last week, 80 suits had been filed on environmental grounds stating that the damage the airport would cause, and just last Sunday, Aug. 25, over 25 municipalities around the airport announced new suits.

This being Mexico, it surely sounds like politics and you know what. Somebody has declared war against Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) pet project. But who’s paying for the barrage of suits and all the expensive lawyers?

Last Friday, Aug. 23, during his early morning press conference, the president said he knew who was behind the “legal sabotage” curtaining the revamping of the old military base – which before never was a nuance to neighbors – into the new international airport.

And the name is … Claudio X. González Guajardo, son of AMLO’s most furious and vehement political enemy – and his son’s namesake – who has been fighting AMLO since 2006 through defamation campaigns through the media, including radio ads with a steely voice claiming “López Obrador is a threat to Mexico.”

Over the past few days, since  AMLO disclosed his discrediting movement, González Guajardo has stayed mum and invisible. Of course, the press wants him to confirm or deny the president’s charge through his hashtag movement #nomasderroches meaning #nomorewaste.

Perhaps González Guajardo is doing well in not showing his face and is practicing the old Mexican adage “throw a stone and hide your hand” because this time he managed to incense AMLO.

On Saturday, Aug. 24, AMLO said: “What they want is to stop us, to make us look bad, for the work not be carried out. It is an act of legal sabotage. In the case of Santa Lucía, and I said it yesterday, it is the son of Claudio X. González. He’s always had differences with us because his father was an advisor to (former Mexican President Carlos) Salinas, and he has been the leader of a group” that’s kept the war against AMLO going on for over 30 years now.

AMLO has always held that Claudio X. González, as well as a group of Mexican financers who had vested interests is the now-dead project of the New Mexico International Airport (NAIM) are “extremely sore because they lost a little business and lost some billions and now they are using all their resources in a very immoral manner.” (AMLO, in his often old-fashioned slang, used the word “billullos” – pronounce biyuyos – for billions.)

He accused the entrepreneurs of using “a wave of resources to stop Mexico’s transformation (AMLO calls his mandate the Fourth Transformation) because they are filing suit for environmental issues, but the airport is going to be built in the 50-year old Santa Lucía Air Force Base area, which makes sense. There is no reason (for their suits) other than stop the advance of our transforming movement.”

AMLO said his administration and army of legal advisors are “looking into the matter from a legal standpoint, and we have other recourse, which is to place first the interest of the nation. At the right moment, we’re going to access the right the state has to preserve the national interest.”

To put that in action terms, the president has the absolute right to override all suits that may go against a “national interest project,” and sign a decree or executive order to proceed without interference. That would be an extreme act, but we’ll see how it goes, particularly come next Sunday, Sept 1, when AMLO will deliver his first State of the Nation Address at the National Palace, a speech in which usually important announcements are made.

“A group of entrepreneurs with vested interests cannot stop the course of the nation,” AMLO said.

Over the years, the Claudio X. González father and son team have vehemently opposed AMLO, and in the 2018 presidential election they started their slander campaign in January, with a rash of phone calls in which a mysterious and unidentified man’s voice told listeners “don’t permit AMLO to bring the Russian enemy to profane with their feet our soil; don’t let him deliver our oil over to the Russians.” AMLO recalled that call quite well because he never said anything about giving Mexico’s oil to Russia. The point being, the politically senseless message was very real.

“These are people pressuring President (Enrique) Peña Nieto to steal the election from us,” AMLO said then. “That’s the information I’ve got, but it has to do with who was behind the 2006 electoral fraud” that gave Felipe Calderón, and not AMLO, the presidency back then.

And back then, Dec. 30, 2018, while campaigning in Mazatlán, AMLO stated that the man behind the Russian threat tirade was none other than “Claudio X. González Laporte,” the father, of course.

By the way, González Laporte is a most prominent business leader, chairman of the board of the Kleenex tissue paper manufacturing company that is a subsidiary of Kimberly Clark, and founder of the Mexican Council of Businessmen.

During the 2018 presidential campaign, González Laporte was fully behind the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, who lost to AMLO by a large margin.

Now, the new battleground is not an electoral one, but definitely one that is bothering AMLO just the way a “cuchillo de palo,” or as wooden knife stabbing, does, meaning it does not kill, but it is a constant nuisance.

The problem for the Claudios nowadays is that AMLO is the president, and if harassment continues, he will wield his might and carry out his mandate, which is “to build the airport at Santa Lucía.”

It is indeed a dog fight between AMLO and this family twosome.

 

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