By MARK LORENZANA
Javier May, director of Mexico’s National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (Fonatur), promised residents from the town of Pomuch in the southeast Mexican state of Campeche that the profits from the Tren Maya — one of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) controversial pet megaprojects — will be used to increase pension payments to senior citizens.
In a video of a meeting with residents in Pomuch on Thursday, June 28, May said that the financing of the pensions will come from earnings from the Tren Maya, although he did not explain how they would be obtained. In addition, the Tren Maya project is still a long way off from being completed.
“How much is the pension right now? Around 3,800 bimonthly? The pension is going to go up to 4,650 next year,” May said. “In 2024, the pension is going to be 6,000 pesos every two months. Each year, the pension is going to increase. Where is that resource going to come from? From the Tren Maya project.”
May, who has also promoted the construction of the Tren Maya as part of his campaign bid for governor of Tabasco under the banner of AMLO’s leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena), held various meetings in June of this year with residents of the communities through which the Tren Maya will pass.
The offer to shoulder the increase in pensions of citizens in Campeche with earnings from the Tren Maya contradicts the plan announced by López Obrador that the proceeds from the train will cover military pensions.
The Tren Maya was declared by López Obrador as a work of national security, and AMLO awarded contracts of its construction to the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena).
May has been joined at briefings by lawmakers and state officials. In some cases, houses have even been formally handed over to families who have been relocated, due to the ongoing construction.
The meeting was recorded on video, where May was heard saying that in the government of former President Enrique Peña Nieto, the pension for older adults was only 1,065 pesos because the administration of Peña Nieto stole the money.
“Before, that money did not reach the people. How much did the government receive when Peña Nieto was in power? How much did the people receive? Around 1,065 pesos,” May said. “Now how much do they receive? Around 3,800 pesos, and it will increase year after year. Before, the government stole the money. We have to say it: The government stole money and looted the country.”