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The federal government of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), through Mexico’s Attorney General of the Republic (FGR), is seeking to appropriate several private properties from the major business district of Santa Fe, located in the Cuajimalpa de Morelos and Álvaro Obregón boroughs of Mexico City — but without paying compensation to the owners.

The López Obrador administration is looking to leverage civil lawsuits from the Institute of Administration and Appraisals of National Assets (Indabin) and investigation folders from the FGR to proceed with the appropriation.

Santa Fe is populated by upscale shopping malls, commercial establishments, corporate buildings and luxury condominiums. The area that the federal government is looking to appropriate is adjacent to where the FGR is constructing its new headquarters.

Although some of the real estate companies have already sold their apartment units years ago and are no longer connected to majority of the buildings, their legal representatives — aside from the owners themselves — have received summonses from the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime (FEMDO).

In all cases, the FEMDO order has been the same: The owners must immediately “return” the properties to the federal government because of a decree signed on Oct. 30, 1907, by Olegario Molina Solís — then Secretary of Development, Colonization and Industry of former Mexican President Porfirio Díaz, who served from 1884 to 1911.

The decree was signed prior to the Constitution of 1917, the year in which former Mexican President Venustiano Carranza recognized private property rights of occupants. AMLO’s administration is essentially invoking a decree that was in effect during a period known throughout Mexico as the Porfiriato, which was the ironfisted rule of Díaz, lasting seven terms.

Several property owners have expressed concern about what they consider an attack on private property.

Summonses from the FGR were sent to property owners of High Park Reforma, a 28-story tower in front of the Santa Fe Ford dealership, as well as properties along Prolongación Paseo de la Reforma 271, Colonia Lomas de Santa Fe. Some of the properties in the area have been surrounded by yellow security tape, allegedly placed there by the FGR, “as a first warning from the Prosecutor’s Office.”

One of the summonses likewise reached Jagui Inmuebles, a company based in Santa Fe that was required to surrender its 3,588-square-meter property. The FGR also sent summonses to the 20-story Cosmocrat Building, and F4 Real Estate.

On Aug. 4 of this year, property owner Fausto Demetrio Trejo Guerrero, who received a summons, went to the FEMDO office and was given a period of five days to “turn over” his property, but refused. According to Trejo Guerrero, prosecutor Rodolfo Guillermo Pérez Torres from the FEMDO office invoked the 1907 decree.

“It’s not about disobeying a government order. I told them with confidence that we can negotiate. I’ll sell to them or rent out to them if they want, there’s no problem,” Trejo Guerrero told Mexican daily newspaper Reforma in an interview. “But they can’t just take my property away from me.”

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