/ Modified oct 29, 2018 4:05 p.m.

Mexico City's New Airport Canceled After Controversial Referendum

Nearly 70 percent voted against, though it was discovered that it was possible to vote several times.

Mexico City airport construction Screenshot of a promotional video showing construction on the new international airport in Mexico City, from the airport website.

MEXICO CITY — Last week, Mexico considered a referendum to decide whether construction on a new international airport in Mexico City would continue.

The referendum was called for by Mexico’s president-elect, but only about 1 million people (about 1.2 percent of registered voters) participated.

Mexico City airport vote VIEW LARGER A voting tent for the airport referendum in Mexico City.
Rodrigo Cervantes, Fronteras Desk

According to the official results, the majority — nearly 70 percent of the voters — opted for the president-elect’s alternative of improving three airports, one of which is a repurposed Air Force base.

But the voting process was tainted by controversy after citizens and several media, including Fronteras Desk, discovered that it was possible to vote several times.

Organizers of the referendum, including the independent consulting firm hired for the referendum and president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador himself, argued that the margin of error is minimum.

“The new project was conceived to help the rich get richer, ignoring the poor and environmental problems,” said Seferino Aguirre, a supporter of López Obrador who voted against the new airport.

López Obrador stated that he will follow the “rational, efficient and democratic choice of the people," while promising to respect investors and companies involved in the construction of the new airport.

But those in favor of the new airport are concerned about the negative impact of the referendum in Mexico’s economy in the short and long term, as well as on the implications it will have to improve three old airports instead of building a newer and bigger terminal.

Business leaders in Mexico have stated that the decision is a mistake, while the companies in charge of building the new airport confirmed they will continue building the new airport until the end of president Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration in December.

As soon as the result was announced, the Mexican peso weakened.

Fronteras Desk
This story is from the Fronteras Desk, a collaboration of Southwestern public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Fronteras Desk.
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