MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The Mexican government said on Thursday it has sold Mexico’s presidential plane to Tajikistan, seemingly ending the final chapter in a political saga that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has repeatedly used to attack the excesses of his predecessors.
López Obrador announced in a Twitter post that the agreed-upon sale price for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner used by his predecessor Enrique Peña Nieto — but not by him — was about 1.66 billion pesos, or about $92 million.
In a video accompanying the post, the president said the sale showed how Mexican politics had changed under his leadership.
“It is important for everyone to know how people thought before, and how the authorities acted, like the little pharaohs,” he said, sitting on a leather high chair surrounded by officials.
More details about the sale of the aircraft to the Central Asian country will be revealed next week, including what he described as the aircraft’s exorbitant maintenance costs.
One of the officials with the president, Jorge Mendoza, head of Banobras National Development Bank, said the Tajik State Council that bought the plane had about 10 days to seize it.
The left-wing populist who for decades railed against the corruption of political elites had previously said he hoped to sell the plane for at least $150 million, down from the original purchase price of $218 million in 2012.
Shortly after López Obrador took office in late 2018, he announced plans to sell the plane, which featured marble accents and official government seals emblazoned on the walls along with several flat screens.
But years went by without a sale, and at one point the frugal Mexican leader, who has championed budget austerity during more than four years in office, suggested towing the plane.
Lopez Obrador, who flies commercially when he travels, said proceeds from the sale will be used to build two 80-bed public hospitals in the southern states of Guerrero and Oaxaca, among the poorest regions of the country.
“It will be built by military engineers and will be inaugurated before my term ends,” he added.
($1 = 17.9941 Mexican pesos)
(Reporting by Isabel Woodford and David Aller Garcia) Editing by Stephen Coates
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