Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador loves big projects and hates to leave them unfinished, but that is likely what he will do when he leaves office late in 2024.
The president pledges his big construction projects will be done by then. But one — a tourist train line in the Yucatan peninsula — will have to be jacked up on stilts for 50 miles to run over some of the most fragile and environmentally sensitive geographies in the world.
Meanwhile, an oil refinery — and a string of planned industrial parks — don’t have a natural gas supply. And a government internet-for-all scheme has spent hundreds of millions of dollars without even matching private service coverage.
López Obrador has completed one of his top projects, building a new Mexico City airport. But because it was rushed into operation more than a year before rail and road links will be finished, it is little used. He canceled another airport project his predecessor wasn’t able to finish, thus his rush.
López Obrador admits the government is unwieldy — he often calls it a “rheumatic elephant” that must be pushed. He also blames delays on what he calls a broad conspiracy of conservatives, businessmen, and U.S.-funded non-governmental organizations.
“Pseudo-environmentalists come from Mexico City and other parts of the country, financed by the government of the United States, and they file these injunctions against us,” the president complained.
Few disagree with his desire to bring jobs, development, banking services, internet, and decent health care to Mexico’s poor and remote countryside. But his big plans have been stymied, in large part by his own belief in a few central rules.