Mexican president auctions off government vehicle fleet

For many Mexicans, wealth and extravagance defined the presidential lifestyle. But the country’s new leader is putting that lifestyle up for sale.

Black SUVs, escort motorcycles, helicopters and airplanes; all up for sale at a public auction.

The country’s new president says neither he nor his administration, needs them. He hopes to raise over five million dollars from their sale.

“I came to the auction to see if I could get a car for a good price,” one auction-goer said. “They aren’t luxury vehicles, but they were bought by the public using our taxes, so it’s a benefit for the public that we can buy them back, and save money.”

 More than 500 people are bidding on the government’s fleet at a military base outside Mexico City. Mexico’s new president organized the event as part of his push for austere fiscal policies.

“We are going to save money through tackling corruption, and save money through putting an end to the luxuries and over-spending of the government,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said. “It’s money that will allow us to finance our own development.”

AMLO, who took office last December, is leading by example. He continues to fly on commercial airlines, has turned the presidential residence into a museum, and accepts only 40 percent of the salary of his predecessor.

These measures are popular, but Esteban Illades – who edits the political Nexos Magazine – is waiting to see concrete results.

“Mexicans are very happy with the actions he’s undertaking there, and by doing that and by changing that, he’s saying things are changing,” he explained. “He hasn’t yet completed 100 days in office, but we’ve yet to see something that’s remarkably different in terms of public policy, that is in terms of actual actions that he’s undertaking as a president, instead of just symbols that he’s performing.”

A second auction is planned for April, which will include the presidential jet.