Mexican referendum votes to cancel $13bn international airport

Mexicans have voted in a non-binding referendum to cancel Mexico City’s partially built international airport. The vote was 70% in favour of cancelling the project, but only a million votes were cast by the country’s 130 million people.

The referendum was called by president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador in August, following his victory in the July elections.

The question on the ballot was whether construction should continue on New Mexico International Airport (NAIM), which would take over from Benito Juárez airport as the country’s main aviation hub, or whether Juárez should stay in service and additional runways be added to the Santa Lucía military base, 50km from Mexico City.

The referendum was organised by non-profit Arturo Rosenblueth Foundation, but did not gain authorisation from Mexico’s electoral authority INE.

Reuters reported former labour minister Javier Lozano’s view that the vote was rigged in favour of rejecting NAIM by the incoming government.

Al Jazeera carried claims that some people had voted multiple times, and that there were problems with the software used to record the identification cards of voters.

Despite this, Obrador says he will respect the vote, and construction will be halted on the project.

Located in the drained Lake Texcoco, NAIM was being spearheaded by firms owned by Carlos Slim, once the world’s richest man, who were co-designing, co-building and co-funding the airport.

Image: Foster + Partners’ design for the airport

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