(Bloomberg) — After failing to find a buyer for his presidential jet, Mexico’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has roped in the nation’s super rich to support his “plane raffle”.
The Mexican leader threw a gala dinner at the national palace in Mexico City Wednesday attended by business leaders including billionaires Carlos Slim and Maria Asuncion Aramburuzabala, according to photos released by his office.
Lopez Obrador said Thursday that he sold 1.5 billion pesos ($80 million) in raffle tickets to 75 business people.
The Mexican leader last week ditched his plan to offer the $130 million presidential jet as a prize in a raffle, but proceeded with the competition in any case with cash prizes. The game is intended to raise money for medical equipment, he says.
“Yesterday, in the gathering we had with business leaders of Mexico, everyone expressed their support,” Lopez Obrador said at his press conference Thursday morning. “Some will distribute the tickets to other companies. They’ll be in charge of distribution. Others will sell them, and others will hand them out to their employees.”
Not all of the nation’s top businessmen were in attendance. On his twitter account, Alvaro Fernandez, CEO of conglomerate Alfa SAB, signaled his criticism of those who joined the president. “I guess each of us have decided where to have dinner today.”
Some pundits saw the fundraiser as twisting the arm of the business community, which may feel forced to comply after he put them on edge with cancellations and changes to major investment projects. Lopez Obrador scrapped a $13 billion airport project already underway soon after being elected in 2018.
“It must generate lots of confidence to be extorted by the National Palace,” said Valeria Moy, director of the think tank “Mexico, Como Vamos,” and an economist at the nation’s Autonomous Institute of Technology, in a post on Twitter.