Mexican president declares few assets, shows bare wallet

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

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MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AFP) — Mexico's austerity crusader, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday his official declaration contained virtually no assets, showing his nearly empty wallet to reporters as evidence.

Lopez Obrador, an anti-establishment leftist who took office last month, has delighted supporters — but also fuelled criticism — with his aggressive austerity measures.

They include slashing his own salary, disbanding the presidential security detail, and flying commercial airlines for official trips.

“Money has never interested me. I fight for ideals, for principles. Although I would also clarify, to avoid offending anyone, that not all rich people are evil,” he said at his daily press conference.

Lopez Obrador, 65, said his asset declaration included two bank accounts with about US$23,000 in them, no credit card, no checking account, and no vehicles.

He said his only real estate was his modest ranch in southern Mexico, which is not even his, since he has signed the deed over to his sons.

His wife, journalist and writer Beatriz Gutierrez, meanwhile declared three bank accounts with a total of around US$72,000, three vehicles, an apartment, a house, and two tracts of land, he said.

To prove his point, he showed the press his wallet, which contained just 200 pesos (about US$10) and a two-dollar bill he said was given to him as a good-luck charm by a Mexican living in the United States.

However, the president — widely known by his initials, AMLO — has already landed in hot water with some aspects of his austerity push.

His decision to cancel a new US$13-billion airport for Mexico City that was one-third built caused investor jitters and a stock market rout.

And when he moved to cut the pay of any public employee earning more than his own newly reduced salary of about US$5,500 a month, it triggered a flood of lawsuits, most recently from the central bank, which questioned whether the measure was constitutional.

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