President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced changes in three federal institutions, despite his COVID confinement. Changes include shifts in the Ministry of Wellbeing (BIENESTAR), the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (FONATUR), and the Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportations (SICT). These changes occur as a response to accelerate Federal Government´s key pending infrastructure projects.
The most relevant change took place in FONATUR. Former Minister of Wellbeing, Javier May, was appointed as the new chief in charge of the construction of the Mayan Train, considered one of the three key infrastructure projects of the present administration. The Former chief of FONATUR, Rogelio Jímenez Pons, will now become Undersecretary of Transportations at the SICT. Carlos Morán Moguel will become the new General Director of Mexico City International Airport (AICM), leaving his tenure as Undersecretary of Transportations.
Javier May has been a close collaborator of President López Obrador for the past 30 years and before taking office as Minister of Wellbeing in September 2020, he was Undersecretary of Planning, Evaluation and Regional Development at the same agency, where he was in charge of the program Sembrando Vida, another of President López Obrador’s priority social programs. May has held various public positions throughout his carrier both locally and at the federal level. Born in Tabasco (same state as President López Obrador), he has been Senator of Tabasco, Local Congressman, and Mayor of Comalcalco twice. Nevertheless, critics highlight his lack of experience in the construction and transportation industry, a sector where he will be exercising his new appointment. Responding to critics, Minister of Interior Adán Augusto López, said: “there is no need to be an engineer to coordinate construction and design works, what is truly needed is capacity and honesty because that allows the coordination between technical areas for a project like this one [the Mayan Train].”
May’s new role as Chief of FONATUR comes during challenging times, as the Federal Government fights against time to fulfill the construction of the Mayan Train by the end of 2023. The announcement also comes after a new agreement with the Mayan Riviera hoteliers was achieved to reroute the Mayan Train in Quintana Roo and the collaboration of the business community in the project. May´s main task will be to assure the project is fulfilled on time, before President López Obrador’s administration ends its six-year term in September 2024.
In regards to former Chief of FONATUR, Rogelio Jiménez Pons, the president has appointed him with a new task at the SICT. His new role as Undersecretary of Transportations will oversee the return of Mexico’s aviation authority to category 1 after it was degraded by the US Federal Aviation Administration in 2021. He will also participate in meetings related to the inauguration of the International Airport Felipe Angeles (AIFA).
Lastly, Carlos Morán, former Undersecretary of Transportations, will become Director of the Mexico City International Airport. His appointment occurs amid issues at the airport, where due to COVID-19, more than 335 flights have been canceled in past weeks. Morán was also entrusted with the assignment to improve the infrastructure at Terminal 1 of the AICM, as the airport is running overcapacity.
All of these changes in the federal cabinet come as a surprise, because on December 2, the president announced that he would not make any more changes to his cabinet for the second half of his administration. However, the relevance of the new appointments comes from the closeness of the officials with the president and from the strategic shift in benefit of the president’s key infrastructure projects. The Mayan Train has faced delays due to inconveniences with the hotelier’s business community and due to the karstic soil of the region. Meanwhile, the AIFA has challenged Mexican airspace operations. Both projects are of extreme relevance to the Federal Government, which has only three years to finish them and produce results.