Dozens of luxury cars seized from sticky-fingered politicians and mobsters will go under the hammer this weekend as part of a populist anti-corruption crusade being waged by Mexico’s leftist president.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador has vowed that proceeds from Sunday’s auction will be channelled into social programmes and deprived communities.
“We invite everyone to take part,” said López Obrador, who took office in December and is a friend of the UK Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. “Everything that is confiscated [from criminals] will be handed back to the communities, above all the country’s poor communities.”
Ricardo Rodríguez Vargas, the director of the newly created Institute to Return Stolen Goods to the People, said 82 vehicles with a combined valuation of nearly £1m would be up for grabs on Sunday.
They include a £61,000 Lamborghini Murciélago, a £50,000 Ford Shelby, a red Corvette, a 2009 Hummer, a collection of bulletproof SUVs and, for the less extravagant bidder, a 29-year-old Volkswagen Beetle.
The auction is being held at Los Pinos, a former presidential residence in Mexico City recently converted into a public cultural centre by López Obrador.
Vargas described the auction as an attempt to end Mexico’s “reverse Robin Hood” system by which “things were taken away from the people and given to the corrupt”. He said: “Not any more. Now, the order is to return these things to the people – who are the legitimate owners – in a quick, clear [and] transparent manner.”
Two other auctions – of luxury homes and jewellery – will be held in the coming weeks.
López Obrador’s pledge to “purify” Mexican politics has enthused corruption-weary voters who handed him a landslide victory last July. Six months into his six-year term, polls give him an approval rating of about 70%.
But some critics see Sunday’s auction as little more than a diversion and say there is little substance to López Obrador’s vows to eradicate corruption. “Bread and circuses,” an opposition senator, Javier Lozano, tweeted alongside a photograph of one of the auction’s Lamborghinis.