President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who takes office on December 1, put forth ten projects that were all approved in a referendum vote Monday. Critics questioned the referendum results, with voter turnout at approximately one for every ninety registered voters. A total of 946,000 people participated in the weekend referendum, which was the second that has been held since President-elect Lopez Obrador was elected in a landslide.
"Look at what the petition-signers don't know, I say it with all respect and I recognize the majority are very smart people, but as amazing it sounds, they need to make contact with the people in the countryside," President-elect Lopez Obrador wrote of his critics, including environmentalists who question his most controversial plan, a train to connect main tourist attractions across the Yucatan Peninsula, from Merida to resorts including Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum before it continues through sparsely populated areas such as Bacalar, Calakmul, and Palenque. Experts say the northern leg of the route makes economic sense, however the southern part does not as it runs through a jungle.
A native of the southern state of Tabasco, President-elect Lopez Obrador has vowed to champion projects in the country's often poor and underdeveloped southeast. The referendum also approved plans to construct an oil refinery, build a rail link between the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico, raise supplementary payments for the elderly, implement a massive reforestation program, and offer free internet and better health care. Each ballot measure, including those concerning youth scholarships and work-training programs, received between 90 and 95 percent approval. In particular, President-elect Lopez Obrador is irritated by the fact that Mexico imports much of its refined gasoline from the United States (U.S.) because its own refineries aren't up to the task.