Mexico’s first astronaut may run for president

Rodolfo Neri Vela

Rodolfo Neri Vela
Rodolfo Neri Vela

The first Mexican to go into space, Rodolfo Neri Vela, said he may consider runing for president in 2018, media reported.

Vela, 63, is a Mexican scientist and astronaut who went into space aboard a NASA Space Shuttle mission in 1985. He is the only Mexican, and the second Latin-American, to have travelled to space.

He said the idea of running for presidency followed a response to a question during a book presentation last week at the University of Veracruz, EFE news agency reported.

Asked whether he had thought about entering politics, he replied that he would seek the presidency as an independent, Vela said.

“I did not think the media would take it seriously. In less than a week I have received 100 e-mails giving me support,” he said while stressing that he would take his time making a decision about the 2018 contest.

Mexico’s biggest challenges are improving education and eliminating corruption, he said.

Vela said as president, he would release from prison every poor person who had been locked up for stealing food and then fill the cells with corrupt politicians.

Margarita Zavala, wife of former President Felipe Calderon, and Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera both announced their presidential bids earlier this week.