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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Ejido owners near Chichén Itzá reject lowball offer for land

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
The land the government intends to buy would be used for the construction of Chichén Itzá’s Mayan Train station, as well as parking lots. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Members of Pisté’s ejido have turned down a proposal by the federal government to buy 8.6 hectares of land for the Mayan Train project. 

Members of the ejido say the 4.6 million pesos offered by the government is extremely low given the land’s commercial value of 40 million.   

As the land in question is owned communally by 599 people, its sale at 4.6 million pesos would net just over 7,700 pesos (387 USD) for each ejido member. 

“If the members of the edijo are upset it’s because they feel like the government is trying to take advantage of them,” said Roger Pardío Villamil, legal counsel for Pisté’s ejido. 

Proposed design for the Mayan Train Station in Chichén Itzá. Photo: Fonatur

News of the impasse comes on the heels of similar disputes between communal landowners and authorities across the Peninsula. 

In Dzibilchaltún, a land dispute dating back 62 years led to the temporary closure of the archaeological site to tourists. Protestors from the nearby community of Chablekal argue that they own the land and that the government owes them rent.

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In the neighboring state of Quintana Roo, members of Cobá’s ejido are tangled in negotiations with the INAH over who should profit from ticket sales. 

“The archaeological site of Cobá is clearly within our ejido, yet we have not benefited at all from this fact,” said an ejido spokesperson, May Cen.

Complications stemming from sales and government expropriations of ejido lands are nothing new in the Yucatán or elsewhere in Mexico. But with the election of populist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, many feel that for the first time their claims have a chance of succeeding. 

“There is not much point dealing with bureaucrats, that’s why we are appealing our case directly to Andres Manuel. We backed him, and now it’s time he returned the favor,” said Ismael Ek of Pisté.

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