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In El Cuyo, residents fight back after a 4-story beach condo is approved

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Riad Romeo in El Cuyo. Residents are not happy about a building this big in a tiny fishing village.

With 40 luxury units and beachfront views, Riad Romeo will be El Cuyo’s tallest building by far.

And Mexico’s environmental ministry has approved it. Units are already being sold online in the US$200,000 range. Local residents of this tiny fishing village, however, are up in arms.

Local media points out that the Riad Romeo was approved after much smaller projects have been rejected on environmental grounds.

The complex is technically four stories, but considering the ground-floor parking and the roof-top pool, it’s more like five and a half or six. Riad Romeo includes a restaurant, rooftop swimming pool, and parking beneath the first floor. That threatens the natural environment and local wildlife, and would cause sewage, litter, and light pollution problems, critics say.

Also at risk are the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve’s mangroves and habitats for flamingos, crocodiles, fish, sea turtles, and migratory birds. Local resources and infrastructure are already strained, critics said in local media.

In December, 15 boutique hotels were reported under construction. Mayor Pedro Couoh Suastee said they would have less of an impact on the village. They are in low-rise buildings, under three stories, with an average of 10 rooms.

El Cuyo is on the Gulf Coast near the Quintana Roo border, about a three- to four-hour drive from Mérida. It is between Chiquilá, where the ferries to Isla Holbox depart, and Rio Lagartos.

Tourism here is growing because El Cuyo is gaining an international reputation for kitesurfing.

“It is practiced there because there are very good winds, some paradisiacal beaches that tourists enjoy a lot,” Couoh Suastee said. 

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