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Indigenous communities face down Mayan Train promoters

Activists say tourist development has reduced Maya people to a brand name, leaving them scraping for jobs and smiling for tips

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The Mayan Train promoter team visited the indigenous communities of Campeche last week to present the project. Photo: Courtesy

The Mayan Train benefits only the investors, not indigenous communities, opposition leaders told a team sent by the federal government to promote the project.

Anti-train activists met with Rogelio Jiménez Pons, who leads Mexico’s tourism investment ministry, and Eduardo Lopez Moreno, the head of UN Habitat for Mexico and Cuba, to complain that all the Mayan Train promises them are uncertain jobs prospects.

Anastacio Oliveros, a beekeeper in Calakmul, explained that members of the Maya Alliance for the Bees of the Yucatan Peninsula have seen what big developments have done to local communities elsewhere.

In Cancun and the Riviera Maya, “the Mayan people have only obtained bad jobs, after losing their lands. For them, poverty and inequality followed. The zones have become a focus of violence and tourism has brought problems such as drug trafficking and human trafficking,” he said.

Wilma Esquivel Pat, vice president of the U Kuuchil K Chibalom Community Center and inhabitant of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Quintana Roo, told Animal Politico that Mayan communities are concerned about what tourism has generated in areas such as Cancun, the Riviera Maya and even Bacalar.

“We see what is happening there: drug trafficking, violence, murders, femicides and our young people working in the big hotels, serving those who despise them and having to smile a lot to earn a tip,” said Esquivel Pat.

Pedro Uc, an inhabitant of the community of Buctzotz, in Yucatan, and member of the Assembly of Defenders of the Mayan Territory Múuch ‘Xiinbal, echoed the point.

“What happens with megaprojects is that they strip people of their land, with deceit or with illusions. The communities divide, fight and end up leaving the place, and then for the Maya, there is only the name, the brand that they sell,” he said.

Source: Diario de Yucatan

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