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Indigenous communities ‘unanimously’ in favor of Mayan Train, officials claim

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A representative from the Mexican government’s department of indigenous people stands while a ceremony is performed to open the consultation in Tenabo, Campeche. Photo: Lexie Harrison-Cripps / Al Jazeera

The first half of a weekend referendum ended “by consensus and without opinion against” the Mayan Train, the presidency reported.

After a dialogue with the federal government, indigenous communities’ proposals and needs will be incorporated and addressed in the project, which aims to trigger the sustainable development of the Yucatan Peninsula, the Mexican presidency said in a press release.

Saturday’s referendum occurred in Dzitás, Chichimilá, Tunkás, Tixpéhual and Maxcanú, in Yucatán; Tenabo, Campeche and Palenque, in Chiapas, where the Mayan, Ch’ol and Tseltal peoples were consulted.

Today, voting booths will be placed in public areas across the Yucatan Peninsula for the remainder of the citizenry to decide on the massive rail project. In Merida, the largest polling place will be in the Plaza Grande.

In Saturday’s assemblies, representatives and indigenous authorities discussed issues such as the defense of their territories, mainly the sacred ones; preservation and care of the environment and archeological zones; as well as the existing mechanisms for communities to integrate the economic, cultural and social benefits that the Mayan Train seeks to generate.

In compliance with national and international legal instruments and the Indigenous Consultation Process protocol on the Tren Maya Development Project, the government completed the first seven Regional Consultative Assemblies with municipal, agrarian and traditional authorities, representing Maya, Ch’ol Tsotsil and Tzeltal indigenous communities.

Prior to this consultation, on Nov. 29 and 30, 15 Regional Information Assemblies saw more than 4,000 indigenous authorities and representatives participate.

In cities, voting centers will be installed in 84 municipalities where train tracks are planned. Citizens can vote from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Polling locations are detailed here.

The Mayan Train would run 950 miles / 1,525 kilometers, connecting Riviera Maya resorts with archaeological sites in the interior of the peninsula.

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