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Is the Mayan Train ‘essential’ during a pandemic?

Rights groups calls out several reasons to suspend the project in light of the coronavirus crisis

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The president of Mexico is determined to go ahead with the Tren Maya project, despite the coronavirus contingencies. Photo: Agencies

Around 200 organizations and 60 activists demanded President Andras Manuel Lopez Obrador suspend work on the Mayan Train.

But while “non-essential” activities are banned for the time being, government officials intend to carry on the massive infrastructure project despite the global coronavirus pandemic.

“It is worrying that in the face of the health emergency that has been generated worldwide by the appearance of COVID-19, the federal government intends to maintain activities related to the project known as Tren Maya, despite the fact that its construction is absolutely not essential, and the project involves the eviction of people from their property, in the middle of the current pandemic,” civil organizations, collectives, communities, activists and citizens in general said in a statement.

The document — signed by groups such as Indignación, Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, Consejo Regional Indígena y Popular de Xpujil, Asamblea de Defensores del Territorio Maya Múuch’ Xíinbal, Articulación Yucatán, Red de Productores de Servicios Ambientales and the Colectivo de Comunidades Mayas de Los Chenes — states that the project risks the health and life of construction workers, as well as the general population, mainly indigenous people.

The coronavirus contingencies also strain the wheels of justice, where opponents of the train should have standing.

“Given the fact that the courts of law are not operating normally nationwide, the real possibility that individuals, communities or groups can exercise their access to justice to challenge any act or omission related to this project must be guaranteed. … The agreement that orders the construction of the so-called Tren Maya to be maintained despite the contingency, adds to the opacity and lack of information with which the federal government has managed this project,” the document further reads.

“Continuing this project in the current circumstances represents a serious violation of the human rights of the affected rural indigenous communities and of the population in general,” the document states.

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