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Indigenous people complain that ‘Mayan Train’ steals both their land and their name

'In the end, we always end up cleaning their toilets'

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The only Maya trait the “Mayan Train” project will have is the cheap labor and services that inhabitants will offer tourists in the future, writes Esteban Suarez in Al Dia.

“In the end, we always end up cleaning their toilets,” Manuel Puc, a rural worker who lives off the cultivation of his land, told El País. “Why do we always have to be the bricklayers or the waiters for the tourists? Maybe we don’t want a train but good universities or an equipped hospital.”

If the Tren Maya project is completed, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will go down in history as the president who has built more kilometers of railroad since Porfirio Diaz.

But inhabitants of the regions where tracks will penetrate oppose the project because, among other things, the term “Maya” has appropriated and applied to something that doesn’t belong to Maya people.

“They have stolen the word from us,” said Puc. “They diminish our culture and our identity by giving the name to the train.”

Indeed, basic services are lacking throughout the Peninsula.

“I believe that we have the right to light, potable water, or a good school without having to accept the train,” said Anastasio Oliveros, a beekeeper from Conhuas, where one of the stations is planned to be built.

Track construction alone will cost the region more than 10,000 trees, according to an environmental impact statement. But Mexico officials think it’s worth it.

“We gain nothing as a country by having fat jaguars and starving children; there has to be a balance,” said Rogelio Jiménez Pons, director of Fonatur, the agency that funds tourism project.

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