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Mexico has no plan to undo environmental devastation from Mayan Train project

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Construction of the Mayan Train is ongoing in southeastern Mexico, despite several court rulings compelling it to stop. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Mexico’s federal transparency agency requires that the Mayan Train project lay out a plan for how it will undo the environmental harm it has created. 

The news comes after several environmental groups requested to review such a plan, forcing Fonatur and Mayan Train officials to admit that nothing like that exists. 

In recent weeks, posts on Youtube, Reddit, and other social media have included images and videos of vast sways of rainforest devastated by the project.

“It does not matter if a project is run by the federal government or a private company, environmental impact plans are required by law, but the rules have quite simply not been followed,” said Transparency Commissioner Normal Julieta Río Venegas.

There has been no discussion regarding fines or project cancellations despite the lack of proper procedure on the part of the federal government.

The environmental viability of the Tren Maya has been called into question before. 

In fact, since 2021 multiple injunctions against any further construction of the Mayan Train have been handed down by courts in several states, mostly on environmental grounds. 

Much of the opposition to the Mayan Train comes from indigenous groups, an embarrassment for a president who has positioned himself as an ally of the Maya of southeastern Mexico.

Earlier: 600 acres expropriated in Quintana Roo for new Mayan Train route

“The words of President AMLO are a trick used to hide the war which he is waging against indigenous peoples and the life of mother earth itself,” said a joint press communique issued by El Concejo Indígena Mexicano and El Congreso Nacional Indígena.

In response, Mexico’s Interior Department issued a broad decree requiring all federal agencies to give automatic approval for any public works project — including the Tren Maya — that the government deems in the national interest.

Leonardo Núñez, a researcher at the nonprofit Mexicans Against Corruption, called the decree “extremely dangerous.”

A growing number of observers is beginning to express concerns that the project will never be completed, and was never feasible to begin with. More than halfway through AMLO’s tenure, the Mayan Train is roughly 15% complete, according to official sources.

In a tourist circuit, the 900-mile Mayan Train would connect Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo. It was designed to ostensibly “spread the wealth” that tourists lavish on Cancún, Tulum, and other coastal cities.

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