Javier May Rodríguez, the Mayan Train’s recently appointed director, says the rail project is seven months behind schedule.
But external auditors say the setbacks are in fact even more significant than admitted to by the federal government.
Several tourism industry leaders have expressed concern that the project may not be finished by the time President Andrés Manuel López Obrador concludes his term in 2024.
Despite the delays, Section 1 of the rail network which runs through Tabasco, the home state of President López Obrador, is scheduled for completion this year — according to Rodríguez May.
Further complicating the project are at least 25 legal injunctions against the project — including two more presented last week. However, the federal government has decided to go forward with construction regardless, in what to legal experts appears to be a clear breach of the law.
The president described May Rdoríguez as a “soldier for the cause” and a long-time friend and ally. But critics have said that the new director lacks the skills and credentials to oversee such a massive project.
“The new director of the Mayan Train only has a high school diploma, but he was born in Tabasco and the president likes him, and that is all you need to get ahead under this administration,” said journalist Max Kaiser on Twitter.
The president and his party accused their critics of racism and classism, arguing that May Rodríguez was up for the job.
This is not the first time the president has promoted someone deemed unqualified to hold high positions of power. For example, his former driver known as “Nico” was controversially granted a prominent position in Mexico City’s government.
The route of the Mayan Train is to span the Mexican states of Tabasco, Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo.
The Mayan Train was a campaign promise of now President Andrés Manuel López Obrador who was elected in 2018. The project hopes to stimulate tourism in the region and contribute to the economic development of southeastern Mexico.