USMCA panel to open environmental probe of Maya train

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Greenpeace protestors block progress at a Mayan Train work site in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Photo: Greenpeace

A trilateral commission established by the U.S., Mexico and Canada has recommended opening an investigation into the Maya Train.

Environmentalists filed a complaint saying the Maya Train project threatens jungles and cenotes, according to the Associated Press. The cenotes have also yielded some of the oldest human remains found in North America.

The train is being rushed to completion as the pet project of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who wants it finished before he leaves office in September 2024. He has actually promised its completion this December.

The trilateral commission for environmental concerns was established by the governments of Mexico, the United States and Canada in 1994, and operates under the USMCA free trade agreement. Its findings could be used in trade disputes.

The commission said in a statement late Tuesday that the investigation will look into “the environmental impact assessment procedures for the Maya Train project, including relevant studies and alleged fragmentation of the environmental impact studies, as well as the change in land use authorization.”

It is the hurried approval and construction on that Cancún-Tulúm stretch that is at the center of the complaint.

Inside those water-filled cenotes are archaeological sites that have lain undisturbed for millennia, like Naia, the nearly complete skeleton of a young woman who died around 13,000 years ago.

José “Pepe” Urbina, a diver who has explored the caverns for decades, welcomed the investigation of the train project, even though the Mexican government has already started sinking concrete piles into the fragile limestone soil to build the railway.

“This is good news; it comes a little late, but better late than never,” Urbina said.

Source: Associated Press

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