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Valladolid at center of proposed indigenous economic zone

Some of the state's poorest towns would benefit, but federal law prohibits it

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Valladolid and 11 other municipalities in Yucatan’s east are in a proposed special indigenous economic zone. Photo: Getty

Valladolid and 11 other municipalities would become a “special indigenous economic zone” (ZEEI) under a proposal floated by several politicians and two economists.

Tixcacalcupul, Chichimilá, Uayma, Chikindzonot, Tekom, Chankom, Chemax, Kaua, Temozón, Cuncunul and Tinum would also be roped into the zone, meant to attract outside investment.

Those towns’ mayors and the governor are advocating for the zone.

Large, international pharmaceutical research centers and scientific companies would be given tax incentives to set up shop in the ZEEI, and use the Cancun and Chichen Itza airports to transport products and personnel.

The 12 municipalities, all in Yucatan’s east, have large indigenous populations. Six of the towns are among the poorest in the state.

On the coast, the Port of Progreso already has special economic zone status, but the inland towns are too far away to benefit.

“We’re talking about a distance of 200 kilometers; it’s another region, it’s the most marginalized area of the state of Yucatan, located exactly halfway on the highway between Merida and Cancun,” said Jesús Bastarrachea Cabrera, one of the plan’s promoters.

Bastarrachea explained that the main cause of poverty in the 12 municipalities is a lack of employment opportunities, a situation he believes the ZEEI proposal can change.

Traditional Mayan herbal medicine has not been lost in the concept.

“Another complementary approach … would be the herbal activity, the practice of traditional Mayan medicine and agricultural production. It is about making known all the richness of the Mayan culture, without losing its own identity, taking care of the flora and native fauna …) the objective would be to supply the states of the west coast of the United States,” he said.

The proposal has been well received by business chambers, he said, but changes to federal law would be required to make the zone a reality. Only one special economic zone is allowed to exist in each state.

A letter, signed by the 12 mayors and Gov. Mauricio Vila Dosal, will be presented to the new federal administration in December to formally propose the zone.

Source: El Economista

{ Related: Asian investment eyed in Progreso … and in Merida }

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