DragonMart Threatens Lawsuits Against Environmental Activists
By Sylvia Lahoma Ponce de Leon
- Local authorities, activists, entrepreneurs and environmentalists warn of the economic, social and environmental damage in the Riviera Maya if Dragon Mart is installed and built.
- The corporate entity of DragonMart has now responded with threats of lawsuits against the parties involved in the protest’s.
Juan Carlos López Rodríguez, the general manager and legal representative of the company Real Estate DragonMart Cancun threatened to the environmental organizations and civil societies to sue them, if they persist in denouncing the environmental, social and economic damage by building one of the world’s largest Chinese commercial complexes in the municipality in Benito Juarez, Quintana Roo.
Rodriguez Lopez sent a letter to the general director of the Mexican Center of Environmental Rights (CEMDA in Spanish), Gustavo Alanis Ortega. In the communication Rodriguez threatens to take legal action against the organization if they do not stop the “attacks” on the project.
Dragon Mart is predicted to be the center of the largest Chinese business in the American Continent.
Rodriguez Lopez demanded that the “defaming” and “discrediting” of the company stop, otherwise, he warned he will act “according to law” against these organizations.
According to the organizations, construction and opening of the Dragon Mart will impact inevitably the ecosystem, commerce and the lives of hundreds of thousands of people living in and around that region.
On December 12, Deputy Luz Maria Beristain and David Monreal Avila asked the Senate to require the Governor of Quintana Roo, Roberto Borge Angulo, to report in detail about the project within less than 30 days.
The opposition against the DragonMart project denounced a large number of irregularities and opacity, concerning the amount of investment, project reach, the business plan and the environmental and social impact it will have on the region. These factors amount to a vital importance to the regional economy, including primarily the Yucatan peninsula and states surrounding it. Building plans show an area of 126,639 square meters of construction to be finalized and inaugurated in 2014.
The representative of Dragon Mart Cancun argues that the corporation’s developers and designers reject that construction will cause environmental impacts, also accusing Juan Carlos López Rodríguez of orchestrating a “legal, political and media strategy ” tending to defame and discredit his person and the corporation. These allegations, he adds, “are inaccurate, false and slanderous and jeopardize not only the project, but the integrity of those who participate in it.”
***Looking Deeper into DragonMart, source: Avaaz.org***
“Dragon Mart Cancun” is a mega-project set to build the largest business center and cooperation of China in Latin America. They plan to develop 192 hectares, investing $200 million dollars. The building would be a complete oriental style shopping center with commercial pavilions in an area of 120 thousand square meters, including industrial buildings, three thousand local wineries, plus a housing area of 60 thousand hectares with 250 houses and housing projects, which would shelter between 2,500 and 3,000 families who come to China to work at DragonMart Cancun.
Despite all of the urban and ecological laws of Benito Juarez district and without permission from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), the project has for about three months now began the deforestation of 192 hectares of forests in the vicinity of Puerto Morelos, in the North of Quintana Roo. In this area, the law limits land use to: natural areas, tourism and mining, with minimal housing construction, two, three or four homes per acre, maximum.
This Chinese-Mexican mega operation was obtained on September 6, 2012 with the authorizing of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that promoted to the Institute of Environmental Impact and Risk of Quintana Roo (INIRA) last July 31 irregularly, and denied a public consultation, thus obstructing the right to information and consultation.
We (aavaz.org) believe that a project of this magnitude, which will have severe social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts, should be evaluated by the General Directorate of Environmental Impact and Risk Federation and the Ministry of the Interior, as this explicitly involves a massive immigration of Chinese citizens nationwide.
Furthermore, in the words of Juan Carlos Lopez Rodriguez, director of the project in the state of Quintana Roo, stated “… as essential port height in Puerto Morelos, vital maritime infrastructure for the first three years of operation the commercial equate of the volume of trade that was the site of Dubai in 2011, was up to 52,000 sea containers”.
Puerto Morelos is a tourist-fishing village which houses the “Parque Nacional Arrecife de Puerto Morelos”. It is completely incompatible with such mega-projects, for its large reef and mangrove ecological fragility. In addition, the main economic activities of the area are fishing, snorkeling on the reef and ecotourism. The threat of the Dragon Mart Cancun project for this community is imminent, as just to supply the Chinese empire, there would have to enter through its small port about 140 shipping containers per day in its first stage, but it is expected that within three years, in full operation, to enter over 400 containers per day. This, regardless of the ground mobilizing all that good would make to Puerto Morelos in parking trailers, cargo areas and unloading cranes, which would be an irreparable impairment to their fragile and important ecosystems and end tourism in the entire area. Moreover, to facilitate the arrival of the boats, which would undoubtedly dredge the seabed adjacent to the National Park, and is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, whose conservation and protection Mexico signed an international treaty over a decade ago.
The Dragon Mart project is contrary to the provisions of: (1) the General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection, (2) official standards NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2001 and NOM-022-SEMARNAT-2003, ( 3) Management Program Reef National Park Puerto Morelos, (4) the Local Ecological Program of the Municipality of Benito Juarez, Quintana Roo, Mexico, (5) the Territorial Ecological Program Cancun-Tulum, (6) Regulation of the General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection in the field of environmental impact assessment (7) General Law for Sustainable Forestry Development.
In addition to ecological impacts, allowing the construction of DragonMart in Quintana Roo would bring disastrous economic consequences for the domestic industry, it would be like “giving the coup de grace” to the already affected Mexican industries by the invasion of Chinese goods. The project presents an opportunity to open more than 3,500 Chinese entrepreneurships to offer their products throughout the region without intermediaries, which is on one hand an unfair competition with national and regional companies, and on the other a preference for China labor work on Mexican workers. We know that Mexico cannot compete with China for differences in energy costs, raw materials, labor, taxes and many other variables. Nationally, the opening of Chinese products has already caused serious impacts on the footwear industry and could result in the loss of 35,000 jobs and the closure of about 200 Mexican companies. The domestic industry does not have the capacity to compete with Chinese production: while Mexico produces annually about 240 million pairs of shoes, China has an annual production of 16 billion pairs, mostly of poor quality. Other industries that will be seriously affected are the toys, which currently imports between 35% and 65% of their items, and textiles, as Chinese garments are sold at low cost and are of lower quality. The garment industry is composed of 20,000 companies, representing 10% of gross domestic product (GDP) Manufacturing of Mexico, and 90% of them are in small and medium enterprises that generate directly and indirectly around a million jobs, number that will be seriously affected by the tariff reduction and massive introduction of Chinese products. In conclusion, the number of jobs the project “Dragon Mart Cancun” offers to create locally, does not justify the implications of possible job losses nationwide.
Unlike the tourism industry, in which the Mexicans have access to a range of job opportunities at all levels, the strategic hub “Dragon Mart Cancun” Mexican would be offered only lower-income jobs (quartermaster, employees local, etc.), while foreigners Chinese would have access to all the benefits of economic investment and even housing (housing development is planned to provide housing to the families of the more than 3,500 Chinese who migrate to the region), benefits that in no way Mexicans will have access to.
This strategy is no stranger to the act of state enterprises in China, it is a proven model, repeated in more than twenty countries in which China has invested, always with disastrous social results. Whenever big government and Chinese consortia establish a “megaproject, dazzling, and promising” in a country (as happened in Peru, Argentina, Dubai, Kazakhstan, Burma), it has left a disastrous social imprint on the local community. It never receives the economic benefits of these projects, their natural resources are plundered and it creates poverty belts to increase dramatically, along with corruption, violence and social inequality.
From a cultural standpoint, a project like the Dragon Mart will surely have a negative impact on the local population, irrevocably changing the idiosyncrasies and cultural environment of the place. Without downgrading any foreign nationality, the fact that thousands of families from China are to be “imported” into Mexico, will completely alter the social and cultural dynamics of the surrounding communities and threaten the cultural identity and the tourist attractions of the area.