Environmental conservationists were opposed to “Punta Arrecifes”, a project that implied severe ecologic devastation.
For the inhabitants of Cozumel, Donald Trump is a well-known name, and not precisely for being the current president of the United States.
For the citizens of the island, as well as for businessmen and politicians in Quintana Roo, his name is linked to “Punta Arrecifes”, a 3-billion-dollar project that back in 2006 tried to build a complex over a virgin area at the eastern part of the island, but due to the opposition of the conservationists, it did not materialize.
The proposal, aimed at the tourism sector with high purchasing power, was practically an island within the island, since it included hotels, commercial plazas, airports, marinas and water channels communicated to the sea. “Punta Arrecifes” was disguised as a sustainable tourism project, but, according to conservationists, it would have meant an ecological threat with negative impact to the fragile ecosystem of the island.
When did the project start?
Trump – Cozumel history started back in June 2006, during the period of government of Gustavo Miguel Ortega Joaquín (2005-2008), at the hotel “Casa Mexicana”, when he presented the project to businessmen at the Sustainable Coastal Integral Administration (Administración Costera Integral Sustentable: ACIS).
When the plan was made public, environmentalists opposed it from the beginning, calling it “a damaging and predatory project”.
The plan was to build, initially, 2,868 rooms and 210 residences, which included townhouses and villas; it was a big project considering that the Isla Cozumel Hotel Association currently has 3,200 rooms registered.
Trump’s interest to concretize the project were so ambitious, that even Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. visited the island, and were attended by the then-major, with whom they made air-routes at the southwest part of the island.
On January 24, 2007, the then governor of Quintana Roo, Félix González Canto, declared that any investor had the doors open in Quintana Roo, as long as they acted within the laws.
Another issue related with the project was that it planned to include polygons in which Mayan vestiges are located, the most representative of them is known as El Castillo del Rey.
However, the most serious problem was that a large area of mangroves, lagoons, lowlands, wetlands, and cenotes would be devastated for its construction, in addition to putting at risk a system of coral colonies at Xa’nan beach, which are unique at the Caribbean area.
The project was falling into oblivion but did not die. Several years passed until Aurelio Joaquín González (2011-2013), talked about the subject again and confirmed to this newspaper to have received Trump’s sons for the second time.
The argument was to “create jobs and attract investment,” according to Aurelio Joaquín himself.
To date, it is unknown what the status of the “Punta arrecife” project is or if Donald Trump will seek to retake it, but it is rumored that the current President of the United States has invested a significant amount of money on local and state politicians to rush his request, although this information has never been confirmed.
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