PUERTO MORELOS, Q. Roo — The state of Quintana Roo has officially welcomed its 11th municipality, Puerto Morelos, amidst dissension and claims of irregularities.
Located in the Riviera Maya between the Caribbean destinations of Cancún and Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos has a port, a natural protected area — the Puerto Morelos National Reef Park, just over 10,000 hotel rooms and two health centers. Population of the new municipality is about 37,000.
Puerto Morelos was formerly a part of the northern municipality of Benito Juárez, whose seat is the city of Cancún. State Governor Roberto Borge Angulo decreed the creation of the new municipality in October last year, a decision that was later approved by the state Congress. On Wednesday Jan. 6, the new municipality formally came into being.
After the official ruling last year, Benito Juárez ceded about half its territory to Puerto Morelos, leaving the former with 97,000 hectares and the latter with 104,000.
The eight members of the municipal council were sworn in Jan. 6 in the town’s main square. The council will oversee Puerto Morelos’ first mayoral elections on July 3. On September 29, the council will hand over administrative responsibilities to the first elected mayor.
Those who disagree with the creation of the new municipality have two concerns, territorial and political.
The social movement SoyLatitud21 (I am latitude 21) claims that the boundaries of the new municipality do not respect Puerto Morelos’ historical territory.
The movement’s name alludes to that claim, as the El Cïrculo ranch, located on the 21st parallel, corresponds to the historical boundaries of the town.
SoyLatitud21 claims that Puerto Morelos was stripped of a 10-kilometer-long stretch of beach, representing losses of 150 million pesos (USD $8.6 million) in property taxes, money it says is needed to address the municipality’s social needs.
On the political side, the movement claims that the eight council members were “imposed,” and accuses them of being traitors for allegedly negotiating the “lopping off” of Puerto Morelos territory.
The town is home to the state’s largest seaport, and has been growing rapidly due to the growth of the tourism industry.
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