Mansion illegally built in Tulum’s protected area is guarded by armed men

In six months, a luxurious home was built next to the wall that protects the Tulum National Park (PNT), which is classified as a Natural Protected Area. This classification prohibits any construction within 664.32 hectares since 1981.
 
Another presidential decree issued on December 8, 1993, declare the site as the Tulum-Tankah archeological area an increases the ban on constructions within 692 hectares.
 
The luxurious home was built near the beach and it’s located next to the archeological wall. Besides violating a presidential decree, the home violates an agreement reached in December 2007, in favor of the National Natural Protected Areas Commission (Conanp), which established this government department administers 184,409 square meters in the federal shoreline area next to the PNT to protect and preserve the environment, especially since it is home to the sea turtle.
 
Furthermore, the construction also violates what is established in the Great Reserve of the Mexican Caribbean, Natural Protected Area (ANP), issued in 2016, by invading an area that is not fit for urban development, that is subjected to rules to protect and preserve beaches, as well as rules to protect a rocky intertidal zone since it is an essential ecosystem for native species.

As a result of all these violations, the Tulum National Park reported the construction to the Federal Attorney’s Office for Environmental Protection (Profepa) in 2019; However, the complaints were unsuccessful and the construction continued until the home was completed.
 
The National Anthropology and History Institute (INAH) will inspect the mansion built inside the protected area, near the Tulum-Tankah archeological zone.
 
Margarito Molina, an INAH representative in the area, said that besides inspecting the luxurious home, the institute has launched an investigation regarding the construction.
 
IMolina said: “we also have to verify if there are damaged to the archeological heritage, whether is has permits or not; we’re investigating who is the owner and if there is a violation of the presidential decree that established the Archeological Monuments Tulum-Tankah Zone. ”
 
The INAH official said the institute is collaborating with the Tulum National Park to enforce the decrees.
 

Complaints before the Attorney General’s Office
 
Fernando Orozco Ojeda, the Tulum National Park director, said that a few weeks ago, park rangers noticed the mansion was completed and that it was protected by armed men.
 
Orozco Ojeda declared: “We reported it to the Profepa when the construction had started and we alerted the FGR, which has offices in Playa del Carmen; we returned to the area recently, which is difficult to access and oh what a surprise! The house was completed. ”
 
This is one 27 complaints filed by the Conanp before the Attorney General’s Office in the last five years. The lawsuits were filed because it is illegal to built private homes inside this federal area since it was expropriated by the government in 1981.
 
The hotels, restaurants who previously violated the law to build their facilities include Hotel Acuario, Poc Na, Kai, Kore Tulum, Club de Playa Santa Fe, Boa Beach Tulum, Revolución Pancho Villa, Casa Miramar, Playa Paraiso, Dreams Tulum, Playa Esperanza , Club Villa Pescadores, Mezzanine, My Love; as well as three other private properties.
 
However, all these businesses and homeowners have found ways to obtain special permits to build facilities in a protected area.
 
The Supreme Court rules in favor of the government
 
The presidential decree that established the area as a national park was validated by the Supreme Court in 2011 after the Mexican government, through the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry, took legal action against the Solidaridad city council in 2008.
 
In 2008, Tulum was part of the Solidaridad municipality. Back then, Carlos Joaquín González governed the municipality, which approved an update to the Urban Development Program, a plan that aimed to allow constructions near the archeological area, something only the federal government could approve.
 
The modifications were approved under the argument that since they were hotels in the area, even when they were built illegally, authorities needed to set urban limits and rules; therefore, local authorities attempted to incorporate the protected area to the population center and allow several construction projects.
 
Moreover, between 1990 and 2007, the Quintana Roo government issued 14 property deeds that affected 11 private properties and land donated by the Agrarian Reform Ministry to the government.

Between 2000 and 2007, the Environment Ministry issued four environmental impact permits and two extensions. Back then, authorities estimated the operation of 800 hotel rooms and rustic cabins. In 2020, there are over 1,000 hotel rooms.

In the verdict issued by the Supreme Court in 2011, the court dismissed the arguments presented by the Solidaridad municipality. Instead, it ruled in favor of the government and the presidential decree issued in 1981. Moreover, it stated that hotel owners have no rights in the natural protected area, therefore, they are illegally occupying the area.

Orozco Ojeda claims that the Solidaridad government respected the decision made by the Supreme Court, regarding the ownership of the Tulum National Park.

The problem is that despite the decrees, the verdict, and other restrictions, the construction inside the national park persists and local authorities continue to issue permits.

Although the properties have been shut down by the Profepa, the owners dismiss the measures implemented by the authorities and changed the hotel names, which increases the confusion inside the area. The Profepa didn’t take further measures and impunity reigns.

Regarding the latest case, the official explains that the home is owned by Rogeiro Dos Santos, who claims to have all the necessary permits; however, this would illegal since no authority can issue permits to build a mansion inside a federal area.

At the request of the Conanp, the current Tulum administration, led by Mayor Víctor Mass Tah, revoked several construction permits, that allowed constructions inside the national park. Moreover, Orozco Ojeda says the city council violates the presidential decrees and the Supreme Court’s decision.

On May 27, 2019, the former director of the Environmental and Urban Regulation and Climate Change, Gustavo Maldonado, sent Orozco a registry of the permits issued by the Tulum city council, which were later revoked and resulted in a trial.

On March 10, Maldonado was fired and replaced by Jorge Portilla Manica, a businessman with evident conflicts of interest. Manica’s family owns at least once a hotel inside the protected área and owns at least 20 parcels of land in Tulum.

The national park director explained that in a bid to eradicate illegality, on September 13, he asked the Quintana Roo government to issue an alert to all the notaries in the state to prevent them from granting title deeds inside the Tulum park.

Arturo Contreras Castillo issued the alert on October 3.

Source: El Universal



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