The tourist development of the Mayan Train could have different social implications

(Photo: La Jornada maya)

The tourist development that the Mayan Train poles would generate could contribute to the increase in violence and the breakdown of the social fabric, warned Ana Esther Ceceña, a member of the Institute of Economic Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

For his part, Rodrigo Medellín, from the UNAM Institute of Ecology, explained that this federal government project has been built without studies of any kind, and as it is proposed, it is not sustainable or compatible with the socio-economic development of the peninsula.

The researchers participated on Thursday, March 31, in the Maya Train forum: analysis of the impacts from the academy, carried out by the UNAM University Seminar on Society, Environment, and Institutions.

According to Esther Ceceña, the entire area of ​​Quintana Roo has become an important drug trafficking route, and the presence of small gangs or groups of traffickers has been previously documented. She added that the big cartels have a presence in the area and are organized in small groups.

The also director of the Latin American Observatory of Geopolitics of the UNAM, explains in her article Military exercises in the Mexican Caribbean, that the drug routes have modified the relevance of the territories, particularly of the marine ones, which are the ones that allow a greater cover-up.

The increase in the consumption of cocaine diversified the supply routes, which traveled from the 1980s through different routes, until now covering all geographical possibilities, she added.

So, at the entrance of the trans-isthmus corridor is located the oil basin of Mexico and both the transisthmian railway and the Maya Train are glimpsed as its two exit routes to the world markets, with no opposition from the peoples, communities, or even national, regional, or local organizations. 

“We have a high risk there and to the extent that the community fabric and organization is broken with the advance of tourism and agro-industries… the defense of the population against these criminal groups tends to become much more fragile,” warned the specialist in her presentation.

These criminal groups promote human trafficking, slavery, prostitution, and everything that goes hand in hand with mass tourism, with large hotels and the lack of respect for local populations in projects of this dimension, he added.

Cultural socio-diversity

On the other hand, she indicated that of the 68 ethnolinguistic groups recognized by the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples, 44 have a community seat in the area where the Maya Train intends to pass and have been active for more than 3,000 years.

She revealed that the National Institute of History and Art (INAH) registered 7,274 archaeological value points in 2019, and 5,300 archaeological finds have been found in Section 1 alone since the construction of the Maya Train started.

Therefore, he indicated: “The enormous historical importance, culture of the country, which is being recovered, is at risk; the history of where we are from, through the experience of the peoples and archaeological finds that are threatened today,” he stated.

Development poles

For example, in Cancun, the accelerated urbanization brought by the tourism industry caused the town to go from one thousand hectares in 1990 to 13,400 hectares in 2019; and from 167,000 inhabitants to 1,300,000 in that same period.

This situation causes an intensification of economic activities such as livestock farms, agribusiness, real estate speculation, dispossession, and land displacement, among others, the researcher concluded.

Rodrigo Medellín, from the UNAM Institute of Ecology, recognized that the trains have been underestimated by several administrations, the railways in terms of passenger trains have been abandoned, and this could be a great possibility of triggering sustainable development, but “if things are done well,” he clarified.

In his opinion, the academic community thought that the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador was going to add several actors, open spaces for discussion, talk with their experts to understand where this initiative came from and where it was going; however, “the doors have been closed in our faces once again”.

“There is no executive project, a defined plan for where it will happen and what the side effects could be”, he added.

Just to mention some of the problems, he indicated that the train could pass through the Murciélagos volcano that is located in the Calakmul Reserve, one of the most important caves, which is estimated to be home to more than 3 million bats that eat insects as an important part of the food chain, as70 percent of these species of insects are pests for agriculture, “they are very close allies of agriculture in Yucatan and throughout the world.”

“I understand that they changed the route to go behind the cave, but it is also going to have lots of damage in a corridor where jaguars and other endangered species crosses,” he said.

“We have serious damages to species in danger of extinction. When the trace is put into the jungle, another series of impacts begins to be generated that put the future of the peninsula’s sustainability at greater risk, the aquifer is being affected too, ”he said.

The Yucatan Times
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