An image of the devastation caused by the Tren Maya earned an international award for Fernando Constantino Martínez Belmar, a biologist and photographer from Yucatán.
The Mexican won in the photojournalism category, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, organized by the Natural History Museum in London.
His photograph, taken in section 5 of the train and titled: “Bulldozer tourism,” shows a few trees standing in the middle of the 1,554-kilometer route of the work.
“The photo captures the magnitude and violence of deforestation. The key to this photo is the scale. The towering trees look like matches. It instills almost a sense of panic: the laceration on Earth that seems to continue forever in our future,” the jury concluded.
“I feel very grateful for the recognition, but at the same time a little sad and worried, sometimes a little angry, about the whole situation in the Yucatan Peninsula regarding the ecocide caused by the Tren Maya. That is what my photography talks about,” Martínez Belmar, 37, said by telephone. On October 14 he was about to take the flight back from London after receiving the on Friday.
The prize had an economic part, 1,250 pounds, the publication, and the trip to London, but the main thing, he stated, is denouncing the ecocide of the Tren Maya, which began to be built in 2019 without studies or environmental permits, to the extent that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador declared it as national security to avoid the legislation.
“People are shocked when they look at the photograph,” he said.
The Tren Maya, a mega project originally valued at 140 billion pesos, with a circular route in the Yucatán Peninsula, started in 2019.
“Rain, shine or lightning, the Mayan Train is going to be built, whether they want it or not,” López Obrador then threatened. In the same terms, he promised to inaugurate it next December, and he will do so, although only a section, from Cancún to Escárcega, through Mérida.
“It is evident that this megaproject was poorly planned. I would say, terribly planned. Furthermore, the problem is not a train, the problem is how they are doing the project and where that train is going to pass, without taking into account everything that comes after the train. The problem is not only the millions of felled trees or the effects on fauna, it goes much further than this, it is the impact on the caves and aquifers,” accused the biologist.
Towards the other side, from Cancún to Escárcega, through Campeche, is the most delayed section, not only because they changed the route three times, but because the large number of cenotes and underground rivers in the protected natural area complicated the works.
In Quintana Roo, in Section 5, Martínez Belmar took the winning photo, after walking four kilometers through an underground cave system.
“Many people from all over the world will know this image, this sad story of what is happening in the Yucatan Peninsula,” he considered.
Last year, Martínez Belmar also won a prize in the same contest. But then it was with a photo of a snake hunting a bat, not one of devastated nature.