North America’s Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) refused to open a file to investigate the construction of the Mayan Train after this was requested by a group of civil society organizations. The rejection comes after a judge revoked an injunction against the project, which enabled the train’s development to continue.
Among the organizations that promoted the petition are Moce Yax Cuxtal, Gema de Mayab, Red de Formadores Socioambientales, Sélvame del Tren, Cenotes Urbanos and Jaguar Life Center, which argue that the government flouted environmental legislation in the country’s southeast to prioritize the construction of the Mayan Train, specifically its Section Five that connects Tulum with Playa del Carmen.
According to the NGOs, the Mayan Train violates Chapter 24 of the USMCA treaty, which has been valid since July 2020 and establishes that members must strictly apply environmental law. The organizations pointed out that the project crosses over underground rivers and caves and may compromise flora and fauna. “Mexico did not comply with the preventive proceeding for environmental evaluation and owing to the segmentation of the project in different sections, it did not consider significant, cumulative, direct, indirect and residual environmental impact,” stated the petition.
The NGOs highlighted that the government’s geological studies are inadequate since they do not consider the fragility of the karst and soil of the Yucatan peninsula, which in the future could cause the infrastructure to sink, as well as risks in the transportation of fuel.
The organizations also argue that the project violates other national and international regulation, including Mexico’s constitution, the General Law for Environmental Equilibrium and Protection, as well as the Pact of San Jose and the Río Declaration, among others.
Nonetheless, the petition was rejected by CEC, which is tied to the USMCA’s. mechanisms. According to CEC, the petition does not meet the requirements for it to open a file, but it stated that NGOs can rewrite the petition and register it again before October 2022. Although the organism does not have the authority to apply sanctions, it can publish a file when it considers that a claim is well-founded.
CEC was created within the framework of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), founded at the same time as the USMCA. Its purpose is to review regional environmental issues and promote the correct application of environmental laws in North America.