FONATUR Disputes Report Regarding Mayan Train RelocationsBy Pedro Alcalá | Thu, 05/06/2021 - 10:37
FONATUR does not agree with information published in an El Universal report that claims that 3,286 homes in 2,294 lots will have to be moved in order to make way for the Mayan Train, according to its current right of way documentation and permits. The report claims that these numbers were the ones provided by FONATUR in an official internal document called the “Program for the Acquisition of Relocations of Human Settlements in the Mayan Train’s Right of Way”, available here. The article reports that this relocation will cost US$177.22 million. These relocations are spread out over all of the peninsula’s major cities, including Campeche, Cancun, Merida, Palenque and Playa del Carmen. These families live within 20 meters of the train’s tracks, which according to FONATUR’s analysis means that the train represents a risk to their safety and welfare, while they represent a risk to the train’s construction process as well. This is further exacerbated by the fact that the train is technically classified as a “high speed rail” project. FONATUR is planning a comprehensive housing acquisition policy to relocate 1,314 of these homes in 2021 and 1,972 more in 2022.
Some of the homes will be built near the train but outside the 20-meter zone. Others will be built in completely different places. The relocation cost of this operation will cover the construction of these homes, including the moving and negotiation process. This implies that the negotiation, mediation and arbitration process with the families is yet to begin, and might extend itself for longer than currently expected by FONATUR. Perhaps this is what motivated FONATUR to write a letter to El Universal, published here. In it, FONATUR representatives claim that the Mayan Train “will not generate any eviction or relocation issues.” The letter reports that the process of getting right of way permits for the train revealed the serious housing crisis that these areas demonstrate, and that the purpose of the project became to use the train as a means to solve this crisis by building or obtaining better homes for these families. This process will be overseen by the UN’s Habitat division.
The publication includes a response from the original piece’s author to FONATUR’s letter. In it, he correctly specifies that he never used the word “eviction”. This is a crucial point because FONATUR would not want the Mayan Train to be associated with a difficult, forceful and at times even violent legal process. The author also notes that all of the figures included in the piece were indeed quoted in the original FONATUR internal document. Since the negotiation process that will initiate these relocations is yet to begin, it continues to be impossible to predict how these local communities will react to the offers and needs of the Mayan Train project.