The Interoceanic Corridor’s Projected Impact on SocietyBy Rodrigo Brugada | Tue, 04/27/2021 - 19:01
The interoceanic corridor aims to restore approximately 300 km of railways to ensure the swift mobilization of goods from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, as reported by MBN. Still, its objectives are much broader in scope. This project aims to bring significant economic growth to the region and special economic zone as a whole through infrastructure and service developments integrated into the corridor’s network. These include the rehabilitation and expansion of the existing ports and the installation of industrial parks, special manufacturing hubs and other infrastructure from global corporations. The area will also benefit from the corridor’s interconnectedness with other public sector megaprojects, such as the Mayan Train. This project also seeks to maintain existing energy infrastructure, as stated by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in the shape of the Minatitlán and Salina Cruz refineries. It will also build new infrastructure that will ensure transportation of oil and gas as needed.
The project has three main pillars, claims Hector Ramírez, Head of the Regional and Social Development Unit at CIIT, in an interview published by Bnamericas. The first one focuses on the logistic platform and infrastructure projects at the core of the Tehuantepec isthmus development program. The second involves attracting investments. The third aims to boost economic development in the region. Ramírez addresses in the same interview the plans to keep economic growth going after the three main infrastructure projects have concluded. These include bringing essential services such as access to clean water and electricity to the area, building highways, boosting social infrastructure such as schools and hospitals and reorganizing zoning to prevent uncontrolled housing.
This project might bring hope to a highly fragile region: President López Obrador has said that previous administrations abandoned the area and focused more on investments in the north. This abandonment reveals itself as extreme inequality within multiple metrics, as explored in Nexos, and profoundly impacts economic and human development. One crucial aspect to keep in mind is the territory itself and the people that live in it. According to CIIT data there are about 2.4 million residents in the region, 60 percent of them living in poverty. More than half of the population living in this area self-identifies as indigenous.
Regarding the promises towards a better financial future, there are several points of conflict within this project. As further discussed in a publication by the Latin American Geopolitics Observatory, the concept of development itself as used in this project is outdated, for it was conceived before the climate crisis, the existing environmental risks and the conscience about the nature-society, which might affect the indigenous people it seeks to help. It should also be noted that, while the project has considerations towards the negotiation with these indigenous people and their communally-owned lands, there have not been enough consultations nor inclusion of indigenous people in the development of the project. Further, as stated by GeoComunes, among the 79 municipalities included in the project, 1245 ejidos and 35 communities would be affected and need to be consulted and approve of the project. As discussed in Animal Politico, These communities' needs have to be at the forefront of the project going forward to ensure sustainability and community empowerment.