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News Article

Mayan Train Accused Of Promoting Paramilitary Activity

By Pedro Alcalá | Tue, 02/09/2021 - 13:00

FONATUR has decided to actively participate in the conflict between the Mayan Train and indigenous communities and organizations who might be inclined to reject the project, reports Proceso. This was going to be done by contracting “consultancy services for the generation of strategic intelligence in the construction of the Mayan Train.” The tender for these services includes the creation of coordination protocols between various public safety departments to protect the construction and operation of the Mayan Train. These departments would include federal armed forces, such as SEDENA, SEMAR and the newly created National Guard, along with state and municipal level law enforcement agents. 

The tender highlights security concerns involving regional criminal groups and the “instability” created by the flow of migrants from Mexico’s southern border. A third threat involves a “subversive movement” represented by the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN), a prominent dissident and armed authority over independently sovereign indigenous territories. The tender even calls for “field research” into local media and “social-political actors” to identify “potential threats.”  

The tender project failed, however, resulting in no contract being awarded. Unfortunately, the report has led to accusations against the project and FONATUR of trying to instigate paramilitary conflict against dissident indigenous communities. These accusations are further supported by declarations made by President López Obrador in December, also reported by Proceso, that SEDENA or a company managed by the federal armed forces could be put in charge of the train’s overall operation. As MBN reported last Thursday, the construction of the sixth and seventh segments of the train are expected to be completed by SEDENA. 

In January 2020, the EZLN declared to be against the Mayan Train project on the basis that the project would trespass on the limits of their collective lands and those of other indigenous communities, according to a report from Animal Político. However, not all indigenous resistance to the Mayan Train is connected or aligned to the EZLN. For example, the Ch’ol community has been twice granted a suspension against the train’s construction in their territories. 

Recent tensions have led to the recent creation, as detailed in an El Universal piece from last week, of a political collective action that includes the EZLN and the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), among many other participants, to “resist and combat this administration’s megaprojects.” This is expected to coincide with the EZLN’s historical international tour which will be taking place throughout 2021 to raise awareness at an international level of indigenous issues, according to a report from Cuarto Poder.   

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
MBN, Proceso, Animal Político, El Universal, Cuarto Poder
Photo by:   FONATUR
Pedro Alcalá Pedro Alcalá Journalist and Industry Analyst