Image credits: FONATUR
News Article

Mayan Train Tensions Amid Talks With Indigenous Communities

By Pedro Alcalá | Wed, 12/02/2020 - 19:13

FONATUR reports a series of gatherings between the federal government and over 693 representatives from indigenous communities to grant legitimacy to the results of the plebiscites of indigenous communities. The gatherings took place in the states of Campeche, Chiapas, Tabasco, Yucatan and Quintana Roo. These sessions also included informative forums on subjects that included the project’s environmental impact studies, the precautions being taken to mitigate risks related to COVID-19 and procedures being followed by INAH to make sure the project does not damage indigenous and national archeological heritage. While there have been no major reports of conflict in these gatherings, it is worth noting that one of the project’s most widely read critical coverage comes from the Twitter account of linguist, writer and indigenous activist Yásnaya Gil, which was hacked two weeks ago and remains unrecovered, reported El Universal.

The Mayan Train faces other issues, as well. 1,500 new archeological sites have been found in the train’s construction route, reports El Financiero, a number so high that it has created the need to redirect the train. These sites were found in the train’s third segment, between the states of Yucatan and Campeche. Another contentious event was the release of two critical reports of the project published on Animal Político and Aristegui Noticias. The Animal Político piece reported that while certain divisions of the UN, such as UNOPS and UN-Habitat, were actively supporting the Mayan Train project, other organisms within the UN, such as its Human Rights Council, were sending letters of concern and condemnation to the Mexican government regarding the project’s lack of transparency and possible violation of the human rights of indigenous communities. The report says that President López Obrador’s administration appears to be pitting the UN and its divisions against each other. Aristegui Noticias’ report focuses on families that are being affected by the project’s efforts to secure “right of way” permits in the state of Chiapas. These families declared that the firm in charge of this effort, Despacho Barrientos y Asociados, has been obtaining these permits through verbal agreements that have not been backed up by contracts guaranteeing them promised compensation payments for their properties or even homes that will have to be bulldozed and cleared away to make way for the train.

Despite these and all the setbacks that we have been reporting through 2020, the Mayan Train’s construction continues. Por Esto reports today that the state of Campeche’s territorial reorganization mandate derived from the needs of the Mayan Train will be signed soon. This effort will give state authorities more leeway to develop the land surrounding the train and boost economic growth.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
FONATUR, El Universal, El Financiero, Animal Político, Aristegui Noticias, Por Esto
Photo by:   FONATUR
Pedro Alcalá Pedro Alcalá Journalist and Industry Analyst