Mayan Train Works Suspended by Local Court
Due to their risk regarding irreparable environmental damage, works on section 5 south of the Mayan Train are suspended. Yucatan’s district court granted a provisional suspension that indefinitely halts works on the Playa del Carmen-Tulum section of the landmark train project.
Speleologists and divers residing in Playa del Carmen, accompanied by the civil organization Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment (DMAS) filed an amparo against the construction of the Mayan Train, which was granted on April 19. Judge Adrián Fernando Novelo Pérez, determined that the suspension is appropriate to avoid imminent damage to the environment that would be difficult or impossible to repair.
"Although there is a public interest in the construction of roads for public service, there is also a public interest in ensuring that works are done under the legal provisions of the Mexican environmental law," explained Judge Novelo.
While the judge resolves the granting of the definitive suspension, the execution of works related to construction and infrastructure, as well as removal or destruction of the environment’s biodiversity cannot continue. The initial hearings in the amparo trial will begin on April 22. After the trial, it will be determined whether or not the definitive suspension will be granted, which could stop the construction of the Mayan Train’s section 5 south permanently.
This is the first time that a court has ruled against one of President López Obrador's stellar mega-projects. Since the beginning of its construction, the Mayan Train generated criticism because of jungle deforestation, the destruction of biodiversity and the risk generated by building train tracks over karstic soil full of caves, cenotes and subterranean rivers.
Originally, Section 5 South of the Mayan Train had been designed to run alongside the Cancun - Tulum highway. However, due to complications with the construction of the elevated viaduct in Playa del Carmen and opposition from the hotel sector, the route was modified to move through the jungle.
Recently, Greenpeace Mexico activists reported that the Angry Wasp cavern, as well as several subterranean rivers, are in the way of the construction of section 5 of the Mayan Train, making the construction unsafe for both region’s biodiversity and the train itself.
On March 28, after a group of artists released a video explaining that the project's new route will destroy the world's largest subterranean river system, President López Obrador accepted that the constructed presented legal complications. "There is still no official notification. We do not know what this is about, only what is already public knowledge. There is a campaign against the Mayan Train, financed by international organizations and Mexican businessmen for political purposes, not for environmental purposes," he said.