PBI-Mexico accompanied organizations express concern about Mayan Train megaproject

Published by Brent Patterson on

In January 2019, the Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project commented, “The organisations that we accompany continue to be concerned about [Mexican president] AMLO’s position on the rights of indigenous populations, given that his public discourse seems to respect their autonomy, but he continues to propose initiatives of megaprojects such as the Mayan Train or new mining investments.”

The Mayan Train (Tren Maya) refers to a megaproject that would link Mayan archaeological sites in five states (Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and the Yucatán) by rail. The multibillion-dollar project would involve the building of 1,500 kilometres of railroad track, with nearly one-third of it through tropical forests.

Now, IJG Global reports, “Mexico’s ministry of communications and transport (SCT) has awarded a 30-year contract to the state-owned Fonatur Tren Maya to build, operate and exploit the Maya Train.”

El Financerio explains, “Fonatur Tren Maya is a company created in August 2019 and with a majority state participation by sector in the Ministry of Tourism.”

Educa Oaxaca has now posted, “More than 190 civil groups, collectives and communities, as well as fifty academics and environmental defenders expressed their rejection of the continued construction of the Maya Train in the midst of the health crisis caused by Covid-19.”

Their post adds, “In a letter they also called on the government to respect the self-determination of the communities, since they consider that the consultation of indigenous peoples did not meet international criteria.”

Among the 190 groups that signed the letter of concern were: Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra y Agua Morelos, Puebla y Tlaxcala; Casa del Migrante Saltillo; Centro Diocesano para los Derechos Humanos “Fray Juan de Larios”, A.C.; Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (ProDESC); Familia Pasta de Conchos; Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña, Tlachinollan, A. C.; and Comité Cerezo.

Canadian interest in the megaproject

In January of this year, Milenio had an article with the headline, “Companies from Spain, Canada, Portugal, Brazil and China have shown interest in the project, assured the director of Fonatur [the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism], Rogelio Jiménez Pons.”

In February, EFE reported, “Jiménez Pons explained in late January the details of the tenders and indicated that there was interest from 85 companies. There were 65 nationals and 20 internationals from Spain, Canada, Portugal, Brazil and China.”

Milenio has also reported, “Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said that there are various Canadian companies interested in investing in the Maya Train.”

According to that article, those entities included: the Montreal-based manufacturer Bombardier Inc. and the Quebec City-based pension fund La Caisse dé depot et placement du Québec (la Caisse). EFE has also reported Bombardier’s interest in the project.

Last summer, the Toronto-based Canadian bank Scotiabank denied a media report that it had withdrawn from the project and stated, “[Scotiabank] carefully analyzes the opportunities in public and private projects that are presented exclusively according to business criteria. This process in the project in question continues its course.”

To read the full letter of concern from Mexican civil society organizations and environmental defenders, please click here.

In terms of a timeline, the International Railway Journal now reports, “The project is expected to be completed in 2022.”

Image from PorEsto!

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