PBI-Mexico accompanies defenders opposed to Mayan Train project with Canadian manufacturing, oil and gas connections

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo from Yucatan Times.

Reuters has reported: “A consortium led by a unit of [Montreal-based] Bombardier Inc. won a bid for the rolling stock and rail systems for Mexico’s flagship ‘Mayan Train’ infrastructure project, the government said on Wednesday [May 26, 2021].”

The article continues: “The project represents an investment of ($1.84 billion) and includes the design, manufacture, delivery, testing and commissioning of 42 trains. …The first tests of the equipment for the project will be carried out by 2023.”

While the 1,470 kilometre long Mayan Train rail line has been presented as a tourist project, others contend it is primarily about shipping freight.

El Pais has reported: “It is estimated that 70% of the revenues will result from the transport of cargo, largely from fuels (to serve the six gas pipelines in the southeast of the country) and products of the region’s thriving agribusiness, such as soybeans or pork.”

The Mexico City-based Project on Organizing, Development, Education and Research (PODER) has also published The train of the elites that lists the companies and energy projects that would benefit from this megaproject.

This report highlights (on page 34): “The main source of income for the Mayan Train will be the transportation of fuels, it seems clear that the Mayan Train will function as a platform infrastructure for the energy sector.”

It then notes: “If this is consolidated, the construction of the train will favor extractive energy projects in the region that have led to environmental and social conflicts and are largely owned by companies with Spanish, Canadian and US capital.”

The chart below from the PODER report notes Vancouver-based Renaissance Oil Corp. and the Regina-based provincial Crown corporation Sask Energy Incorporated.

Earlier this year, Alstom, which is based in Levallois-Perret, France, purchased Bombardier Transportation and announced the headquarters of Alstom of the Americas will be based in Montréal, Quebec.

It is not clear if any other Canadian companies are involved in this megaproject, but EFE and Milenio have previously reported that several had expressed interest in it. Those reports note the Quebec City-based pension fund La Caisse dé depot et placement du Québec and the Toronto-based Canadian bank Scotiabank.

The Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project has commented: “The organizations that we accompany continue to be concerned about [Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador’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.”

Many organizations have signed this open letter that states the consultation of Indigenous peoples on this megaproject did not meet international standards.

Among the groups that signed that letter are PBI-Mexico accompanied 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.

Six United Nations Special Rapporteurs, including David R. Boyd from Canada, have previously noted in this letter about the Mayan Train: “Information has been received … on attacks on human rights defenders who have filed legal action, through criminalization, fingering and defamation, denial of their indigenous identity and disqualification from their work. which would have resulted in direct aggression and a growing state of fear of possible acts of violence against them and judicial persecution.”

We continue to follow this.

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