PBI-Mexico accompanies human rights organizations opposed to the Mayan Train megaproject

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: Indigenous protest in Chiapas. The banner says: “Megaprojects bring death. Out with the neoliberal projects. No to the Mayan train.”

On January 28, Mongabay reported: “The Tren Maya line is supposed to run 1,525 kilometers (948 miles) across Quintana Roo, Yucatán, Tabasco, Campeche and Chiapas, states with large Indigenous populations and high rates of biodiversity.”

It adds the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA) is “responsible for an injunction alleging that officials failed to properly consult Indigenous communities before starting construction” and highlights that the failure to consult is “one of the most common claims against the Tren Maya project to date.”

Overall: “Twenty-five injunctions have been filed so far against different sections of the project by 327 plaintiffs… Many of the injunctions, aiming to pause or permanently stop the project, focus on deforestation and the loss of local ecosystems in and around protected areas… Others allege the government is committing human rights violations by displacing hundreds of residents living in the path of the train.”

CEMDA has also previously stated: “Since this defense process began, those involved, both in individual cases and collectively, have been targets of attacks, threats, delegitimization and criminalization for the mere fact of opposing this project.”

Ominously, the article also notes: “In late 2021, the Mexican government made a controversial announcement that many of the country’s major infrastructure projects, most notably the Tren Maya [Mayan Train] project being built across the Yucatán Peninsula, were now a matter of ‘national security’.”

Vancouver-based Renaissance Oil Corp., Regina-based Sask Energy

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.

Their 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 Regina-based provincial Crown corporation Sask Energy Incorporated.

Quebec City-based Caisse de Dépôt

In July 2019, Milenio also reported: “Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said there are several Canadian companies interested in investing in the Mayan Train. … As for pension funds, Ebrard mentioned La Caisse dé depot a Quebec company that currently has an investment in Mexico of two billion dollars.”

The PODER report further explains (on page 19): “In recent years [Empresas ICA S.A.B. de C.V.] has gone through a strong financial crisis that has led it to accept foreign capital, as happened in 2015 with the signing of an association agreement with Canadian fund manager Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec (“CDPQ”). The agreement establishes the formation of a business which initially involves four highway concessions between which is the Mayab Consortium, S.A. of C.V. (“Mayab”), which has the concession of the Mayab highway and through which the Mayan Train track.”

Montreal-based Bombardier Inc.

And 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].”

Toronto-based Scotiabank

The Toronto-based Scotiabank has also been linked to the megaproject when it denied a media report that it had withdrawn from it, stating: “[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.”

Other Canadian companies?

In February 2020, EFE reported: “The director of the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (Fonatur), Rogelio Jiménez Pons, explained at the end of January the details of the tenders and indicated that there was interest from 85 companies. There were 65 national and 20 international from Spain, Canada, Portugal, Brazil and China.”

PBI accompaniment

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 the Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra y Agua Morelos, Puebla y Tlaxcala; Centro Diocesano para los Derechos Humanos “Fray Juan de Larios”, A.C.; Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (ProDESC); and Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña, Tlachinollan, A. C.

We continue to follow this.

Mayan Train route.

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