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The Uncertainty of Mayan Train

The legal battle of indigenous peoples against the Mayan Train continues. The temporary suspension was canceled and the construction of the work is still going on. Indigenous peoples denounce that the consultation made by Andrés M. López Obrador’s administration was fraudulent, while the Government of Mexico offers more consultation processes.

By José Díaz

Servindi, February 4th, 2020.- Since he began his electoral campaign in 2018, one of the most problematic axes of Andrés M. López Obrador's political plan, was the construction of the Mayan Train, a mega-transport project that would cross the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to the environmental observations generated by the deforestation that the project would entail, the route would also enter the indigenous space of multiple communities in southern Mexico.

After he was elected president, the works continued and the resistance of the Mexican indigenous peoples increased. Even the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) expressed its rejection of the Mayan Train. However, a new chapter in this story began to be written last week when a provincial judge temporarily suspended the project due to irregularities in the prior consultation process.

Specifically, it is the indigenous communities Calakmul and Xpujil, in the state of Campeche, who presented a legal against the prior consultation made by the Government of Mexico, which they accuse of being fraudulent. Likewise, the Mexican native peoples demand the definitive cancellation of the project in other instances.

So far, the start of construction for sections 1 and 2 of the Mayan Train is scheduled for April 30th. The entire route would cross indigenous territory in the states of Campeche, Yucatán, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Chiapas. This project has been the main obstacle in the relations between the López Obrador’s administration and the Mexican indigenous peoples.

Work in progress

Despite the legal battle undertaken by indigenous peoples, this week a federal judge ruled out the temporary suspension to the construction of the Mayan Train. Hence, the steps to carry out the project are resumed. However, this Thursday, February 6th, there will be a judicial hearing where the legality of the consultation process to the construction will be discussed.

The problems between López Obrador's administration and the native peoples continue. The Mexican president himself declared in November 2019 that the project would not be carried out without a social license. In view of this, the head of the National Fund for Tourism Promotion (Fonatur), Rogelio Jiménez, has announced a new prior consultation.

“If people say‘let’s go ’, let's go; and if people say ‘no’, we are not going, but let the people decide, not the vested interest groups created that are only seeing their benefit,” said López Obrador in November of last year.

The tension between the Mexican president’s administration and the indigenous peoples of the south has been increasing. Imprisoned by his own words, López Obrador must find a way to emerge unscathed from a battle with the grassroots to whom he owes his own political success. Will he succeed?

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