Through leaked documents from Mexico’s Ministry of National Defense, the military are showing the government of a high risk of collapse in 2020 for part of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s signature project, the Maya train. Similar warnings by environmentalists had been brushed aside by the President in the past.
The information was first reported by Animal Policy about Department of National Defense (Sedena) documents stolen by the hacktivist group Guacamaya.
A geological analysis broadcast in Mexico’s National Fund for Tourism Development (Fonatur) in April 2020 reportedly warned of a track that would connect tourist hotspots Cancún and Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Continue reading: Mexico’s Mayan train: A look at Amlo’s most controversial development project
In addition, a study conducted by Sedena-based military engineers described the entire northern portion of segment five – whose construction responsibility to Sedena is “severe” – as being at “severe” risk of collapse.
The Controversial Range of the Trail
The fifth segment of the Mayan train was founded by environmental activists who amid controversy and criticism the infrastructure project is causing damage to the region’s ecosystem and the subterranean lakes or “cenotes” upon which the railroad tracks be built .
Outrage peaked in January this year when Fonat announced changes to Segment Five’s route, scrapping the original plan to build the rail line along the existing highway and opting to cut a path through the region’s jungle.
The change to the original route along the highway, which had already resulted in the uplifting of 22,000 trees, came after hotel associations in the area argued that construction along the highway would impede access to their luxury resorts.
After the bill change, environmentalists filed a lawsuit against the Maya train, and a southeastern Yucatan district judge ruled in April to halt construction of segment five.
Mexico has already invested over US$4.5 billion in the Maya train project and estimates of its total cost could reach US$20 billion.
Signature development project by President López Obrador
At a news conference in July, President López Obrador condemned the decision to shut down his administration’s signature development project and accused the United States government of funding the activists behind the lawsuit.
“They’re from Mexico City and other parts of the country, these United States government-funded pseudo-environmental parts; They are the ones who are promoting this one line,” the President said, providing no evidence in his speech.
However, the recently leaked military reports confirm that the environmentalists’ arguments dismissed by Mr López Obrador were well founded.
Despite the injunctions, construction resumed on the fifth segment of the train.
In August, a federal judge dismissed lawsuits halting construction of the southern section of Segment 5, citing that the government had declared the Zug Maya project a national security issue and shielded them from interference that posed a risk to the could represent completion.
In September, a district judge also overturned the lawsuit that stayed construction on the northern portion of Segment 5, even though construction had resumed on that segment a month before the ruling.
By June of this year, the construction of the Mayan train was 40% off, according to Fonatur, Fernando Vázquez, in an interview with the news agency. El País.
Despite the many obstacles and setbacks, Mr. Lopez Obrador has insisted the train be completed by December 2023, exactly a year before the end of his term.
For 2023, the Treasury and Public Fund has announced a $7.2 billion increase to Fonatur, the department responsible for the Mayan train. With 92% of resources dedicated to the train, the budget for the controversial development project will increase by 118%.