By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
It pretty much was to be expected:
First, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) endowed the nation’s military with the gift of nonaccountability, meaning that it doesn’t have to report to anyone what it is doing or how much it is spending doing it.
Then, he placed the construction and administration of his highly controversial Tren Maya tourist train in the hands of the Defense Secretariat (Sedena).
And, suddenly, hocus-pocus, abracadabra, all those legal and environmental blockades that had been slowing the train’s progression suddenly disappeared.
Oh, but the magic continues…
At the bequest of AMLO, the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (Fonatur) presented its “budget” proposal to the Finance Secretariat (Hacienda) last week, along with an extensive 32-million-peso analysis of its pros and cons as determined by the private consultancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
But, lo and behold, that report somehow was “transformed” between its presentation to Fonatur and its presentation to Hacienda, vanishing all that cumbersome data that was critical of the president’s pet megaproject.
In other words, Fonatur “edited” the original report, eliminating information about construction risks, environmental concerns and legal challenges, both potential and currently-existing.
Among the data that Fonatur decided to “make disappear” was a recommendation advising against the construction of the train’s Section 7, or Selva 2, due to its technical, social and geographic difficulties.
Nor did the culled report include the hundreds of warnings by environmentalists — both national and foreign — that the train could destroy over half of the Yucatan’s fragile ecosystem, overtax the region’s already-limited clean water supplies and produce pollution.
The censured report did not include the original’s report warning that the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) has stated that it might not be able to provide adequate energy along parts of the train’s route.
And the report that was presented to Hacienda also redacted the fact that much of the construction of the new tourist train would be done by the same companies that built the now-infamous Line 12 of Mexico City’s Metro system, which collapsed on May 3, leaving at least 26 people dead.
But, hey, all magic includes a little slight of hand, right?
So welcome to the magical mystery tour of the military’s new tourist train project.