AMLO Orders Land Expropriations for Tren Maya Railway

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Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) said Friday, April 29, that he has ordered the expropriation of all private land that crosses the Tren Maya tourist train route, property which he said is currently is in the hands of real estate agents who “are only out to make a profit.”

Speaking during his daily morning conference, this time from the Yucatan Peninsula city of Isla Mujeres in Quintana Roo before heading out to inspect the train’s progress, AMLO said that the owners of the land “will be compensated” financially based on “appraisals made by the federal government.”

“These landowners knew that the train was going to pass through the land and they began to monopolize it, speculating,” AMLO said, adding that the real estate owners had previously rejected the offers made by his administration to purchase the land based on those government appraisals.

“I have already given instructions that, where there are these abuses (refusals to sell), the expropriation should be enforced for public use (under a Mexican eminent domain policy), and that compensation should be paid at the appraised commercial price, no more, because these real estate agents are trying to take advantage and are used to stealing.”

López Obrador also said that properties surrounding Mérida, Yucatán, will be expropriated because, after strong protests by locals, the government has decided not to run the train through that city.

He likewise said “neither the exploitative real estate companies, nor legal injunctions presented by environmentalists” were going to block the train’s progress.

AMLO said that he hopes that the courts will resolve any legal challenges “as soon as possible,” since the goal of his administration is to complete the 1,500-kilometer railway by December 2023.

Referring to a recent court order to halt Tren Maya construction in Section 5 of the railway, which would link Tulum and Playa del Carmen, because of the irreparable damage it would do to the region’s natural underground waterways, AMLO said that the court’s decision was based on economic interests and not ecology.

Despite the April 18 court order to halt construction immediately along that part of the route, AMLO said that “we are moving forward and we are going to continue to do so.”

And while environmentalists have warned that Section 5 would destroy the local network of cenotes, López Obrador said that there will be no ecological damage to the region.

Notwithstanding, AMLO admitted that at least 750 hectares of jungle will be felled to make way for the railway.

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