AMLO Says Tren Maya Construction without Permit Is ‘Legal’

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Despite the fact that yet another federal judge on Monday, May 2, ordered the stoppage of all construction on Section 5 of the Mexican president’s controversial Tren Maya railway project because of its  endangerment of the fragile cenote underwater riverways in that region, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) on Tuesday, May 3, said that he intended to proceed full speed ahead with the project, with or without environmental permits.

In response to the judge’s order to halt the project until it has the proper environmental paperwork, López Obrador in his Tuesday morning press conference said that his self-granted “presidential decree” allows the train to continue being built without any environmental impact statement (MIA).

AMLO said that the decree “is legal” and had been validated by the judicial authority of Mexico’s Supreme Court (SCJN).

“I signed the decree because we have to move forward and what (the opponents to the project) want is for us not to do anything,” he said.

“But I’m not going to just stand idly by and suck my thumb. If I had not issued the decree, they would have been able to stop us completely.”

The president went on to justify his decision by saying that if had allowed the project to have been slowed by legal injunctions and judicial orders, it would have cost taxpayers a lot more.

“We are talking about the people’s money,” he said. “I have to take care of it, because that’s why the people chose me, to defend their interests.”

Likewise, López Obrador said that even though the government did not obtain the necessary MIAs for the railway’s construction, he and his administration are “fighting for nature,” by protecting the environment.

He added that the “so-called environmentalists” who are trying to stop the train’s progress are only interested in making money in the region.

The contested Section 5 of the Tren Maya would link Cancun to Tulum, in the Yucatan Peninsula state of Quintana Roo, which AMLO said is “where the money is.”

And while opponents may try to stop the train, which environmentalists have warned would wipe out more than half of the indigenous flora and fauna in the peninsula, AMLO said Tuesday that they could protest all they want, but “we are not going to take one step backwards.”

On Monday, Mexican Secretary of the Environment María Luisa Albores confirmed that the presidential decree has allowed the work to continue, but added that environmental studies and permits are being obtained.




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