Photo: Gobierno de México


While Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) controversial Tren Maya megaproject has been no stranger to judicial amparos and legal delays across the course of its multi-year construction, a Mérida judge’s recent amparo on the Yucatán Peninsula railroad will now see the development of the project’s Section 5 ground to a halt – if Mexico’s federal government chooses to respect the order, that is.

According to the judicial decision, any logging or land clearance across Section 5’s northern and southern tracks must be stopped to ensure “that the removal does not allow for the destruction of the flora of the land, in the areas that are outside the area in which the change of land use in forest lands was authorized.”

Despite the amparo, speleologist José Urbina told daily Mexican newspaper El Universal that Mexico’s National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (Fonatur) and the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena), who were put in charge the Tren Maya’s Section 5 construction by López Obrador, have continued felling trees and clearing forestland in direct opposition to the suspension.

In fact, the Sedena and Fonatur’s initial work on Section 5 began last year without the proper clearance on the construction’s environment impact – an issue that’s only been magnified in the months to follow as the project deviated from its originally planned straight path through the Yucatán Peninsula after it was set to disrupt the region’s underground rivers, cenotes and various natural flora and fauna.

According to Urbina, these deviations have caused even more of the area’s forest to be felled and destroyed than initially anticipated, prompting the government to alter the authorized use of the forestland this past Dec. 15 in spite of the changes not being legal under Article 97 of Mexico’s General Forest Development Law (LGDFS).

 “We hope that this time this definitive suspension will be respected, the importance of which is that it protects all the area’s jungle and trees that are intended to be felled, forced by the deviations that are intended to avoid the caverns, cenotes and the archaeological remains that are on the line,” said Urbina.

 “If the rule of law is respected, the works should have stopped, and the project should be canceled due to the impossibility of continuing works that started illegally and continue to be illegal,” added Urbina.

Now, with the suspension on Tren Maya’s Section 5 theoretically in full effect, it remains to be seen if the federal government continues to brazenly ignore the judicial amparo or if environmental rights groups like Sélvame del Tren will succeed in their intentions of stopping “the illegal work that affects the heritage of all Mexicans.”


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