Tren Maya Construction Derailed by Additional Amparos
By KELIN DILLON
On Sunday, May 28, Mexico’s First District Court in Yucatán levied a new amparo on Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) controversial Tren Maya railway project, granting a definitive suspension on any tree felling or land clearance in all parts of the train’s sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 that have yet to receive environmental clearance from Mexico’s Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat).
According to the Mexican Center for Environmental Law, the railway megaproject has already received extensive environmental clearance between sections 3 and 5, but will now be prohibited from continuing clearance in unauthorized areas until it receives the proper permits from the Semarnat.
“The continued removal of forest vegetation is not allowed in areas that are outside the authorizations for change of land use in forest lands,” read the court’s ruling on the amparo request from the region’s indigenous, rural, urban and coastal communities.
This decision will purportedly protect local communities from being affected by the Tren Maya’s development without the government’s due diligence.
Likewise, the court clarified that provisional construction permits are not a sufficient replacement for permits that require technical studies, such as environmental-impact statements, as these would allow work to continue without properly weighing the possible repercussions it would have on the surrounding flora and fauna.
“In this sense, continuing with the activities of felling and clearing for the construction of the Tren Maya megaproject without having obtained the authorizations for change of land use can cause communities and organizations to suffer effects against their human right to a healthy environment that may be irreparable,” continued the First District Court in Yucatán’s resolution.
Considering that the federal government has previously ignored definitive suspensions issued by judges against the megaproject, particularly in the case of environmental damage, the resolution also requested continued diligence from the judiciary in order to prevent the government from once again circumventing established rulings on the Tren Maya’s construction.
However, López Obrador took to his daily morning press conference on Monday, May 29, to announce his intentions to defy the Tren Maya work suspensions, characterizing the decision from the Yucatán court as a “technical coup” against the executive branch.