[Admin: The Sexta Grietas Network circulated this statement and asked for signatures. We reproduce it below with the signatures obtained.]
Statement of Solidarity with the Struggle against the Maya Train, a Megaproject of Death
April 15, 2020
We salute the efforts of the Indigenous and Popular Council of Xpujil (CRIPX – Consejo Indígena y Popular de Xpujil) and congratulate them on their success in obtaining a halt on the construction of the train megaproject in the Campeche corridor. This is a great achievement, especially in these times when governments are taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to further their agendas, and are attacking resistances and rebellions in Mexico and other parts of the world. We know the struggle has only begun, and we support and encourage continuing efforts to halt construction of the whole train megaproject permanently. This is far from over, as the government is determined to enforce this megaproject, which will bring great benefits to the capitalists who run the country at great costs to human life and the environment.
We denounce the ongoing attempts to threaten, intimidate, and pressure those who are fighting to prevent the construction of the so-called “Maya Train” and, in particular, our brothers and sister members of the Indigenous and Popular Council of Xpujil, who have been risking their lives and livelihoods to fight this megaproject of death.
The so-called “Maya Train” project will transport 600,000 – 800,000 new tourists a year to the Yucatán Peninsula. In deceptive and authoritarian “consultations,” the government pretends to inform and consult with local populations about the effects of the project, claiming it is a “development” project that will bring benefits to the poor and indigenous people of the area: jobs, modern infrastructure, business opportunities.
In fact, the truth is just the opposite. Such were the conclusions of, among many, the National Council on Science and Technology, an independent federal body commissioned to advise the Mexican government on public policies related to science and technological development. This study, delivered to the government at the beginning of December but not released to the public until March (well after the consultation process), concluded that the train megaproject would have severe negative impacts, including:
- destruction of 10 national protected areas that provide environmental benefits such as recharging aquifers and carbon capture (that mitigate damage from global warming)
- irreversible negative impacts on the territory that will be appropriated for the project
- the violation of rights of 146,000 indigenous people living in the area
- jobs that would be temporary and precarious
- an increase in violence related to drug trade and human trafficking
The study was suppressed by the government until after the consultation process was complete so that people would not learn of the dangers of the train megaproject.
This study confirms what many others have argued and what we have known all along: this megaproject of death is a capitalist dream that will lead to dispossession, displacement, and deterioration of the lives of local people who live along the route: homes, farming communities, small commercial enterprises and businesses, including sustainable ecotourist enterprises. It will threaten the largest remaining rainforest in Mesoamerica, the Calakmul Reserve, considered to be second only to the Amazon in its production of oxygen, as well as the mangroves of Bacalar, one of the most significant areas of mangroves in the world (see the CONACYT report “Maya Territories in the Train’s Path: Current Situation and Foreseeable Risks” [Spanish]).
The project will benefit the engineering and construction corporations who will get fat contracts, as well as the hotel chains and international tourist corporations and rich entrepreneurs who have the funds to set up shop and who know whose palms to grease. It will benefit the government functionaries who will receive bribes and kickbacks from the capitalists. It will benefit the extractive industries, whose projects will inevitably follow in the wake of the train, once the area has been softened up to their invasion with transportation facilities, infrastructure, and the installation of military and paramilitary “security” forces to protect their investments, and once the vibrant opposition to megaprojects, always an obstacle to extractive capitalism, has been silenced.
We need only to look at the so-called Mayan Riviera, in northeastern Yucatan, to see the effects that massive tourist projects have on people and their environment. While the rich bathe in pristine swimming pools, lounge on the beach and in fancy bars enjoying exotic cocktails and gourmet meals, the poor who serve them earn miserable wages (many make the minimum wage of $7 a day) and tens of thousands of underemployed and unemployed ring the area in poor shanty towns that surround the tourist resorts. These servants include farmers who have been dispossessed or who can no longer survive on their lands, in many cases due to decline in available water. The abundance of retail outlets and restaurants who profit in these tourist areas are owned by the wealthy elite, often foreigners, who had the money to invest in the luxurious standards the tourists prefer—the streets of Cancun are lined with foreign chain stores. The beaches, once pristine and full of fish, are polluted. Hundreds of thousands of tons of garbage created by the tourists pollute the water, spill into the ocean and fester in overfilled landfill sites near the homes of the poor. Water, stolen from indigenous farmlands, is recklessly squandered. This is the pattern of “development” that can be seen in the fancy resort areas all over Mexico—a devastating and unsustainable tourist industry that is now collapsing in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic. The Mexican government reports that Cancún is abandoned: only 7% of its about 90,000 hotel rooms are occupied, while 60,000 workers have been laid off in the state of Quintana Roo, representing about 40% of the workforce (see Proceso March 2020 and INEGI Report 2016). The poor and underserved workers of the hotel zones, like the poor and underserved all over the world, will bear the brunt of the epidemic, while the capitalist overlords will find other ways to profit. In the midst of this crisis, the government continues to move the project forward, announcing on April 1 that it is reviewing proposals from 14 consortiums (owned by Carlos Slim, the richest man in Mexico and one the richest men in the world, and by Chinese multinationals) for constructing the first phase of the train, which it insists will begin April 30th and will cost the government between 12 and 22 billion Mexican pesos (600 million to over a billion USD).
We, the undersigned, denounce this project, and demand its immediate halt: for the benefit of the local population, for the campesinos, for Mother Earth, and for humanity itself. We stand with all people who are fighting to preserve sustainable livelihoods, and especially originary peoples who are fighting to preserve their history and identity and their ancestral lands. We must protect all that remains of these sacred environments and resources for future generations to have a chance to survive against the civilization of death.
Chiapas Support Committee, Oakland, California
Cassidy Regan, Mannahatta, Lenni Lenape territory
Silvia Federici, Brooklyn, NY
War Resisters League
Raices sin Fronteras, San Diego California
Dr. Carol J Manahan, California
Charlotte Saenz, Core Faculty, California Institute of Integral Studies
Rei Terada, Professor of Comparative Literature, UC Irvine
Stellan Vinthagen, Endowed Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA Donald Monty Neill, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Sallyann Stoddard, Northeastern USA
Bruce Fleischer, Boston Ma.
Alptekin Aydogan, USA
Joseph Bender, Living in Ramaytush territory, also known as San Francisco
Mary Landale, Massachusetts, USA
Patricia Sullivan, Washington State
Farah Khimji, New York City Kirsty Singer, University of California, Irvine , Gabriella Melis, Italy, Kristian Vasquez, Chumash territory, Carla Belinda Margarita Orendorff, Los Angeles, CA, US/Cochabamba, Bolivia, Hélène Miesseroff, French writer María Estela Barco Louis-Georges Schwartz, Athens, oh Chris Carlsson, Shaping San Francisco Alain Chaillat, France , Kate Keller, Montana John Wolverton, Missoula, Montana, USA Linda Quiquivix, Chumash Territory (Oxnard, California) Kirsty Singer University of California, Irvine Peter Rosset, Chiapas Hormigas Autonomas y Rebeldes, San Diego – Territorio Kumeeai LIES Journal Collective Willow Hill, United States Cindy Gao, New York City, NY Ellen Elster, Oslo, Norway Lauren Johnson, Canada Wesley Carrasco, ECLF-Los Angeles Matthew de la Torre Julio Rodriguez, Sylmar (community in Los Angeles), California Child Welfare Nepal Chairperson Ambazonia Prisoners of Conscience Support Network (APoCsnet) Global Solidarity Network Joris Leverin, Managing editor, ROAR Magazine Julia Thomas, Journalist Andrea Perez, Osceola Consulting, GIS Researcher Renee Delia Reyes NYC, NY Andrew J Padilla East Harlem (El Barrio), NYC Daisy Bugarin, Lenape Territory (NYC, NY) Tahesha Knapp-Christensen, Protect the Long Beach/LosCerritos Wetlands Anya Briy, NYC, NY Daniel Brown, Peckham, London, UK Chichihualli Lactation, Lactation Educator and Community Advocate Gema Limeta, Tongva territory ( Los Angeles, CA) Inmigrantes Unidos NC Alfonso Garcia Guerrero Kiana Martinez Janet Campos,LCSW-Licensed Clinical Social Worker Lauren Reese Aurialís Alvarez, Boston, MA Rosa Barajas, California Malú Huacuja del Toro Nueva York Semillas Collective New York City, Estados Unidos Alma Sánchez, Morelos Red de Rebeldía y Resistrenzas, Ciudad de Puebla, Puebla Movimiento de Mujeres de Kurdistán, America Latina,Kurdistán Cecilia Vázquez Ahumada, Puebla, México Eli García Padilla, Oaxaca María Matilde Salazar Rodriguez,Cd. de Chihuahua, Chih. México Jorge Emilio Villa del Ángel Name, Cdmx Pamela, CDMX Sergio Moreno, CDMX David lozano Tovar, CDMX Santiago López Martínez, CDMX Cynthia Chiang, Cdmx Stephania Sánchez, Estado de México Jorge Castillo Canizáles, CDMX Alondra Campos, Jalisco Mexico Luis González Lozano, San Luis Potosí Alina, CDMX Karla González Ramírez Montserrat Hernández, CDMX Patricia Ailyn Garrido, CDMX Samantha Sánchez, Edo. De México Sara Sánchez, San Luis Potosí Aranza Tinajero, CDMX Gala Alejandra García Ruiz, Cdmx Naayeli Ramírez Espinosa, Peninsula de Yucatan Huizache Badillo, CDMX Martin Mantxo, A Planeta (Euskal Herria/País Vasco) Agrupación por la memoria histórica Providencia Antofagasta, Antofagasta Chile Carmen Manuela Delcid, San Pedro Sula, Honduras Colectivo de Coordinación de Acciones Socio Ambientales (Colectivo CASA), Oruro-Bolivia David Pierre, Haiti Hermanas de la Misericordia, Hermanas CCASA, América Latina Martín López Gallegos, Profesor Adj. en la Facultad de Economía, UNAM La Casa del Centro, Gilberto y Patricia Z, Tijuana BC Mexico Kurt McLean, Occupied Kumeyaay/Kumiay lands of San Diego/Tijuana Red de resistencias y rebeldías en Tijuana Mathilde, Francia Diana Laura Corona Hernández, México Fátima Rubio Moreno, Lic. Turismo Internacional Brittney López Hampton Coleman Colectivo Acción Solidaria con México, Viena, Austria. Asociación medioambiental Colibrí ecosocial, CHILE Xilone Purepecha Nation/ White Mountain Apache, California US Rosángela Pérez Mendoza, Docente Tutora Investigadora, Lic. en Artes Visuales Rebelión, México Coordinadora de Pueblos y Organizaciones del Oriente del Estado de México en Defensa de la Tierra, el Agua y su Cultura (CPOOEM), México Alejandra Sánchez, Ciudadana Mexicana TONATIERRA (Phoenix, Arizona) Manuel May Castillo Dr., Universidad de Munich, Alemania Ianci Balam, Ejido Jacinto Pat Roberto Cuevas Ramon Aguilera, Puerto Morelos Stephanie Smiley, USA Enicia, San Miguel de Allende María salas, CdMx Adriana Martinez,Playa del carmen Asamblea Maseual Autonoma del Agua de Cuetzalan, Pueblo Originario Maseual de Cuetzalan Guardia Comunitaria Indigena de San Andres Tzicuilan Cuetzalan, Pueblo Originario Maseual de Cuetzalan Erwin Slim Torres, Fundador del Ordenamiento Territorial Integral de Cuetzalan. Asesor del movimiento Indígena en contra de los Proyectos de Muerte. Ivone Alatrist,HOUSTON TX CONRADO Alba Brunet arnoldo colibrí, el Chiapas Support Committee, territorio Ohlone Maria Antonieta Bocanegra Aguilar, Felipe Carillo Puerto Ines Duran Matute, México Hortencia Ramirez Campos, Amatlán de Quetzalcoatl, Morelos México Rocío Servin Jiménez, Universidad de Guanajuato, Guadalupe Meza Lavaniegos,Socio pedagoga en Guanajuato La Ezkina, Tijuana, BC Edgar Fernando Fernández Villa, Psicólogo educativo Ignacio Muñoz, Movimiento de Pobladorxs en Lucha (Chile) Red de Resistencia y Rebeldia en apoyo al CIG-CNI del Puerto de Veracruz, Puerto de Veracruz Montserrat Díaz Romero, Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia José Cándido Guzmán Sánchez, UABC, Estudiante a Licenciatura en Economía, Tijuana Centro de Investigación Escénica El Teatrito, Mérida Yucatán Mexicali Resiste, Mexicali Teresa González Molina, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Alicia Dorantes Camacho, Cuernavaca Morelos Alejandra Vargas, Colectivo Casa Creación,México Guillermo Villalobos Rojo, Frente Social de Trabajadores Independientes, mx Marcela Jiménez, Cancun Mexico Ass. Solidaria Cafè Rebeldía-Infoespai rebeldia, Barcelona, Catalunya MutVitz13 – Marsella, Francia Natanael Murillo Calvo, CDMX Matilde Ortuño Vilchis, Estado de México Rocío Servin Jiménez, Universidad de Guanajuato Espiral de solidaridad-semilla de resistencia, Grecia Asamblea Libertaria Autoorganizada Paliacate Zapatista, Grecia Espoir chiapas Comite de Solidaridad con los Pueblos Indigenas de las Americas (CSIA-Nitassinan), Paris, Francia Jazz Diaz,Merced (Central Valley) California Ian Murphy, University of San Francisco Eleanor Finley, UMass Amherst Anthropology Department Colectivo Transdisciplinario de Investigaciones Críticas, México Francisco De Parres Antropólogo / Fotógrafo East Coast Chiapas Solidarity Committee Karen Lopez Circulo de Promotoras de Salud Tradicional, California Elena Ortega Tiziana, Italy Berenice Perez Daniel Farber Autonomous Brown Beret, Sabrina Chapa, New York City, Lenapehoking Matt Yamashita, Sustainable Molokai, Hawaii Misael Calderon, Building Engineer WESPAC Foundation Westchester County, New York Sadie heald, Harrison, NY Mercy Verdugo, Laboratorio de Arte Atelier Douglass DeCandia Luis Tinoco Torrejon, Belgium Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ,) Westchester, Turtle Island, original territory of Lenni Lenape Peoples [Westchester County, New York, USA] Dr. Damaris Calderón Alcalán Directora Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina, (ELAM), Cuba Eagle and the Condor Liberation Front Tongva territories, Los Angeles, California Building Bridges Human Rights, Vancouver Collective Adriana Diego, Oxnard, CA Issa Estelle Occupied Kumeyaay, San Diego, California Ary Amaya Sarah Valdez, Tongva Teritory (Los Angeles) Théo Marcos, Francia colectivo Ramonara, Chipre Red Ya Basta, Alemania Mut-Vitz Colectivo, (Francia) Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition