The “national security” declaration for the Maya Train favors the violation of human rights

The “national security” declaration for the Maya Train [1] “has the potential to allow that human rights abuses” are maintained, and “also undermines the purpose of inclusive and sustainable social and economic development,” said the chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

Tren Maya, A “National Security Project.” Photo: Twitter @TabascoJavier

By: Gloria Leticia Díaz

Mexico City (apro)

Independent experts from nine special rapporteurships and the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, warned of “threats and attacks” against human rights and environmental defenders, given the declaration of a “national security project” that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador awarded to the Maya Train, as well as the participation of the Mexican Army in the construction of one thousand 500 kilometers in the Yucatan Peninsula.

In a statement dated in Geneva, Switzerland, the experts expressed concern about the danger that the construction of the megaproject will cause to the “rights of indigenous peoples and other communities, to land and natural resources, cultural rights and the right to a healthy and sustainable environment.”

For Fernanda Hopenhaym, chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, the declaration of national security “not only has the potential to allow human rights abuses to remain unaddressed, but also undermines the project’s purpose of bringing inclusive and sustainable social and economic development to the five Mexican states involved.”

The expert considered that “the increasing involvement of the army in the construction and management of the project also raises great concern.”

Concerned about “the lack of due diligence on human rights,” for the experts “relevant companies and investors domiciled in Spain, the United States and China cannot turn a blind eye to the serious human rights problems related to the Maya Train project,” estimated to cost 20 billion dollars.

The specialists pointed out that the government “must take additional measures to guarantee respect for human rights and the environment” and rejected that the national security status “does not allow Mexico to evade its international obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of the people affected by this megaproject and to protect the environment in accordance with international standards.”

They called on the government to “ensure meaningful participation of affected communities and transparency in human rights and environmental impact assessments prior to any future decisions related to the project, as key elements to identify, prevent and address any other negative impacts.”

They added that the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples must be respected “and the actual and potential cumulative impacts of projects must be assessed in a transparent manner, in accordance with international human rights and environmental standards.”

They urged companies and investors to “take appropriate action and exert their influence to ensure that human rights due diligence processes are conducted in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. “

The position was signed by the other members of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Pichamon Yeophantong, Eizbieta Karska, Robert McCorquodale and Damilola Olawuyi.

Likewise, the Special Rapporteurs on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Francisco Cali Tzay; on the Right to Development, Saad Alfarargi; on the Field of Cultural Rights, Alexandra Xanthaki; on the Right to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule; on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Margaret Satterthwalte; on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor; on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Irene Khan; on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Ashwini K.P.; and on Human Rights and the Environment, David R. Boyd.


[1] Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), President of Mexico, declared the Maya Train a National Security Project on July 25, 2022 in his morning press conference: Consequently, Mexican courts cannot entertain lawsuits filed to stop, temporarily or permanently, the lack of indigenous consultation.

Originally Published in Spanish by Proceso, Wednesday, December 7, 2022, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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