Day 6: Candelaria, Campeche: The Maya Train devastates the Candelaria River

On day 6 of the El Sur Resiste Caravan, we arrived in the town of Candelaria, Campeche, one of the communities where the Maya Train project will pass and have a station; and where construction of new tracks is already underway.

This is how it is seen on the main street: red steel beams cover almost the entire street while the houses of people who inhabit this municipality, look small next to the monstrous death project.

The day begins with a welcome ritual, where Bety Cariño is remembered, and in which Mother Earth is thanked for accompanying us. At the same time, strength is asked to continue with the defense of life in a country where death caused by capitalism is imposed through the power of bad governments.

The girls and boys who are part of the caravan light the fire of the ritual, today we also celebrate their resistance, and we remember that the struggle is also for them to have a future on this planet.

Photography: David Munoz.

The day continues listening to the testimonies of inhabitants of La Candelaria, who explain the effects that the construction of the so-called Maya Train has generated in their community among which are:

Forced evictions: at least 300 houses have been evicted since the project was announced in this community; many of the families who do not want to sell their homes were harassed and pressured to accept monetary compensation.

Stomach and respiratory diseases: member of the community talk about an increase in illnesses of this sort since the start of the train’s construction, which they attribute to a worse quality of water, and constantly breathing materials and substances used in the construction. In fact, it is easy to notice how a white layer of dust that quickly sticks to clothing and body covers the entire enclosure due to its proximity to the construction.

Community division: the project has caused more divisions in La Candelaria between people who support the project because of the false economic benefits that the government of Mexico has announced, and people who oppose its construction because of the environmental and social destruction it will bring.

Loss of water bodies: among the most serious effects of the project is the filling of a part of the river with clean water that crosses the community. The community also mentions that wetlands within the community have also been filled in in order to continue with the construction of the death train.

Photo: David Munoz.

After listening to the word of the compañeras and compañeros of Candelaria, and of other compañeros/as of communities that are part of the caravan, we went out to take the streets and shout together, This Train is not Maya, this train is military!

We walk the streets, some people in the community are uncomfortable with our presence, “We want progress,” shout some, the division that the speech of the president and his institutions such as FONATUR has generated are palpable in this community.

Almost at the end of the march, we reach the river, on the left side it looks wide and imposing, it seems to have no end and is surrounded by trees and nature; on the right side it has been covered by gravel and earth, only 10 meters have been left so that the water can continue to circulate; There are no trees anymore, just piles of dirt and a yellow bulldozer pushing dirt nonstop.

A colleague from the community takes the megaphone and asks us to observe and document the destruction of the river. The death brought by the so-called Maya Train is increasingly notorious in all the places where its construction continues despite multiple protections that have been ignored, thus violating the constitution of the country and the laws that the bad government requires the people to respect, but not the companies.

The compañero also mentions that the work related to the river was never consulted with the community, and the Environmental Impact Statement simply does not exist. A violation of the right to information, consultation of indigenous peoples, and Mexican laws.

After the march, the Caravan leaves for Valladolid; we follow the death route of the Train with the clear objective of making visible the destruction it already generates, but also to give voice to the resistance of people in communities like Candelaria who refuse to be silenced, and who continue to fight to defend life.

Originally Published in Spanish by El Sur Resiste, Monday, May 1, 2023, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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