Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Decree makes Tangolunda golf course in Huatulco a national park

Golfers have made their final birdies, pars and bogeys on the Tangolunda golf course in coastal Oaxaca.

A 110-hectare property in Huatulco that includes that golf course has been declared a national park by presidential decree.

The decree that turns the property into a national park was published five days after the concession granted to Grupo Salinas expired, according to the government. (lasparotasgolf.com)

Published in the government’s official gazette on Monday night, the decree officially creates the Tangolunda National Park.

The publication of the decree came five days after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told reporters that a concession issued to Grupo Salinas to operate the golf course had expired. He rejected a claim from company owner Ricardo Salinas that the concession had been extended until 2027.

“That’s not the case, the contract has already expired,” López Obrador said at his morning news conference.

He also said that the property “is in the middle of two natural protected reserves” and includes a “public beach.”

The new national park is located about six kilometers east of La Crucecita, the main town in the Bahías de Huatulco resort area.

According to López Obrador’s decree, the federal Environment Ministry, via the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas (Conanp), “must manage, preserve and restore the ecosystems … of the Tangolunda National Park” as well as ensure that the activities carried out within the park don’t violate environmental laws.

The only activities permitted within the park are the preservation and conservation of ecosystems; scientific research; environmental monitoring; environmental education; low-impact environmental tourism; reintroduction of native species; eradication or control of exotic and invasive species; and the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure.

Playing golf is a definite no-no, as are a range of other activities including fishing, agriculture, logging and mining.

Huatulco was developed as a “planned tourism project” by Fonatur, which leased the 110-hectare Tangolunda property to Grupo Salinas. (zonaturistica.com)

A concession to operate a golf course on the property was first issued to Grupo Salinas by the National Tourism Promotion Fund (Fonatur) in 2012. It reportedly expired in 2022.

Grupo Salinas — a conglomerate that includes TV Azteca, the retailer Elektra and other companies owned by Ricardo Salinas — has been accused of stealing large quantities of municipal water for use on the golf course.

López Obrador said that the leasing of the property to Grupo Salinas generated no benefits for Fonatur, the original developer of Huatulco as a “planned tourism project.”

“It was a bad public business,” said the president, who has established more than 40 new natural protected areas, or ANPs, since taking office in late 2018.

Salinas, Mexico’s third richest person, said on the X social media platform that he didn’t care what the government wanted to call the property, whether that be “restricted area, piece of the moon, disaster area [or] UFO landing platform.”

He also said that the government should hold a public vote in Huatulco “to see if the people agree with being left without the [golf] course.”

During his presidency — and even before he took office — López Obrador has held public “consultations” or referendums on a range of issues, including one that resulted in the cancellation of a brewery project in Baja California and another in which citizens were asked whether Mexico’s five most recent presidents should be investigated for crimes they might have committed in office.

With reports from La Jornada, Imer Noticias, Proceso and Milenio 

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