A family that owns land on the route of the Mexico City-Toluca intercity passenger train has obtained court orders from two judges in recent weeks that are causing further delays to the construction of the project and could even place its future at risk.
Members of the Negrete Gómez family — owners of 1,111 square meters of land in the Mexico City borough of Cuajimalpa —launched legal action against the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT) after it informed them in January that it intended to take possession of the property.
In total, the family sought 10 amparos, or injunctions, in an attempt to stop what it regards as an illegal land invasion.
On February 13, district court Judge Fernando Silva García made the most conclusive ruling to date in the case, granting a “definitive suspension” to Perla Negrete Gómez that prevents authorities from seizing the land for the purpose of the construction of the rail line.
Administrative court Judge Martín Santos also granted similar suspensions to other members of the same family.
According to the SCT, the land is needed for the widening of the Mexico City-Toluca highway and is within a right-of-way obtained by the federal government through two decrees signed in 1993.
The secretariat asserts that when the land was expropriated for the road’s construction, compensation was paid to the landowners.
But the Negrete Gómez family claim that the SCT has not provided any proof that the decrees exist and also argue that the government of then-president Carlos Salinas de Gortari did not pay any compensation.
The family and other local ejido (communal) landowners also say that the real intention of the land seizure is to make way for the interurban railway.
While tracks have already been laid on 18 kilometers of line in México state, most of the columns and beams that will support the track in the Mexico City stretch have still not been built.
In court, the SCT agency responsible for the project asserted that the Negrete family doesn’t have a valid title for the property as they have only presented a certificate of ownership issued by the president of the ejido commission.
While the majority of the 10 judges that presided over the injunction hearings denied the suspensions sought by the family, the February 13 ruling will — at least in theory — prevent the SCT from touching the land for several weeks while a revision of the decision takes place.
However, sisters Margarita and Gabriela Negrete, who are also joint owners of the property, claim that the SCT has already violated the conditions of two definitive suspensions granted and also say that it has sent personnel from the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) to intimidate them.
“They are making a mockery of the court order . . . and the only thing we did was say to them ‘look, here we have the suspension.’ And from then on, they started to send these peopl e. . .” Gabriela Negrete told the newspaper Reforma.
“It pains us because we are the owners here and it is our land. So what are they doing to our rights?” she added.
Gabriela also said that all of the Negrete Gómez sisters have been summoned by the PGR to make statements in relation to the matter. However, she suspects that the agency has a more sinister motive.
“They [PGR staff] make appointments with us as witnesses, but we’re not stupid. They do it to pressure us. We know that when we’re there, if they want to, they’ll change our legal status,” Negrete said.
The 57-kilometer-long track between Toluca and Mexico City has faced several delays but the federal government last month rejected an assertion that it is behind schedule and the SCT estimated that it will open at the start of next year.