A temporary halt to the construction of a US $95.6-million hotel in Cancún has become permanent following a judge’s decision this week.
A judge ordered that there must be no construction within 100 meters of any mangroves or coastal wetlands, a ruling that a lawyer says puts an end to the 530-room Hotel Riviera Cancún.
“Basically, they can’t develop anything,” said Francisco Villarreal Escobedo, who had sought to stop the the Spanish hotel chain Riu Hotels & Resorts from proceeding with the project.
He said the entire piece of land on which the hotel was to be built, located at kilometer 17 in the Cancún hotel zone, is affected by the ruling.
To one side, and just 14 meters away, are the mangroves of the Nichupté protected area.
The hotel is the second Cancún development to be stopped in the past three weeks due to concerns over the depletion of mangrove forests. The Malecón Tajamar project was halted by a court ruling in early February.
“Let’s preserve our natural resources, which are so fragile that we have an obligation to take care of them,” wrote Villarreal Escobedo in a comment on Facebook.
For the president of the Riu hotel chain, the issue isn’t about mangroves but political influence.
Luis Riu said in a recent interview that the incident was “a very bizarre, Mexican story” that began with the owner of a neighboring hotel.
“The owner of the hotel next door wanted to buy the land, and it did not sit well with him that we bought it in the end. He is a very powerful man and in Mexico the powerful are very powerful; he knows everyone: the politicians, the governors, everyone.
“He did’t like it when we bought [the land] and he set in motion the machinery to hassle us.”