The Maya Train project will only go ahead with the support of the people, President López Obrador declared on Saturday.
During an address at an event in Felipe Carillo Puerto, Quintana Roo, López Obrador asked the chief of the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples, Adelfo Regino, to consult with the residents of all communities along the route of the new railroad before the project is put out to tender in December.
A nationwide consultation, held just before the government took office last December, found 89.9% support for its construction.
The president said he didn’t want to start building the railroad, which will run through five states in southeast Mexico, if opposition meant that it couldn’t be completed.
“. . . If that’s the way it’s going to be, I’d be better off not starting it because I’m not going to leave an incomplete project,” López Obrador said.
“. . . If the people say go ahead, we’ll go ahead. If the people say no, we won’t . . . they will decide,” he added.
After an event in Temozón, Yucatán, earlier on Saturday, López Obrador told reporters that undertaking the Maya Train project is “extremely important for the southeast” because it will generate jobs and stimulate development.
“. . . Never in history has such an investment been carried out. In Yucatán alone, 20 billion pesos will be allocated [to the project],” he said.
In Yucatán and at a later event in Calakmul, Campeche, the president asserted that construction of the railroad won’t have a negative impact on the environment or the region’s archaeological sites because it will make use of a right of way obtained decades ago for the southeast railway.
“. . . It’s a project for the benefit of the people. We will be incapable of harming the environment and the cultural wealth of our people; have confidence that it will be for the benefit of the people,” López Obrador said in Campeche.
“. . . I don’t want to take a single step if I don’t have the support of the people . . . I’m not going to leave anything half-finished. I want to finish everything . . .” he added.
The Maya Train is one of three major infrastructure projects the government plans to build in the southeast of Mexico, all of which face opposition on environmental grounds.
Experts have warned that construction of the railroad poses risks to underground water networks on the Yucatán peninsula and the long-term survival of the jaguar, while there are also concerns about the impact that the Isthmus of Tehuantepec trade corridor will have on the environment.
The government itself has conceded that construction of a new oil refinery on the Gulf of Mexico coast in Tabasco will affect the quality of air and water in the area and have an impact on local wildlife but says the project remains viable because the negative effects “will be controlled, mitigated or compensated.”
Source: El Universal (sp)