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The Ichkabal archaeological site in Quintana Roo. The Ichkabal archaeological site in Quintana Roo.

Communal landowners want Quintana Roo archaeological site opened

They also want to retain ownership of the land and be partners in the development

Communal landowners in Quintana Roo will make a direct appeal to President López Obrador to open an archeological site in the south of the state.

Luis Chimal Balam, head of the Bacalar ejido, or community land, said the landowners haven’t been able to reach an agreement with either the state government or the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) to have Ichkabal opened to the public.

The request to the president will be made during his scheduled visit to state capital Chetumal on February 24, he said.

In addition to asking for his intervention to open the Mayan site, the landowners, or ejidatarios, will also ask López Obrador and the federal government to stop the expropriation of their land.

Chimal Balam said that INAH has proposed paying 400,000 pesos (US $21,000) for each of the 121 hectares covered by Ichkabal and the surrounding area that needs to be developed to access the site.

But the 165 ejidatarios have collectively decided that they don’t want to give up ownership of the land. Instead, they wish to be partners in the development of the archaeological site and direct beneficiaries of the tourism it attracts.

However, the former head of INAH in Quintana Roo ruled out that possibility in December.

“Current INAH regulations do not provide for any scheme of association such as the one ejidatarios are asking for . . . legally it’s not viable,” Adriana Velázquez Morlet said.

The Quintana Roo government has said that the recovery of Ichkabal could attract investment in hotels and real estate to the tune of US $1 billion over the next 15 years.

Located around 60 kilometers west of Laguna de Bacalar, Ichkabal is one of the most important Mayan cities of the pre-classical era. Some of its structures are taller than the pyramids at Chichén Itzá in Yucatán.

The state secretary of tourism believes that the opening of Ichkabal will be a major economic, social and tourism boost for the entire southern region of Quintana Roo.

Source: El Economista (sp) 

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