Efforts by environmental activists — including 113 children — failed to stop the clearing of some 40 hectares of mangrove forest in Cancún last weekend.
Heavy machinery went to work on the controversial Malecón Tajamar project at 2:00am Saturday and finished at dawn, all under the watchful eye of 130 state and municipal police officers.
“It’s not only the mangroves, there were thousands of animals living there,” local activist Aracely Domínguez told VICE News. “Most of them are now dead, and the ones who managed to survive the attack are now without food, water or even a place to live.”
The commercial and residential project is being developed by Fonatur, the federal tourism promotion fund, and will include 50,000 square meters of office and commercial space, condominiums and 3,600 homes.
The removal of mangrove forests is prohibited under federal law, but the Malecón Tajamar was approved before that law went into effect.
Last September, a court ordered a halt to the project after a group of 113 children filed for an injunction on the grounds that the environmental damage it would inflict would violate their right to a healthy environment.
But the judge also ordered the plaintiffs to pay 21 million (US $1.2 million) as compensation to third-party investors. The project resumed after no payment was made and the injunction became void.
“The right of children to a healthy environment costs 20 million pesos,” Domínguez said of the ruling.
Greenpeace spokesman Miguel Rivas said the next challenge is to ensure the development doesn’t proceed so the area can regenerate.
A Cancún judge yesterday ordered another injunction against activity on the site until the remaining animals can be removed.