A polling booth during Sunday's vote on the train project. A polling booth during Sunday's vote on the train project.

Maya Train vote gets solid 92% approval from indigenous communities

Construction expected to start in March or April

A vote on the Maya Train in the areas through which it will run passed overwhelmingly with over 92% of citizens voting in favor of the project on Sunday.

The vote came after President López Obrador announced in November that the train would only be built if it had the approval of local people.

It was held in five southeastern states where 92.3% voted in favor of the megaproject and 7.4% against. The first tenders will be announced in January and work will begin in March or April, said the National Tourism Promotion Fund (Fonatur), which is in charge of the 120-billion-peso (US $6.3-billion) project.

“We will begin the first tenders in the first week of January, in the areas where there are already tracks, and by the end of March or the beginning of April we’ll begin working on the project,” said Fonatur director Rogelio Jiménez Pons.

The rate of participation among the 1,078 indigenous communities invited to vote was 70%, according to Adelfo Regino Montes, head of the National Institute of Indigenous Communities (INPI).

In a press conference Regino said that INPI carried out 30 consultative assemblies with indigenous communities near the proposed route of the train in November and December.

The assemblies consulted 1,400 Maya, Ch’ol, Tzotzil and Tzeltal communities, providing information on the project in their native languages and seeking the opinions of thousands of indigenous authorities.

“There was a general consensus for the implementation of the Maya Train development project,” said Regino, adding that several committees were established in order to ensure compliance with the agreements made in the assemblies.

In his morning conference on Monday, President López Obrador said the results of the consultations will be published in detail on the internet and on social media.

Source: El Economista (sp)

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