Youth aligned with the Fridays for Future climate change movement held a protest against the Grand Island megaproject in Cancún on Friday.
The Grand Island resort is a 3,000-room hotel and convention center planned for the tourist zone near the Nichupté lagoon system.
Yesterday’s march against the development was the fourth organized by Fridays for Future members in Cancún since March.
But as they marched down Tulum avenue, the youths were met by opposition: over 1,000 workers and their families who gathered to show their support for the jobs the project is expected to create.
Upon arriving at the esplanade of the city’s municipal palace, the pro-development contingent countered the climate change protesters with signs and T-shirts reading, “Yes to work, yes to developing Cancún.”
With union leaders at the head of the demonstration, the pro-development crowd included students, women and workers escorted by a line of trucks sounding their horns in unison.
Meanwhile, the Fridays for Future protesters displayed signs reading, “The mangroves give us more than Grand Island,” “Just because they have permission doesn’t mean it’s OK,” “We must change the system, not the climate,” and “Your mistakes are my future,” among others.
Protester Ana Fernanda claimed that documentation shows the company behind the project was fined for illegal deforestation in the mangrove forests.
She also cited local hotel owners who have said the megaproject will put a strain on the water supply and other public services in the area, and make traffic worse.
“People go out and protest honestly for what they believe in and love, but how many hotels are there in Cancún? They’re always expanding and there’s never enough work. They must study the way these projects affect quality of life beyond the issue of employment,” she said.
Another member of the protest felt intimidated by the pro-development march.
“It was overwhelming to see so many people supporting [the project], while we are against it; but even still, we won’t give up because this is something that . . . can affect everyone in the world, not just people from Cancún.”
Plans to build Grand Island were welcomed last month by President López Obrador and Tourism Secretary Miguel Torruco. The latter described it as one of the biggest hotel investments in the past 30 years.
The president predicted it would give a boost to the economy of the state of Quintana Roo. The developer said it would create 12,000 jobs.
The Fridays for Future protesters are part of an international movement of students who are demanding action on climate change. It was founded by Swedish student Greta Thunberg.
Sources: El Universal (sp)