Although the area in and around Tulum National Park (PNT) has been an area protected by presidential decree since 1981 and construction is prohibited, a mega-mansion has been built next to the park’s walls in the last six months.
This despite complaints lodged with government agencies, including the environmental protection agency Profepa, dating back to November 2019 when construction first began, park director Fernando Orozco Ojeda said.
Orozco reported that a few weeks ago when park rangers returned to the area, they realized that the mansion had been completed and found it guarded by armed security forces. The PNT has been closed since April due to the coronavirus.
“We recently returned to the area, which is difficult to access and — oh, surprise! The house is finished,” he said.
The 692-hectare park protects the ecology of the area, as well as important Mayan ruins such as El Castillo, a temple once used as a lighthouse which dates back to the sixth century.
According to Orozco, the owner of the residence, identified as Rogeiro Dos Santos, claims to have “all the permits in order,” which would constitute another illegality as no municipal agency has the authority to issue such permits in an area that is not only protected but belongs to the federal government.
The home is also said to violate a December 15, 2007 ruling that confers the administration of 184,409 square meters of the federal maritime-terrestrial zone, adjacent to the PNT, to the Natural Protected Areas Commission (Conanp).
Further, the mansion allegedly violates the provisions of a December 7, 2016 decree which recognizes the area as part of the mega reserve of the Mexican Caribbean Natural Protected Area (ANP), a zone not suitable for urban development.
Over the past five years 27 complaints about illegal construction within the park have been filed, yet between 1990 and 2007 the Quintana Roo government issued 14 property titles without the legal authority to do so.
Margarito Molina Rendón of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Quintana Roo is preparing to visit the mansion to conduct a physical inspection of the property.
The beachfront mansion is located next to the park’s ancient limestone wall which surrounds important archaeological ruins, and part of the inspection will be to determine if its construction has damaged the park’s pre-Hispanic edifices.
Molina’s office will also be reviewing the permit process, and he admits that there is a lot to unravel.
“We are working in a coordinated manner with park authorities to enforce the presidential decrees and reestablish order,” Molina says.