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Mexico: Despite irregularities in the “Mayan Train” consultation, President insists project will move forward

On the 14th and 15th December 2019, the Mexican government undertook two consultations in the five states of the Yucatan peninsula with regards to the proposed “Mayan Train” project.  Although different authorities confirmed the success of the consultation with a participation of 75% of the indigenous communities, various irregularities were registered. 

These included a low real participation rate (2.86% of the electoral population), the supposed pressure exerted on voters to vote in favour, the lack of information about the touristic projects that will accompany the train and the manipulation of indigenous participation promising social benefits in exchange for a vote in favour.  After the consultation, a territory defender reported death threats related to his work in defence of human rights on the peninsula.  

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10 January 2020

Mexico's president says Mayan Train project to move forward

Author: Al Jazeera

…Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday said his controversial Mayan Train project would move ahead after residents in the five states where the train was proposed to run through voted in favour of the proposal.

The government reported overwhelming support in the region, with 99 percent voting in favour in Campeche. The lowest level of support was in Quintana Roo with 85 percent voting in favour. Just 100,000 people of the region's more than 11 million voted, however…

The proposed 1,525km (950-mile) train would connect communities and natural reserves in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. It is expected to cost between $6-8bn, but bring more than three million visitors and tourists to the region annually…

The project has faced some pushback, however, from environmental groups that worry about the effects of the train on the region's vast biodiversity, and indigenous groups who fear they will not be properly compensated or consulted throughout the process…

Despite the support, many also expressed concerns over the potential effects of the train on road conditions and wildlife. Questions also remain about how communities and residents would be compensated if the route ran through or affects their land or territory…

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Item
19 December 2019

UN Mexico rights office criticizes government on Mayan Train

Author: Star Tribune

…The Mexico office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a string of criticisms…of the government's handling of consultations with indigenous communities over a planned megaproject known as the Mayan Train in the country's southeast.

The agency, which said its observers attended a number of regional assemblies in late November and December, applauded Mexico for its stated intent of respecting and protecting indigenous rights and for the fact that the consultations took place before the project's execution.

But days after a referendum on the multibillion-dollar project that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said gave overwhelming support to the proposal, the U.N. office found that the consultations were flawed and the process "has not complied with all international standards on human rights."

The office said that during the assemblies, observers noted that only possible benefits of the project were mentioned and not "negative impacts" that could be caused. On multiple occasions, it said, participants asked about those potential impacts and did not receive a clear or complete answer…

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Item
17 December 2019

Death threats against Yucatan activist and opponent of the Mayan Train

Author: The Yucatan Times (Mexico)

…The renowned Mayan activist, Pedro Uc, was threatened with death in Yucatan; the alleged hit men also threatened to kill his family.

The Mayan activist and professor, Pedro Uc, was threatened with death via WhatsApp, for defending large amounts of land, which they seek to convert into different industrial projects, amongst those, the “Tren Maya”.

The activist pointed out that the death threat was also received by his son and according to the screenshots he shared in his social networks, the number from where he received the threats is from the state of Morelos.

The alleged hitmen told him the age of his wife and the names of his children, in a clear message that they know about his family and that, their death threat is serious.

“It’s affecting a lot of local people with your defense of the territory, it’s just an invention to grab a money over nothing. 48 hours”… (SIC) they wrote to the activist, who pointed this out on his Facebook profile…

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