Photos: Experts warn of ecological threat from Mayan Train route | Indigenous Rights News
Parts of Mexico’s remote southern jungle have remained virtually unchanged since ancient Maya times.
A Champion Railroad of the President of Mexico Andres Manuel López Obrador may be about to change that, though. The new line his government is building – called On Maya or The Mayan Train — will bring modern connectivity to areas that have been deprived of substantial economic benefits for generations.
But scientists and environmentalists have warned that the railway and its hasty construction would seriously jeopardize the pristine wilderness and ancient cave system beneath the forest floor. bushy.
Ismael Lara, a guide who takes tourists to a cave sheltering millions of bats near the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, said the railway “is dividing the forest in two”. Lara feared that the train, passing by, would disrupt wildlife routes and attract the growth of fragile ecosystems.
The 1,470km (910 mi) railway is set to transport diesel and electric trains across the Yucatan Peninsula and connects Mexico’s top tourist destination Cancun with the ancient temples of Chichen Itza and Chichen Itza. The Mayan Palenque. The route will pass through a system of thousands of underground caves created from the area’s soft limestone bedrock by water over millions of years.
Crystallized lakes, known as “cenotes”, mark the Yucatan Peninsula, where the limestone surface has subsided to reveal groundwater. The world’s longest underground river is known to flow through caves, which were also the site of the discovery of ancient human fossils and Mayan artefacts. A canoe found in the caves is estimated to be over 1,000 years old.
The railroad deeply divided Mexicans. The Mexican National Fund for Tourism Development (FONATUR) says the railway will lift more than a million people out of poverty and could create up to 715,000 new jobs by 2030.
But scientists and activists have accused the government of slashing environmental risk assessments in an effort to complete the railway while Lopez Obrador remains in office.
In December, UN experts warned the railway’s status as a national security project that would allow the government to bypass conventional environmental protections. They called on the government to protect the environment by global standards.