Muyil, a community situated between two economic poles, Tulum and the commercial corridor of the new Felipe Carrillo Puerto airport, presents itself as a promising option for housing, logistics and business. This advantageous location allows individuals to immerse themselves in the Tulum scene without actually residing in Tulum. Despite this, local residents, including Ariel Gracia, a real estate consultant and integral promoter of the Muyil community in Quintana Roo, express their concern regarding the ongoing development process.
Gracia has brought to the attention of various agencies and authorities, including Governor Mara Lezama, his apprehensions concerning this community, which serves as the entrance to the Mayan zone and is the keeper of an archaeological site that welcomed 45,623 visitors in 2022 alone, according to data from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). To prevent potentially catastrophic effects on the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve, community, and social life, Gracia proposes exploring businesses with low social impact and high value in Muyil and the commercial corridor of the new airport.
“Muyil is confirmed as an essential transition zone with the construction of the air gateway, the Mayan Train station, and its privileged location in the state’s center. With these federal projects, Muyil’s potential to attract new settlers is immense, particularly since its land prices remain and will remain more affordable than those in Tulum for some time. However, if this situation is not anticipated and addressed in advance, it could lead to catastrophic consequences,” warns Gracia.
There’s a new development project underway in the area of Ciudad Muyil, which aims to become a second urban center. Property titles have been issued since the government of Enrique Peña Nieto, although the project doesn’t have an Environmental Impact Assessment (MIA). In an interview, a spokesperson emphasized the need for the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) to report on the project’s status. The project has been promoted since 2010 by the ejido Chunyaxché y Anexos, which requested a change of use of forest land in its Unified Technical Document (DTU) to obtain the MIA.
Chunyaxché, also known as Muyil due to its archaeological zone, is located in the municipality of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, on federal highway 307 at kilometer 200. According to the 2020 census of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi), it is populated by 328 people, mostly of Mayan origin. The economy is primarily self-consumption, but many of the younger residents work in the hotel and construction industries in the nearby Riviera Maya.
There’s a concern that Muyil could follow the same path as urban centers in the north of the state, which have suffered from a lack of basic services, with negative impacts on the environment and urban image. The fear is that without proper planning, Muyil could end up as a transition zone with inadequate housing and a proliferation of illicit activities and high-impact commerce, harming the social life of the community.
There are two possibilities for Muyil: to be the last destination of the Riviera Maya or to become the gateway to the Maya Ka’an, a low-impact tourist destination that offers an alternative to large resorts in the north. The villagers have already organized community tourism projects that showcase the cultural and biological beauty of Muyil and other towns in Felipe Carrillo Puerto.
Overall, the success of the project will depend on careful planning and management. It’s essential that the government and stakeholders work together to ensure that Muyil’s development is sustainable and beneficial to both its residents and visitors.
Muyil: An Ecotourism Corridor and a Vulnerable Position
Muyil, the last destination of the Riviera Maya, is an extension of Tulum and serves as the gateway to the Maya Ka’an and the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. The area has the potential to become a thriving ecotourism corridor along with other sites such as Punta Allen, Punta Herrero, Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Señor, Tihosuco, Noh-Bec, Kantemó, and Chunhuhub. However, incorrect positioning of Muyil could put the Mayan zone at risk of losing its identity due to transculturation.
According to Ariel Gracia, transition zones can present complex challenges, particularly in terms of urbanization, planning, and security. Therefore, it is crucial for the authorities to define Muyil’s vocation as tourist, environmental, and cultural.
The absence of a Municipal Program of Territorial, Ecological, and Sustainable Urban Development of the Municipality (PMOTEDUS) of Felipe Carrillo Puerto is another concern for the town and the area in general. The most recent program published in 2021 was ignored by Semarnat and partially invalidated by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN). The program indicates that Muyil belongs to the management unit called Lagunas y Llanos Orientales, which aims to preserve the environmental, cultural, and social values that give identity to the Mayan culture and its forests and landscapes.
Muyil currently lacks urban services, and all the houses are connected to water wells and their sewage to septic tanks or biodigesters. The town also lacks a sports center, public square, church, government, or public security office. These factors raise concerns for the sustainable development of the area.
To ensure the preservation of the Mayan culture and the sustainable development of the area, it is crucial for the authorities to define Muyil’s vocation and to implement a comprehensive plan for its development. By doing so, Muyil could become a thriving ecotourism corridor while preserving its unique cultural identity.
Muyil lacks a proper waste collection system. The residents either burn their waste or leave it in the streets and empty lots, while some take it to Tulum for disposal. The area also lacks public security, leading to constant theft and looting. Ariel Gracia, in his letters to the civil and military authorities, proposes the consolidation of the Muyil Ecotourism Environmental Corridor, and the creation of a sustainable and intelligent city model for Muyil.
Gracia’s vision for Muyil is to prioritize pedestrians, the environment, and the natural landscape by encouraging the use of bicycles and electric public transportation. He suggests using new technologies for waste treatment, wastewater management, and energy generation, and generating new public policies to encourage sustainable habits and practices.
To bring his ideas to life, Gracia invites professionals in ecology, urban planning, architecture, landscaping, and social development, along with the government, to work together on a new urban model for the future cities of Quintana Roo. He also proposes the construction of several bicycle lanes, including the Muyil section, Muyil-Airport section, Muyil-Chumpón section, and Tulum-Muyil section, to promote the use of bicycles as a means of transportation.
In his efforts towards social justice, he aims to promote progress while preserving the Mayan culture and natural heritage. His goal is to improve the quality of life for people without risking their cultural identity. He believes that we should avoid repeating the outdated and failed urban model of the north of the state, which has resulted in large heat islands and pedestrian sidewalks of only 90 centimeters. This model also allows for large vehicular streams that ultimately render public space useless by turning it into parking lots.
To achieve his vision, he proposes the establishment of a branch of the Factory of Arts and Crafts (Faro) project in Chumpón. This town is located in the Mayan zone of Felipe Carrillo Puerto and is an ideal location for the project. The Faro program has facilities in different parts of the country, including Cancun. The establishment of a Faro branch in Chumpón would serve as a means of preserving the ancestral knowledge of the Mayan communities and sharing it with young people and tourists interested in learning.