April 6, 2024
Today´s Paper

Train Maya’s Construction Sparks Ecological Crisis and Species Demise

TULUM, Quintana Roo – In an exclusive interview with La Izquierda Diario, workers from Section 6 of the Tren Maya construction project have come forward to denounce the official rhetoric surrounding the project. Despite public assurances, these workers claim that the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA), responsible for overseeing the construction, has instructed them to press ahead with the project, disregarding the destruction of precious flora and fauna.

Official information states that Section 6 of the Tren Maya stretches across 255.8 kilometers, connecting the towns of Tulum and Chetumal, traversing four municipalities in Quintana Roo. This section is set to include a stop in the town of Limones, Othón P. Blanco, as well as four stations: Aeropuerto-Tulum, Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Bacalar, and Chetumal.

According to local residents, the natural habitat of numerous species has been drastically reduced due to the ongoing works of President López Obrador’s flagship government project. Among the affected creatures are the tigrillos (featured on the cover of this article), the black jaguar native to the region, various species of snakes, tuco-tucos, and spider monkeys.

Train Maya's Construction Sparks Ecological Crisis and Species Demise

Photographs shared by workers and local inhabitants with our publication reveal a disconcerting reality. Following the passage of heavy machinery used to clear trees and shrubs obstructing the original path of the railway, it is distressingly common to find animals devastated by these very activities.

Meanwhile, the instructions received by subcontracted workers from SEDENA entail leaving the remains of destroyed flora and fauna by the roadside, to be later transported to territories within the jungle. Faced with the potential risks associated with interacting with local wildlife and the lack of proper training and specialists, these workers are authorized to proceed with their machinery or even machetes to remove any animals they encounter along the way.

Official sources assert that the Tren Maya construction project employs specialists and personnel from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) to ensure the preservation of the peninsula’s habitat, flora, and fauna. However, testimonies from the workers themselves indicate that these safeguards are not being adequately implemented.

The Tren Maya: Pitting Nature Against Laborers

Train Maya's Construction Sparks Ecological Crisis and Species Demise

Among the revelations brought to light by La Izquierda Diario Mexico are reports of harsh working conditions endured by laborers involved in this ecocidal megaproject. Many workers endure shifts exceeding twelve hours under the scorching sun, often without adequate materials or protective gear. As a result, they are vulnerable to contracting diseases and experiencing numerous health issues when in contact with the local flora and fauna.

Common occurrences include cases of poisoning due to contact with the Chechén tree or other types of poisonous ivy, whose resin causes burns, skin ulcers, and swelling, with varying degrees of severity, sometimes leading to grave consequences. Specific instructions exist for the Chechén tree, requiring it not only to be felled but also to be cut into small logs, thereby increasing the risk of contact. However, when seeking medical assistance, workers are denied recognition of such incidents as occupational accidents or work-related illnesses, resulting in compensation payments at a mere 60% of their registered salary, classified as a general illness.

Train Maya's Construction Sparks Ecological Crisis and Species Demise

Furthermore, workers allege that military officials often engage in profiteering by selling a portion of the obtained firewood to impoverished local residents, peasants, and even timber traffickers who freely traverse the region.

It is important to note that due to harsh working conditions and a lack of available workforce in the region, many workers are recruited from other regions or states within the country. Consequently, the majority of these laborers reside in overcrowded spaces provided by SEDENA or rent accommodation within the region.

Meanwhile, the government and SEDENA continue to subcontract workers, effectively perpetuating a form of contractual simulation, despite the self-proclaimed “Fourth Transformation” government’s commitment to eliminating labor outsourcing.

As the Tren Maya continues to forge ahead, these revelations of environmental devastation and labor exploitation cast a long shadow over the legacy of this ambitious infrastructure project. The delicate balance between progress and preservation hangs in the balance, leaving both nature and workers caught in the crossfire of conflicting interests.


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