Massive railway project in Mexico horrifies conservationists


The ancient Maya thought that the cenotes in the Yucatán Peninsula were very special because they believed they were doors to the gods of the underworld.

These caves underground are one of the purest water systems in Latin America.

They are calm, while there is a lot of noise and building work happening right above them.

The Mexican president‘s new train project, called the Tren Maya (Maya Train), is almost finished. The last columns and tracks are being built.

The network will be 1,500 kilometers long and stretch from Chiapas state to the border with Belize. Its supporters believe that this will bring tourism and development to the jungle.

The Tren Maya had to deal with many challenges before it started its first trip. It cost about $28. 5 billion, which is three times more than expected.

With a lot of confidence, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, also known as Amlo, said it’s the biggest building project in the world.

Environmentalists are really upset.

They say that cutting down trees along the route has been really bad for the homes of animals like jaguars, scarlet macaws, and spider monkeys.

Members of a group called “Sélvame del Tren” took us through tunnels and caves to show us how the train is affecting the clean water in the area.

Cave diver Bernadette Carrión says, “This water is cleaned by nature and safe to drink,” as we go into a cave called “Oppenheimer,” named after the damage around it.

“If this place gets dirty, nothing will be able to live here,” she says.

In the cenote, you can hear water dripping from the rock into pools below.

There is a big ceiling above us with pointy rocks hanging down. It is a really amazing sight, but not many people have seen it because Oppenheimer is not included in tourist trips or local visits to cenotes.

Water flows under the ground in the Yucatán and connects the caves to the sea.

The more we make the middle of the peninsula dirty, the more we make the ocean dirty. Ms Carrión says that the coral reefs and algae are already being harmed, which is affecting the production of oxygen.

As we walk and swim in the underground maze, famous Mexican water expert Guillermo D. Christy shows the rocky landscape where the limestone has been worn away to create rivers and caves.

He says the mineral formations called stalactites, which filter rainwater, are getting blocked by cement dust.

The team doesn’t hold back when talking about the train. They call it a “huge monument” and say it was built for a proud leader.

Above the land, the Tren Maya has caused different opinions and separated communities.

The Maya village of Vida y Esperanza has been divided by Line 5, the part of the train track that goes from Cancún to the south. A maintenance station is being constructed across from the school.

The government paid the villagers for their land and most people in the area think the train will help the economy, especially those who support Amlo.

But Benjamin Chim had his land destroyed and turned into a quarry for the railroad. He didn’t get paid for them because, like many Maya farmers, he couldn’t prove they were his.

“We have been farming this land for 40 years,” he says, while pointing to a scene of complete destruction with trucks moving around.

Mr Chim says he asked for the property deeds but never got them. The army, who are building and running the train, said he can go back to the land once the project is finished. However, at that time, it won’t be able to be used.

While we were talking, soldiers told us to leave the area.

During construction, the plan for Line 5 was changed because luxury hotel chains asked to have it removed from near their hotels.

Activists are concerned that the building surveys were done quickly and they worry that the elevated sections of the track could fall down because the cave network is complex, like honeycomb or Swiss cheese.

In a special interview, the Tren Maya director, General Óscar Lozano Águila, said it is very safe.

“If you ask me as a soldier, technician, or systems operator, I will still say that all Mexican and international tourists on our train will be safe. ”

He says that building it was a big achievement because the ground beneath the track is not strong, but he made sure it was built to strong and strict rules.

“We all worked together to reach this great goal. ” This is a really amazing piece of infrastructure.

Amlo thinks the Tren Maya is important to improve Mexico’s train services.

As part of his big plan, about 20,000km (12,500 miles) of train tracks that are only used for carrying goods will be used for passengers again. Also, a new freight line that goes from one coast of the country to the other is being made to be just as important as the Panama Canal.

President López Obrador says it is very important for the country’s growth.

We came out of the tunnels and found a hidden historical treasure called Manitas, which is a cenote with 31 ancient handprints on the cave walls.

Long ago, it was a place where some of the first people in America were buried.

Amlo’s train could bring lots of new visitors to the Yucatán Peninsula. However, the quick development could also destroy the valuable secrets on which the area was built.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here