Texas Activists Say Mexico Moves Indigenous Communities To Make Room For The Maya Train | WGN 720 radio
Protest against Mexican consulate draws attention to potential social and environmental ills of southern Mexico tourism project
EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Several El Paso activist organizations are concerned about what they say is a brewing social and environmental crisis in southern Mexico.
Members of local labor, immigration and women’s groups gathered outside the Mexican consulate in El Paso on Friday to protest alleged harassment of indigenous communities in Chiapas, Mexico, in a bid to relocate them to make room to the multi-billion dollar Maya train project.
“We are very concerned about what is happening in the Indian communities of Chiapas,” said Guillermo Glen, labor rights activist in El Paso. “They have built prosperous and peaceful communities with schools and clinics under the leadership of the Zapatistas, but the local government has allowed the paramilitary groups to settle on them. “
The Maya Train is a project by the Lopez Obrador administration that would lay hundreds of kilometers of track in the Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas – a state with jungles, forests, and plenty of natural and wildlife attractions. The train would welcome American, European and Mexican tourists.
Glen said activists in the United States and Europe were trying to help the self-governing Indian communities born out of a 1994 armed rebellion led by the Zapatista National Liberation Army. The rebels have surrendered and run at least five towns amid jungles and mountains.
Activists said the train would not only displace some communities, but also cause many to leave their farms and homes to take menial jobs in the tourism industry. Plus, it will pass through expanses of pristine landscapes, they said.
Glen said a paramilitary unit allegedly working for private investors in Chiapas recently kidnapped two Zapatista city officials. He said they were released after a priest negotiated their release.
The consulate did not comment on the protest or the activists’ allegations.
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