Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Jul 18 (EFE).- Greenpeace activists held a peaceful protest on Monday following reports that construction work has illegally resumed on the suspended Maya railroad project in southeastern Mexico.
A judge in late May had ordered a definite halt to work on a section of the railroad in Quintana Roo state that links the famed resort city of Cancun with Tulum, the site of the ruins of a pre-Columbian Mayan walled city and also a popular tourism destination in the so-called Riviera Maya region, until environmental impact studies are conducted and approved.
Viridiana Lazaro Lembrino, a Greenpeace Mexico agriculture and climate change specialist, told Efe that the environmental watchdog has received numerous reports from ordinary citizens in recent days about the restart of work on Section 5.
“We decided to hold this peaceful demonstration, this direct, non-violent action, to denounce the deforestation that has occurred despite these court-ordered suspensions, which is illegal,” she said. “They’re breaking the law again. They’re violating international agreements again, and we can’t allow that.”
The works resumed on July 13, Lazaro Lembrino said, adding that the deforestation of the area where the route will run is being carried out piecemeal, a process that may be linked to the expropriation and acquisition of properties.
The 200-billion-peso ($9.8-billion) Maya railroad project is one of the priorities of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, whose administration plans to build more than 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) of railroad in five southeastern Mexican states: Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo to boost development, tourism and employment.
Activists have demanded in recent months that the government halt construction of Section 5, saying that as part of that work thousands of trees have been cut down and underground rivers have been contaminated.
“We’re above the world’s biggest and most important system of flooded and semi-flooded caves, and we have to protect that,” Lazaro Lembrino said.
The Greenpeace activists walked through a section of rainforest to a spot where trees are being cleared for the construction of a portion of the Maya rail project.
Once there, they inflated an enormous life preserver that weighed nearly 400 kilograms (880 pounds) and which contained the message S.O.S. and “Protejamos la selva maya” (Let’s Protect the Mayan Rainforest).
While setting up for their protest action, a group of construction workers arrived at the site. Although they filled up some machines with fuel, they did not operate them on this occasion.
“The workers decided not to turn on the machines today, but on previous days we observed them working,” the activist said.
Greenpeace Mexico carried out an earlier peaceful protest on March 28 in which they demanded a halt to rainforest clearing for the Maya train project until environmental impact studies are performed. EFE