A blue semi-truck hauling a flatbed trailer loaded with long metal pipes on a dirt road beside a banana plantation with a white van passing by and overcast skies above.

Mayan Train Project Sparks Crime and Chaos

The Mayan Train project, encompassing sections 6 and 7, has brought a wave of organized crime, sexual harassment against women, militarization, and a rising cost of living to the surrounding communities. The once lush Mayan jungle that provided shade and protection from high temperatures has been decimated by deforestation and indiscriminate logging. Disturbingly, community members have been disappearing, with some turning up dead.

The Mayan Train project has also sparked territorial disputes among drug cartels. The presence of the National Guard and the army, far from deterring violence, seems to be exacerbating it. "There's an increase in intimidation. They come into our communities to harass and search people, provoking violence. It's all part of their crime-fighting theatre," stated a community member.

"For us, as Mayan communities whose lives are intertwined with nature, it's painful to see so many ancient trees felled. They didn't even have the chance to fall with dignity. The machinery brought in for the project destroyed everything in its path," lamented Alexis Hoil, a territorial defender from the community of Chunhuhub in Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Quintana Roo.

Despite the project not directly passing through his community, it has had negative impacts, disrupting the community fabric and causing environmental damage. The cost of housing has increased, and the community is now dealing with the presence of organized crime, militarization, and sexual harassment against women.

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Sections 6 and 7 of the Mayan Train, closest to Chunhuhub, were supposed to be inaugurated in December 2023. However, construction is proceeding at a rapid pace, with only deforestation in sight.

Elsewhere in Quintana Roo, the Estero Chac wetland, part of the Río Hondo, was filled with construction material by the National Defense Secretariat (Sedena) in July 2023. This action threatened the purity of the water, the community's food supply, and overall welfare. After protests, the military admitted their error and retreated, but the damage was done.

"They disregard environmental laws and the constitution, as well as established norms for the protection of people, the environment, water, and land. They acted illegally, but with impunity," claimed Aldair Tuut, a member of the Mayan Assembly Múuch’ Xíinbal.

Sedena began removing the rubble visible to the public less than 24 hours after the protests and for the first time, engaged in dialogue with the citizens, promising to respect the environment. However, the community remains wary, having witnessed the destruction of their once lush jungle and the rise of organized crime due to the Mayan Train project.