Indigenous people of Palenque win suspension of the Maya Train

A federal court granted a protective order (amparo) to Chiapas indigenous people by means of which it orders that work on the Palenque stretch of the Maya Train is suspended, for the purpose of safeguarding the health of the Ch’ol people, […]

from — Chiapas Support Committee, shared with thanks

By: Elio Henríquez .. San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas

In a statement, the judge pointed out that when deciding admission of the protective order, the court “determined that it was appropriate to grant the suspension because at this moment it must give preponderant value to the right to health of the complainants as members of the Ch’ol Maya community and inhabitants of the localities, since the work involved in such infrastructure requires the deployment of various activities” that numerous people must carry out who will require essential and non-essential services in the community, thereby increasing activities in their public areas.

The grouping, based in Yucatán, indicated that indigenous Chiapanecos of Palenque, Ocosingo and Salto de Agua presented the request for an amparo on May 7.

They presented the lawsuit against President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Secretary of Health, Jorge Alcocer, and the director general of the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, Rogelio Jiménez Pons, for issuance of the April 6 agreement and the April 23 decree, “through which the continuation of the Maya Train, among other administration projects, was determined, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.”

It added that: “complainants pointed out that the continuation of the project, in the context of the pandemic, violated their right to health due to the risk of contagion because of Covid-19, placing the human right to life at risk.

“The inhabitants of those communities argued that maintaining work on the Maya Train during a pandemic prevented them from participating in the environmental and social impact statements to which, as communities, they have a right in the face of any megaproject.

It specified that the court not only prioritized the right to health of the inhabitants of the Ch’ol communities of Ocosingo, Palenque and Salto del Agua, but it also recognized that continuing work on the train in this context could affect other rights of that Native people, like the right to water, environment and natural resources.

The Mayan Train a “project of death” – indigenous representatives ...

It explained that while the suspension decreed is provisional (the definitive suspension will be resolved in a hearing on May 14) it permits making visible the potential damages that the project will cause.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

However, the residents can’t celebrate fully yet: another hearing will be held on May 14 at which a judge will decide whether to upgrade the provisional suspension order to a definitive one, which would provide an even stronger guarantee that work on the railroad in the three municipalities won’t start while Covid-19 remains a health threat.

The Maya Ch’ol residents ultimately want to stop the train project altogether, arguing that it will cause irreparable damage to the environment, including natural resources such as water.

The suspension order comes two months after a judge in Campeche granted a definitive suspension order against the Maya Train to a group of indigenous people in the municipality of Calakmul.

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