Thursday, August 15, 2019
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO)’s Maya Train poses serious social, financial and environmental risks
- Demonstrations against the train are likely, threatening to slow construction, increase costs and further taint the project’s reputation.
- Unavoidable deforestation risks undermining the publicity value of AMLO’s tree-planting projects, even if felled trees are replaced.
- Facilitating travel to less-visited Mayan sites may strain resources such as water, necessitating further infrastructure investment.
- If the project proves a success, long-term expansion into Belize and Guatemala may be considered, raising new opportunities and objections.
Ambitious projects always bring risks, but the Maya Train has added layers of controversy that make it a gamble for the tourism sector.
Mayan complaints of a lack of consultation threaten accusations of cultural appropriation, while environmental concerns regarding deforestation and endangered species are growing, with promises of animal bridges doing little to placate critics.
Government estimates of costs look highly optimistic, and with investor relations under strain, the prospects of delivering the project on time and on budget are dim. AMLO’s refusal to acknowledge legitimate criticism could quickly turn the Maya Train into a major financial burden.
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