The Rights of Nature Tribunal held its eighth local hearing in Yucatan, Mexico from March 9-12, 2023 on the case of the Tren Maya (Mayan Train), a megaproject that puts ecosystems and communities at serious risk of destruction.
The case was presented by affected Indigenous communities and specialists from the region and was heard by a panel of world-renowned judges, who examined the case from the perspective of the Rights of Nature.
We Invite You to Watch the Tribunal
The Mayan Train Project
This train will run 932 miles and will cross five states in the Mexican southeast: Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo. The construction of this rail transportation project requires an investment of 200 billion Mexican pesos and is expected to be completed by 2023.
The Tren Maya megaproject is not limited to the infrastructural aspect but also proposes a territorial reorganization focused on the urbanization of Indigenous and peasant regions. Along the railroad, the construction of 12 stops and 19 stations is planned, which “will form part of development poles” of up to 1,000 hectares, which implies the creation of new urban centers or the expansion of existing cities.
Under the excuse of creating half a million jobs (during the construction phase), this “land use planning” project will result in long-term consequences and destruction of ecosystems and communities.
The effects of the project
The train route covers regions that are considered significant areas of biodiversity, and constitute the territories of Mayan communities that have inhabited these lands since ancestral times. These communities continued to maintain their traditional practices, living in harmony with nature today.
The construction of the train is cause for grave concern, given that more than 2,500 hectares of wet and dry forests will be sacrificed — representing almost 9 million trees. It will also affect unique and sacred underground caverns such as cenotes, caves, and aquifers since the train route will pass over these ecosystems that are home for many endemic species.
The loss and deterioration of habitats as a result of the train will affect many endangered species in the region, such as the jaguar.
Other collateral effects of this transformation of ecosystems include noise pollution, fires, damage to water reserves and waste management, damage to fauna, contamination of the jungle, and fragmentation of ecosystems, among others.
– the region is home to 33 percent of the freshwater in all of Mexico –
The Mayan territory, which is the co-evolution of thousands of years between the Mayan people and their habitat, will suffer irreversible transformations in its social and environmental components. This will represent an irreparable loss of the bio-cultural diversity that characterizes the southeastern region of Mexico.
The project was initiated without conducting environmental impact statements. There have been serious irregularities in its implementation and approval, such as the failure to carry out a strategic environmental assessment that considers the cumulative impacts of the project. Nor has the right to participation and decision-making of the Mayan communities whose territory will be impacted been respected, affecting their right to self-determination.
The Rights of Nature Tribunal
The International Rights of Nature Tribunal is an international institution created by citizens to investigate violations of the Rights of Nature. The Tribunal creates a forum for people from all over the world to speak out on behalf of Nature, to protest the destruction of the Earth – encouraged by corporations with the blessing of governments. Thus the Tribunal makes conflicts and their actors visible and makes legal recommendations on the protection and restoration of the Earth as model jurisprudence for grassroots communities fighting to protect ecosystems. The Tribunal also focuses on supporting Indigenous Peoples to raise their voices and share the impacts they see on their territories as stewards of the Earth. It is a space to share alternatives on land, water, and culture with the global community. The Tribunal’s verdicts, if applied at the highest level, could provide a necessary tool in the struggle for environmental protection and justice.
To learn more about the Rights of Nature Tribunal, click here.
List of judges invited to the Tribunal
Aquí encontrarán los jueces y sus biografías
Father Raúl Vera
Other important information
We are Mayan women and men from different communities of the Yucatan Peninsula, mostly ejidatarios and peasants who see the Peninsular territory affected by megaprojects implemented by companies that in the classic conquering way come to take our land to develop their business.
We are an itinerant Assembly, NOT a Civil Association, our meeting place is in a community of the Yucatan Peninsula, with a previous agreement between the community and the Assembly, so we can share our problems regarding megaprojects and build agreements on strategies to defend our territory.
The fundamental agreements of the Assembly are: We do not sell or rent the land; no to religions; no to political parties; yes to Mayan culture and language; yes to the defense of our rights as Mayan people.
Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature
Assembly of Defenders of the Mayan Territory, Múuch’ Xíinbal
Mexican Civil Council for Sustainable Forestry (CCMSS)