The Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) had previous knowledge of the “irredeemable loss” of the mangrove and the species of fauna of Tajamar, as reveals the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Faced with the endorsement of the environmental authorities, the society has filed 14 amparo lawsuits against the project.
The Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (Sermarnat) was aware of the “irredeemable loss” of the mangrove and the species of the fauna of Tajamar, Quintana Roo, as reveal the Environmental Impact Statement of private modality the Anteproyecto Malecón Cancún (Preliminary Project Promenade of Cancún, MIA-P), of which Contralinea possesses a copy.
The site with over 70 hectares of area started to be urbanized since 2006. It containing 62 plant species and is a habitat of 32 amphibious, reptile, bird and mammal species. Yet the environmental authorities did not find any inconvenience regarding the real estate mega project Malecón Cancún.
Based on the arbitrary and the destruction registered in January 2016, the civil society has filed 14 amparo lawsuits against the project, of which tow definite and a provisional suspensions were obtained. Hence it compels the authorities and third parties of executing any works in the Tajamar Mangrove.
The Environmental Impact Statement
Drafted by the company Ingeniería del Medio Ambiente, SA de CV (Imasa), at the request of the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (Fonatur), the MIA-P was submitted for its evaluation on the 10th of February 2005 at the Comprehensive Center of Services of the Under-secretariat of Management for the Environmental Protection.
In one of the 445 pages that make up the file can be read: “It is stated to the environmental authority that the plot that is occupied by the project will be part of the urban area where the natural space will be replaced entirely”.
Five months later, on the 28th of July 2005, through the document S.G.P.A.lDGIRADEI.1855.05, the General Directorate of Impact and Environmental Risk (DGIRA) issued a conditional authorization.
The DGIRA did not find any inconvenience in approving the construction of the real estate project Malecón Cancún on the plot that contained 37.61 hectares of hydrophilic plants; 11.49 hectares of terrestrial plants and 9.66 hectares of water mirror and dirt roads.
A site of 58.76 hectares which also, according to the own environmental statement, hosted 62 plant species, among them the mangrove of Conocarpus-Rhizophora, the mixed induced mangrove and the primary mangrove, with the status of special protection by the Norm 059 of the Semarnat (NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010).
The polygon area is also habitat to 32 amphibious, reptile, bird and mammal species. On the lot, according to the documentation of the own company Imasa, points out the constant presence of the striped iguana (Ctenosaura similis), the leopard frog (berlandieri frog) and the Morelet’s crocodile (Cocodrylus moreleti) which figures as under protection status. Among the most common species also are the anolis (Anolis sericeus and Anolis sagrei), who live mainly in the areas of solid ground.
In the case of the birds, with frequency the Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes aurofrons), the Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), the Green Heron (Butorides virescens), the Great Egret (Casmerodius albus), the White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica), the Dusky-capped Flycatcher (Myiarchus tiberculifer) and the Mangrove vireo (Vireo pallens) are to be seen.
While the most frequent mammal species are the Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) and the Raccoon (Procyon lotor).
In all Imasa accounted nine species under some status of protection: seven in the category of special protection and two under the category of endangered species.
Despite the findings, the statement concluded that “the species under some status of protection registered have a large distribution in the entity, thus the changes at a regional level and at the site surely will not affect its populations, and hence will not be threatened by the realization of the project”.
Devastation of Tajamar, since 2006
A year after when the Semarnat authorized the changes in land use on forest lands for the project, still being the head José Luis Luege Tamargo, started the provision of infrastructure. There roads, garrisons and sidewalks were constructed; sanitary and rain drainage was installed; electrification, public lightning, and lotification of the grounds for sale.
The works started on the 22nd May 2006, as informed Guillermo Guzmán Núñez, Deputy Director of Projects and Development Strategies of Fonatur, to the biologist Ricardo Juárez Palacios, Director of Impact and Environmental Risk of Semarnat.
In the document SPED/GGN/028-2007 –of which Contralinea possesses a copy-, Guzmán Núñez also said that due to the need to manage all of the authorizations for its construction, the related works to the urbanization of the project have reached a progress of 20 per cent in dirt roads.
In the missive of two pages, dated on the 15th of January 2007, the public servant of Fonatur mentioned that to continue the construction of the infrastructure, more time was needed, thus he was asked to extend the validity of the authorization for a period of 24 months.
In the event of not obtaining this extension “environmental, economic and social damage would be done, since this area is in the process of transformation”.
In this regard he added: “the area where the streets will be built is located at dirt road level, which gives the opportunity for the invasion of grounds and the occupation without control of the disposal of waste. In the economic aspect it would lead to a loss of 30.48 million pesos invested to this day; by not concluding with the provision of services to the lots for its commercialization and further occupation, employments related with construction and the operation of the urban area would not be created; as well as in the social matter, the city of Cancun would lose the possibility of having a window to the Nichupté Lagoon System and to concentrate the services provided by the public municipal administration”.
It was not the only occasion when Fonatur requested extensions or modifications to the Semarnat. By arguing the “most precise measurements of the same polygon area”, the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism asked –throughout the document SPED/JFAJ/508-2007, dated on the 11th of July 2007- the endorsement by the Semarnat to extend the area of 58.76 hectares to 74.24 hectares, same that was granted right away.
As the own fund reported, 2 years after in 2009, the extension of the validity of the authorization with regards to the environmental impact and use of soil was approved, with an expiration date of the 8th of February 2016.
The hurry of the predatory tourism
During 4 days heavy machinery entered and leveled over 90% of the environmental reserve, accused the association Salvemos al Manglar Tajamar. According to the organization, at 4 in the morning of Saturday the 16th January, around 50 trucks with material, water pipes and backhoes entered the Tajamar mangrove to refill, devastate and try to “rescue” the flora, fauna still existing.
Via its Facebook profile, Salvemos al Manglar Tajamar denounced that despite that the Directorate of Ecology said to have supervised the rescue of the flora, “we are all witnesses that this is false and the Federal Attorney’s Office of Protection of the Environment (Profepa) did not conclude the rescue of the fauna, since the presence of crocodiles days after the devastation of the place”.
However, in November 2015, the Fourth Judge of Cancun ruled the definitive suspension of the works in favor of the 113 children that promoted the amparo lawsuit against the devastation of the mangrove. The ruling however, settled a bail of 20 million 985 thousand 643.89 pesos to the minors, looking forward to compensate the possible damage and harm that could be done to the 22 companies that would construct the touristic project at that spot.
Hitherto the civil society has filed 14 amparo lawsuits against the project Malecón Tajamar of which two definitive and one provisional suspension have been obtained, which makes it impossible for the works at the mangrove Tajamar to continue.
The development project Malecón Cancún is part of the portfolio of business of the Fonatur denominated Proyecto de Plan Maestro Malecón Cancún, headed to generate the alleged real estate alternatives close to the city of Cancun.
Out of the real estate market studies presented in the Master Plan Malecón Cancún, which establishes that by 2020 around 10 thousand housings of middle socio-economic sectors would be required in this touristic destination, for which this project could satisfy 50% of the demand.
Being a property of the fund, it is located in the transition between the touristic zone and the urban of the city of Cancun, in front of the Nichupté Lagoon. The lagoon system of Nichupté is a coast lagoon integrated by the lagoon of Nichupté; four peripheral lagoons: Bojorquez, Caleta, del Amor and Río Ingles; and two communication channels with the Caribbean Sea, Cancun (Linda Beach) and Nizuc.
As a whole the system covers an area of 12 square kilometers of breadth by 21 kilometers of length. This water body is found protected by the Caribbean Sea by a sand wall, the island of Cancun, over which the hotel zone is constructed.
The lagoon system Nichupté is being used for the recreation of visitors and as a navigation way for lesser vessels with basically touristic purposes. On its adjacent margin to the hotel zone are located most nautical infrastructure, that operates in this touristic center, as well as restaurants, hotels, villas and shopping malls, that take profit of the aquatic body as a natural scenario.
Fonatur has pretended since 1992 to implement development projects in the plot called Malecón Cancún. The MIA-P is an updated version of the Malecón Cancún project as a precedent, throughout the document D.O.D.DGNRE.4110372, on the 5th of August 1992 by the General Directorate of Ecological Regulation and Environmental Impact, of the National Institute of Ecology. Therein the construction of urban infrastructure for the housing, touristic, commercial development and dredging activity had been authorized.
According to the Coordination Agreement for the Ecological Regulation of the region called Lagoon System Nichupté, Cancún, Quintana Roo, published in the Official Gazette of the Government of Quintana Roo, on the 30th of November 1994, an area where the it was intended to develop the project of the status of Utilization for the Urban and Touristic Development of Lower Density (Territorial Unity of Environmental Management T-20) was assigned.
It corresponds to these units an ecological policy of utilization, with an aim of use of soil fit for urban and touristic development of low density (up to 150 inhabitants per hectare), with criteria of ecological regulation.
The project Malecón Cancún –a real estate development promoted by the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, to be located in the municipality of Benito Juárez –which will be operated by Fonatur as the primary development (urbanization and provision of services) to later commercialize urbanized lots and services to real estate promotors who will sell them with the infrastructure for housing purpose of low density, according to the Ecological Regulation of the Region called lagoon system Nichupté.
Its development process was presented in three phases: urbanization, lotification and construction. Thereof the two first ones were evaluated in the Environmental Impact Statement of private modus, the third phase corresponds to the construction remains pending of the compliance of the environmental requirements which the authorities solicit or require, at its moments to each of the purchaser of the lots.
According to the description included in the MIA-P, the road system will be integrated by 3.3 kilometers of primary network, 1.4 kilometers of secondary network and six roundabouts of 15 meters diameter in average.
(Translated by: Axel Plasa)
Contralínea 477/ del 29 de Febrero al 05 de Marzo del 2016