Water project | A Maya railroad project on the Mexican coast endangers the water and future.

Residents worry that it may contaminate the caves where they get their water, put their kids at risk, and cut off their access to the outside world.


Mexico's VIDA Y ESPERANZA — The ambitious Maya Train project in Mexico, which is meant to improve the Yucatan Peninsula, is splitting the communities it was intended to serve and endangering the Indigenous Maya people after whom it was named.


One contentious section traverses some of the most intricate and delicate underground cave systems in the world for more than 68 miles (110 kilometers) between the beaches of Cancun and Tulum.


Environmentalists, archaeologists, and cave divers have expressed opposition to one of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's flagship projects and have staged demonstrations to prevent backhoes from uprooting trees and removing the thin layer of soil.

The train will, however, pass directly by the doors of the mostly Maya residents of Vida y Esperanza, a community of around 300 people and 70 dwellings whose name means "Life and Hope." They worry that it will contaminate the caves where they get their water, put their kids at risk, and cut off their connection to the outside world.


Archaeologist and cave diver Octavio Del Rio points out the Guardianes cave that is just beneath the train's course, a few miles from the acres of downed trees where the train is meant to run. In certain spots, the limestone roof of the cave is only two or three feet thick, and a rushing train would most likely cause it to collapse.


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