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Mexico’s Maya Train is damaging ancient caverns. Discover the gorgeous ‘cenotes’ under hazard

Mexico's Maya Train is destroying ancient caves. Learn about the beautiful 'cenotes' under threat

AKTUN TUYUL CAVERN SYSTEM, Mexico (AP) — Mexico’s outbound leader has actually quickly constructed a train system looping around the nation’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador guaranteed the more than $30 billion Maya Train job would link traveler centers like Cancún and Playa del Carmen to thick jungle and remote historical sites, drawing cash into long-neglected rural swathes of the nation.

However the crown gem of the populist’s presidency likewise runs over among Mexico’s natural marvels: A vulnerable system of an approximated 10,000 below ground caverns, rivers, lakes, and freshwater sinkholes.

As his term concerns an end, Associated Press reporters took a trip along an area of that cavern network, recording its damage.


The cavern system includes among the greatest aquifers in Mexico and functions as the area’s primary water source, essential at a time when the country deals with a deepening water crisis.

The area was as soon as a reef nestled underneath the Caribbean Sea, however altering water level pressed Mexico’s southern peninsula out of the ocean as a mass of limestone. Water shaped the permeable stone into caverns throughout countless years.

It produced the open-face freshwater caverns referred to as “cenotes” and underground rivers that remain in equivalent parts breathtaking and fragile, described Emiliano Monroy-Ríos, a geologist at Northwestern University studying the area.

“These communities are extremely, extremely vulnerable,” Monroy-Ríos stated. “They are building on a land that resembles gruyere cheese, filled with caverns and cavities of various sizes and at various depths.”


The train has actually triggered criticism by ecologists and researchers as its building and construction raked down countless trees, a piece of the biggest tropical forest in the Americas after the Amazon.

However the caverns increased to the leading edge in current months when specialists who have actually long operated in the caverns published videos of federal government employees utilizing enormous metal drills to bore into the limestone, embedding an approximated 15,000 steel pillars into the caverns.

The pillars were made to raise the railway, something López Obrador stated would secure the ancient underground world, currently under hazard by mass tourist.

Rather, what the AP recorded was damage.

Throughout the cavern system, stalactites broken off by vibrations from train building and construction litter the ground like debris following an earthquake. In other caverns, the concrete filling the pillars has actually spilled out to coat the limestone ground. Water revealed traces of iron contamination by rust originating from the metal.

The damage ripples out to the remainder of the environment, the AP discovered, as the fresh water aquifer links to Caribbean Sea.


López Obrador, who has actually depicted himself as a champ of Mexico’s long-forgotten bad, has actually stated the train “our tradition of advancement for the southeast of Mexico.”

The populist has fast-tracked building and construction of the train to attempt to keep guarantees to finish it before June elections, something appears all however difficult.

The federal government has actually evaded oversight, neglected court orders, used the Mexican armed force in its building and construction and obstructed the release of info in the name of “natural security.” In an offense of Mexican law, the administration likewise didn’t perform a thorough research study to examine the possible ecological effects before beginning building and construction.

The relocations he’s made have actually just deepened his continuous clashes with the nation’s judiciary, even more sustaining criticisms that his federal government is weakening democratic organizations.

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