In a statement published on December 19th, the Office in Mexico of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) said that the indigenous consultation process on the “Maya Train Development Project”, “has not complied with all international standards in the field.”
It reported that it participated as an observer in this process and attended four of the 15 regional information assemblies and eight of the 15 regional consultative assemblies in Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatan, Tabasco and Quintana Roo.
“While the Office recognizes the decision of the Government of Mexico to make efforts to respect, protect and guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples, including their right to consultation and consent for the aforementioned project and welcomes the participation of multiple governmental entities in the process, it observed that the call, the protocol and the information presented only referred to the possible benefits of the project and not to the negative impacts that it could cause,” says the statement regarding the limitations of the informed nature of the process.
In other concerns, the UNHCHR noted that although “during the briefings and in the consultative stage, some authorities stated that the guarantee of various economic, social and cultural rights was not conditional on the acceptance of the project”, “as a consequence of the way in which the project was presented and the sessions were developed, the people of the communities expressed their agreement with the project as a means to receive attention to basic needs such as water, health, education, work, housing, healthy environment and culture, a logic that affects the free nature of the query.”
The UN DH also expressed concern about the cultural adequacy of the process, when the methodology of the process was not built and agreed with the communities involved. “This implied that the definition of whom to consult, where to do it and at what time it was established unilaterally by the authorities,” it said.
It deplored the low participation and representation of indigenous women in the process and that “the majority of those who participated were municipal and ejidal authorities, leaving out other groups and people who are part of the communities.”
It also stressed that the purpose of the information and consultative assemblies was to “establish agreements with the communities regarding their participation in the implementation and distribution of benefits, which could imply that the project will be done regardless of the outcome of the consultation.”
For more information in Spanish:
Consulta por Tren Maya no cumple estándares internacionales: ONU (La Jornada, 19 de diciembre de 2019)
Consulta sobre el Tren Maya incumple estándares internacionales: ONU-DH (Proceso, 19 de diciembre de 2019)
Rechaza ONU consulta ciudadana del Tren Maya (El Universal, 19 de diciembre de 2019)
ONU-DH emite observaciones sobre consulta de Tren Maya (Excelsior, 19 de diciembre de 2019)
For more information from SIPAZ:
México: Consulta sobre el Tren Maya y 9 otros proyectos “prioritarios” del próximo gobierno 27 de noviembre de 2018
Nacional: AMLO anuncia consulta para la construcción por el tren maya 10 de noviembre de 2018