Posted by: ecodestination | May 3, 2009

Cancun: Erosion project on despite swine flu

“The swine flu be damned!” they said. OK, not really—that’s what I said.

Here’s the deal: federal, state, and municipal authorities have met in Cancun together with the businesses involved in the plan to stop beach erosion in the north of Quintana Roo.  Mexican authorities assured their work will continue.

Beach erosion at Playa del Carmen

Beach erosion at Playa del Carmen

The swine flu plus the worldwide economic crisis—and now its exacerbation due to drastic tourism lows because people mistakenly think they have super high chances of catching swine flu and that it is super deadly*—are wreaking havoc in Mexico.

Still, “The swine flu be damned!” I said (see?).  Beach rescue plans in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel will not be stopped, said Rodolfo Elizondo of the Secretary of Tourism (Sectur) and Mauricio Limón, of Environmental and Natural Resources (Semarnat).

Although the project was to begin on June 4, it has been pushed back a month to July. They expect the project to be finished by December, as it’s the most important month in terms of tourism for the Mexican Caribbean.

Why will this project go on? Precisely because of the chaos: Cancun must get itself out of trouble come high tourist season. It has to regain its allure to attract people to Mexico.

The federal government is ponying up MXN 400 million (USD 29 million) and the state govt. MXN 200 million (USD 14 million) plus credits to be solicited by the municipalities.

Ecological issues

The environmental aspects of the project will cost about MXN 900 million (USD 65 million). The authorities are in the process of gathering public opinion.

The regional Environmental Impact Manifestation has been submitted to Environmental Impact Evaluation Proceedings (PEIA) on April 2. PEIA has 60 days to emit a verdict, or longer if it requires additional information to make its decision. Semarnat guaranteed one by mid-June.

The “Cozumel issue”—the original opposition to sand extractions in its bank in Punta Norte—was “resolved” after hotel developer Fernando García Zalvidea got pissy about the repercussions of the continued block on this “indispensable” project for all of Quintana Roo and Mexico.

On the other hand, Limón Aguirre said La Ollita is not an option for a sand extraction source, as it holds less than 50% of the necessary amount of sand required.

More info (in Spanish) here.

Oh, the environment always loses when faced with financial gains to be had at its expense. Is beach erosion something so important to fix, environmentally, that extracting sand from another area and thereby affecting an ecosystem is worth the trouble?

YES, say hotel businessmen. DUH.

Oh, sorry. I should’ve known.

At the same time, if these beaches stop looking like the pamphlets promise they do and tourists start flocking elsewhere, these people, locals, won’t be able to feed their families (most people in Mexico are, of course, not rich).

It is complicated.

But can it only be one way or the other? Can’t there be a middle ground, or a way that both parties can win?

There must be. But it’s not worth the money when you can just extract sand from someplace more convenient, and finish it all in time for high season. At least this time.

* yes, I think the swine flu pandemic is BS. Really, read this article!! Think critically and deconstruct fear.mongering!


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