What Military Control of the Mayan Train Means for Mexico

Credit: Geocomunes.org

The Tren Maya (Mayan Train) will be operated and controlled by the Mexican military, while proceeds from its operations will go directly to its coffers, bypassing the finance ministry, revealed a top Mexican official in an interview to El Financiero.

Rogelio Jiménez Pons, director of the National Tourism Promotion Fund (Fonatur) in charge of the project, detailed the entirety of the train in the Yucatan Peninsula would be property of the National Defense Secreteriat (Sedena); initially, only three of seven sections of the infrastructure project would be under military control. Additionally, all profits from the transport of passengers and cargo will fund military pensions, until now administered by the Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit (SCHP).

Jiménez Pons explained the government’s rationale: “It’s a perfect reward for the armed forces. If we have a nationalist long-term vision of property, that this is a business, but for the state, we will try to make it a business to benefit the most Mexicans possible. Who better than the Army to take charge of this enterprise? It guarantees us many things, in particular, that it is not privatized.”

The announcement has been met with widespread criticism. These are reactions from across the political spectrum.

Some criticism reflects skepticism of military accountability and opposition to further militarization of the country, while others merely reproduce moralistic and opportunistic outrage so adroitly leveraged and manipulated by the political opposition. However, beyond the monotonous black-and-white narrative of AMLO’s megaprojects adopted by both right and left-wing critics, there is a critical political and institutional reality that cannot be ignored.

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Reporter and political consultant based in Northern Mexico and the US Southwest