Cuba to send Mexico rocks and documents

MEXICO CITY (AP) – After sparking controversy by hiring hundreds of Cuban doctors, Mexico’s president appeared poised Friday to anger critics again by announcing plans to buy crushed rock ballast for a tourist train project from Cuba.

Many people in Mexico already have doubts about President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Maya Train project. There are questions about its environmental impact and uncertain demand for rail service.

But López Obrador also faces a huge logistical challenge in his rush to finish the train within a year. Millions of tons of ballast are required to stabilize the railroad ties, but there is no suitable rock for hundreds of miles. Most of it must be trucked in from the Gulf Coast, about 550 miles (900 km) away.

López Obrador said the crushed rock could be shipped in larger quantities from Cuba, but said he knew that would spark criticism.

“I will say something for our opponents to question us,” López Obrador said. Pointing to a map of Cuba, he said, “It’s very possible for this stretch to bring ballast from here.”

Even then, ships carrying Cuban ballast would have to land at the port of Sisal, on the other side of the Yucatan Peninsula, and be trucked some 180 miles (300 km) to some train yards.

There is a private Caribbean coast freight terminal in Playa del Carmen – right on the proposed rail line – that could handle Cuban shipments, but López Obrador cannot use that terminal because he ordered the US company that operates it to be closed. own.

“This (port) would be ideal, it’s deep enough, but relations are not good” with the company, López Obrador admitted.

In May, the Department of the Environment shut down the limestone quarry owned by Alabama-based company Vulcan Materials, including the dock.

López Obrador wants the waterlogged quarry to be used as a theme park to compete with the nearby XCaret park. He also wants Vulcan to build a cruise ship dock at the cargo terminal. He has pressured the Alabama-based aggregates company to sell the property to the government or open a water park himself.

The water park idea is almost certainly non-original. The waterlogged sections of the quarry, while looking attractive, are inhabited by crocodiles.

The 950-mile (1,500-kilometer) Maya Train Line is intended to run a rough loop around the Yucatan Peninsula, connecting seaside resorts and archaeological sites.

López Obrador is touting the train as a way to bring some of Cancun’s huge tourism income to inland communities that haven’t shared the wealth. But there are no reliable feasibility studies to show that tourists will actually want to use the train.

In addition, without prior environmental study, the president decided to cut down a zone of low jungle between the resorts of Cancun and Tulum.

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