Kid Environmentalists Derail a $900M Mixed-Use Development in Cancun Mangroves
Ana Campoy - Quartz
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November 15, 2015

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A group of kids in Cancún, one of Mexico’s hottest resort towns, has stopped the razing of dozens of hectares of mangrove forest for a massive development - for now.

On Nov. 4, a judge granted the children’s request to permanently suspend the 69-hectare mixed-use project, but ruled that the children should pay a bond of 21 million pesos (about US$1.2 million) to offset developers’ losses. The group’s attorneys are trying to convince the court that the bond should not apply to minors.

The project, which was started by Mexico’s tourism development agency, has been in the works for more than two decades. Local environmentalists have been fighting it just as long.

But after bulldozers started leveling down trees and chasing crocodiles out of mangrove-covered land to make way for homes, shops, and a grandiose promenade this summer, many more Cancún residents jumped into action.

In September, 113 of their children filed a complaint asking a judge to halt the project’s construction, arguing that they have the constitutional right to a healthy environment.

“If we cut everything down then we’re going to die,” Ana, a four-year-old plaintiff, told Quartz. “Trees help us breathe.”

The tourism development agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but a spokesman told Mexican newspaper El Economista that canceling the project will result in the loss of some $900 million in investment (link in Spanish.) The recent suit is the first filed in Mexico advocating for the collective rights of kids over corporate interests in order to protect the environment, said Carla Gil, the group’s lawyer, in an interview with Quartz.

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