Date: February 2, 1999
Contact: Dan Evans
Phone: (352) 373-6441
UPDATE! provided by Mary Louise Whitlow
The Mexican authorities seem to be trying to moving ahead with the process of authorizing the construction on X’cacel. A public meeting was held January 27, 1999 in Cancun about the Management Plan for the reserve (from the 60 m in the isobath (ocean) to the 100 yard mark up the beach). At the meeting the director of the University of Quintana Roo (UQROO) stated that an international research center will be placed at X’cacel! The questions scientists and conservationists are asking are, “What will they study?” and “In which hotel room will the research center be in?”!
It is hard to believe that the director of the university is unbiased, after all he works for the governor of the state who is selling the land and also happens to be the governor’s cousin. Many people at the meeting expressed their concern that the 100 meters was not sufficient to protect the sea turtles. All the participants recognized the work done by UQROO but they rejected their conclusions. Because of this a Technical Committee was formed to evaluate the studies in X’cacel; the first meeting will be Feb. 15. Also at this meeting, experts from ECOSUR (El Colegio de la Frontera Sur) stated that the vegetation study done by Ecored (contracted by Sol Melia) for the rest of the area of X’cacel (excluding the reserve) was not complete but they reinforced the study’s recommendation that the area be protected. Score one for our side!
A letter was mailed to President Zedillo on Jan. 8, 1999 from Carl Safina, V.P. for Marine Conservation, National Audubon Society, on behalf of 47 U.S. and Mexican environmental groups, including Caribbean Conservation Corporation, requesting full protection of the X’cacel area.
60,000 postcards were printed in English and Dutch by Milieu Defensie, an Amsterdam affiliate of Friends of the Earth, in December ’98, addressed to President Zedillo, asking for protection of X’cacel.
In February 1998, the fiduciary “Caleta de Xel-ha y del Caribe” (FIDECARIBE) announced that they had letters of intent to buy from Sol Melia and 4 other buyers every inch of X’cacel! They still report that the sales have not been made, but it is very suspicious. The area where Melia plans to build its hotel is mainly tropical low forest, mangrove and coastal dune bush.
X’cacel, along with the adjoining beaches of Aventuras-DIF and Chemuyil, are the most important green and loggerhead nesting beaches in all of Mexico. However, both Aventuras-DIF and Chemuyil have already been sold to developers by FIDECARIBE.
In 1994 the Ecological Group of the Mayab (GEMA) proposed officially incorporating X’cacel into the National System of Protected Areas (SINAP) and completed all of the necessary requirements, however, the National Institute of Ecology (INE) rejected GEMA’s proposal, stating that X’cacel was not unique enough! Based on studies of the area, X’cacel should be considered a very unique area.
Today the only protected area is the zone between the 60 meter isobath and 100 meters up the beach. The rest of the area is being sold to developers, such as the Melia hotel chain, who plan an extensive tourist development.
Please contact the representatives below and let them know you support the protection of this important sea turtle colony.
M. EN C. JULIA CARABIAS LILO (Secretary of the environment, natural resources, and fisheries)
PERIFERICO SUR 4209 6o PISO
COL JARDINES DE LA MONTA-A
MEXICO D. F. 06500
TEL (5) 628-0606 , 628-0607 and 628-0608
FAX (5) 628-0643
PEDRO ALVAREZ ICAZA
DIRECTOR DE ORDENAMIENTO ECOLOGICO E IMPACTO AMBIENTAL
Director of the National Institute of Ecology
MELIA MANAGEMENT FOR AMERICA
MR. EVAGRIO SANCHEZ
1000 BRICKELL AVE, SUITE 500
MIAMI, FL. 33131
FAX: (+1) 305-358-5166
SR. ERNESTO ZEDILLO PONCE DE LEON
PRESIDENCIA DE LA REPUBLICA
RESIDENCIA PRESIDENCIAL DE LOS PINOS
MEXICO D. F.
CONTINENTAL AIRLINES (Travel partners Sol Melia)
Call 1-800-WE CARE 2