Greenpeace has launched a campaign to drum up local opposition to a tourist project in the northwestern Mexican state of Baja California Sur that opponents say will threaten the nearby Cabo Pulmo marine reserve.
The proposed Cabo Cortes mega-project “is an example of what we call predator tourism, which provides short-term benefits to developers without considering the negative environmental, social and economic impact,” Greenpeace oceans and coasts campaign coordinator Alejandro Olivera said in a press conference here Tuesday.
Backers of the campaign include Mexican actors Cecilia Suarez, Diana Bracho, Patricia Llaca, Ana Brenda and Mel Pacheco, musicians Ruben Albarran, Roco Pachukote and Moyenei Valdes, as well as TV host Claudia Lizaldi and TV producer Epigmenio Ibarra.
The goal of the campaign is to secure cancelation - before President Felipe Calderon’s six-year term expires on Dec. 1, 2012 - of an environmental permit issued last March to the local division of Spanish developer Hansa Urbana, Greenpeace representatives said.
The Environment Secretariat approved Cabo Cortes’s environmental impact statement in September 2008.
The development was later temporarily halted when a resident filed a request for a review. Environmental officials gave the go-ahead for the project for the second time on March 1, 2011, but they set certain conditions
Environmentalists say the mega-project, which they compare to Mexico’s large-scale tourist resort of Cancun, will destroy the only coral reef in the Gulf of California.
Cabo Cortes would cover a 3,800-hectare (9,380-acre) expanse and feature a marina with 490 boat slips, two golf courses, seven hotels with 27,000 guestrooms for tourists and 5,000 residences for workers, all within a short distance of the Cabo Pulmo preserve.
The Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park in Baja California Sur state was created by decree on June 6, 1995. It has a marine area of 7,111 hectares (17,550 acres) and boasts the best-preserved coral reef in Mexico’s Pacific region.
In 2005, Cabo Pulmo was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in 2008 it was added to the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
The 20,000-year-old Cabo Pulmo reef, one of the oldest in the American Pacific, is home to 226 of the 875 fish species that inhabit the Gulf of California.
Greenpeace urged Mexicans to cast their “vote” against the project at tables to be installed for three months beginning Sunday in a dozen cities nationwide, or online at salvemoscabopulmo.org.
“Today we’re calling on citizens to make their demands known by voting to preserve Cabo Pulmo,” Greenpeace Mexico executive director Patricia Arendar said.