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February 02, 2012

NGO's Send Petition to President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon to Protect Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park

Fay Crevoshay

La Paz, Baja California Sur, February 2, 2012


C. Felipe Calderón Hinojosa

Constitutional President of the Mexican States

Dear Mr. President:

In light of International Wetlands Day, which is celebrate this February 2nd, the signing organizations of this letter wish to call your attention to the importance of preserving one of the most important natural sites in Mexico and the world: the coral reef in Cabo Pulmo Nationa Marine Park, in Baja California Sur, currently threatened by the construction of proposed mega-tourism coastal developments in the region.

This year, “Wetlands and Tourism” is the theme of the celebration, which is connected to the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP11) that will be held in July in Bucharest, Romania.

We consider this very opportune occasion to reiterate our request that you cancel the authorizations granted by the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) to the Cabo Cortés project, owned by the Spanish company Hansa Urbana, due to the grave and irreversible impacts that it would have on Cabo Pulmo’s ecosystem, which is the healthiest marine reserve in the world, a World Heritage site and Ramsar Convention “Wetland of International Importance.”

Since 2008, we have condemned Cabo Cortés’s plan to develop 3,800 hectares of land with the equivalent of 30,000 hotel rooms,–a hotel capacity similar to Cancun—a 490-slip marina, and two golf courses, in addition to infrastructure on sand dunes.

Scientists from Mexico and other countries around the world have warned about the potential risks of Cabo Cortés, bringing them to the attention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in a letter sent on May 23, 2011. In this document they stated that: “The influx of tourism and population growth of a project of this magnitude will bring overwhelming pollution and greater pressure on Cabo Pulmo’s marine and coastal ecosystems. The vulnerability of corals to human activity and pollution is well-documented, as they are sensitive to changes in water quality, salinity, turbidity and temperature. Sand dredging during construction of the marina and breakwater, fertilizers and chemicals used on the golf courses, discharge from the desalination and water treatment plants, and pollution from the marina’s boats and increased human population would dramatically alter the area ecologically. Cabo Cortés’s proposal also includes major infrastructure in sand dunes, which would damage the coastline and result in beach erosion of vital sea turtle nesting sites.”

These alerts resulted in an historic mission this past November, consisting of representatives from UNESCO, the Ramsar Convention and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), who visited Cabo Pulmo to evaluate the potential impacts of said development and to hear the perspective of the communities as well as of civil society organizations and the company, Hansa Urbana. The organizations made a clear call to the mission asking that Cabo Pulmo be added to UNESCO’s “World Heritage in Danger” list and the Montreux Register under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland in danger.

In addition, we believe there is a fundamental cause for alarm about the fact – of which you surely are already aware– that the Caja de Ahorro Mediterráneo (CAM), which owns 30 percent of Hansa Urbana, was taken over and restructured by the Bank of Spain because of poor financial management. In this context, it is your responsibility as Chief of the Mexican State to ensure that investments claiming to promote sustainable and productive development in the country are not ultimately merely speculative projects that impact our natural and social environments.

In reference to the social impacts, we would like to add that fresh water in the state of Baja California Sur is already extremely scarce. Cabo Cortés has concessions for a worrisome quantity of water, equaling the consumption of a city of approximately 82,000 inhabitants. Furthermore, the construction and operation of Cabo Cortés would require a labor force of at least 120,000 people, considering that every hotel room needs four jobs. It is therefore to be expected that the newly created settlements would affect the quality of life in the nearby communities and the coral reef.

Mr. President: As the Representative of the Mexican State it is your responsibility to comply with the country’s international commitments to protect the natural resources of Mexico which are our national heritage, such as Cabo Pulmo. It would be a shame if your government was remembered for having permitted the destruction of one of the most valuable natural sites on the planet.

Therefore, we respectfully ask that before you conclude your administration, you DEFINITIVELY CANCEL the authorizations already granted to Cabo Cortés, in a fragmented and illegal way, and that you help lead the way to a constructive dialogue with the local communities of the East Cape, so that all parties can help foster alternative projects that create an equilibrium between conservation and sustainable development in the region and for its people.

We appreciate your attention and respectfully await your response.

 WiLDCOAST, CEMDA, GREENPEACE, Amigos de Cabo Pulmo, Guadianes del Agua, Coast Keeper