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06/15/2012

Huge Baja project gets the axe

President Felipe Calderon has put the kibosh on a giant condo/hotel project in Baja California that could have rivaled Cancun in size.

The project, Cabo Cortes, was to be near the tip of Baja California and adjacent to the largest and northernmost coral reef system in Mexico.

The cancellation of the project is a reprieve to the marine park, known as Cabo Pulmo, which over the past decade has recovered from overfishing to become an example of how marine environments can come back to health.

The villagers of Cabo Pulmo, who fought hard against the development, may have the European financial crisis to thank for the suspension. The Spanish developer, Hansa Baja Developments, owes big time to Spanish banks, one of which was taken over by the Spanish government. Needless to say, Spain doesn’t have money to be throwing at major tourism projects overseas, especially ones that critics like Greenpeace say is damaging to the environment.

Read here for a story I did after visiting Cabo Pulmo last summer, and here and here for stories by my colleagues from other media.

In its statement, Calderon’s office said that it has become clear that “the project has not yet demonstrated its sustainability clearly and without question, particularly since the area is so important to the Gulf of California, Mexico and the world.”

The environmental and natural resources secretariat under Calderon had drawn withering criticism from foreign scientists for giving an initial green light to the project. And Greenpeace Mexico has basically suggested that payoffs may have led the secretariat to let the project continue until today, approving it at two levels.

In a tweet, Greenpeace demanded "punishment for the functionaries that approved this project twice."

To read more reaction to the cancellation, largely in Spanish, follow the hashtag #cabopulmo on Twitter.

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Photo by Tim Johnson

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Serenity Escapes

this makes my day!!...alright!....the fed government did the right thing!!!....not only was this an ecological disaster, it was also shadily financed...

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Tim

This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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