In 2023, the Mayan community of Homún, Yucatán, Mexico and the organization Kana’an Ts’onot (Guardians of the Cenotes) – a Mayan collective from the community of Homún in Yucatan, Mexico – filed an injunction in federal court seeking “the protection and recognition of the cenotes as a subject of law, in order to protect, with the highest standards, their right to a healthy environment, their self-determination and the protection of their cultural legacy” (1).
Determining “cenotes as subject of rights and the members of the mayan community as their guardians, a situation that implies moving from a merely anthropocentric vison, where nature is at the service of human beings, to an ecocentric one, where the concept of dignity recognized to people must be extended to various natural elements” (2).
The injunction follows over a year of requests by the community of Homún for the Mexican and Yucatán government to halt intensive large-scale infrastructure, real estate, agriculture, and other extractive mega-projects that have caused irreversible damage to the aquifer of the Yucatan peninsula, and “thus affecting the fundamental rights of the Mayan people and the equilibrium of the territories they inhabit” (1). These projects – including the highly controversial “Tren Maya” – have proceeded without Free Prior and Informed Consent—as outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007, of which Mexico voted for. Mexico also is a signatory to the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (ILO Convention 169), and lists protections for Indigenous Peoples in its constitution. The injunciton explains that these projects “generate negative socioecological impacts on the bicultural heritage represented by the [Ring of Centoes geological reserve]” and pose a threat to the Ring of Cenotes, as well as the Mayan communities that have “rights to the natural resources of the area [and] ancestral guardianship over the cenotes” (2-3).
The court admitted the lawsuit and granted a provisional suspicion while it decides whether it will become permanent.