LatinNews Daily - 23 June 2022

In brief: López Obrador goes after US construction firm

*Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has announced that he will present complaints against US construction company, Vulcan Materials, for allegedly causing environmental damage around the coastal resort town of Playa del Carmen, in Quintana Roo state. Speaking at a daily press conference, López Obrador said that “work is already underway” and a complaint would be presented to “international bodies” by the end of the month. Although he did not detail the extent of the perceived damage, López Obrador added that the “studies had all been completed” and the economic impact of the damage amounted to many millions of dollars. The Quintana Roo site, which Vulcan Materials has owned and on which it had carried out quarrying and extraction operations for 30 years, was shut down by the ministry for the environment and natural resources (Semarnat) on 5 May. In response, Vulcan issued a statement saying the shuttering of the site was “illegal” and that it had the necessary permits to operate, having renewed its routine three-year customs permit in March. In April, the Mexican government said that discussions were being held to find another use for the site, however it appears that a failure to reach an agreement has now led to legal action. The case has drawn attention from US politicians, with ten US Republican senators writing to US President Joe Biden in May warning that the “aggression by the Mexican government toward US companies with investments and operations in Mexico” would “undermine the confidence of US businesses in Mexico”.

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