Dragon Mart controversy in Cancún


The corporate entity behind the controversial Dragon Mart commercial complex in Quintana Roo has threatened to sue the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA) unless the organization ceases “defaming” the project, whose construction is planned on 1,386 acres located 7.5 miles south of Cancún’s hotel zone.


According to an article in the January 6 edition of Proceso (El misterioso y voráz dragón de Cancún, Jenaro Villamil), the approved plan includes 3,040 commercial spaces for selling Chinese products, 12 large spaces for restaurants and cafes, 20 storage warehouses of 5,403 square meters each and 722 two-story homes for Chinese workers. The first Dragon Mart was built in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in 2004.

Alejandra Serrano of CEMDA claims “behind Dragon Mart there is also a project for extracting natural resources such as lumber and stone” and she also expresses concern about the project’s lack of transparency. “We [CEMDA] asked the local Environmental Department to call for a public inquiry before the Environmental Impact Demonstration (MIA) was approved in favor of Dragon Mart. They refused, claiming we don’t have a legal interest. This is the first time they have denied us an inquiry.”

Mexican industry is also concerned about the arrival of huge quantities of Chinese products. “All we ask…is that this project be reviewed to make sure the competition is fair and does not involve any illegal subsidies of products…and that it doesn’t affect national commercial industry,” says Jorge Dávila Flores, president of the Confederation of National Associations of Commerce, Services and Tourism (Concanaco – Servytur).

Proponents of Dragon Mart Cancún assert that it will be the single largest capital investment ever made in Quintana Roo, that it will promote trade between China and Mexico and be a tremendous boon for real estate in the area with the influx of thousands of new Chinese immigrants.


According to a January 16 article in El Universal (Abogados ambientales demandan por Dragon Mart, Adriana Varillas), the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA) has filed a lawsuit seeking annulment of the Demonstration of Environmental Impact (MIA) approved by the government of Quintana Roo. CEMDA contends that not only were rights of access to information and citizen participation violated, but that the state’s Institute of Environmental Risk and Impact (INIRA) issued authorization without adhering to the Program of Local Ecological Legislation (POEL), which has been in effect since 2005 in the municipality where the project is located.