Holbox means 'Black Hole' in Maya language, but on the island everything is illuminated. The ecosystem of this small island located in the natural reserve of Yum Balam, just half an hour boat ride away from the coast of Yucatan in Mexico, is in danger.
There is a project to build a tourist resort complex on an area of 980 hectares, within the natural reserve called l’Ensenada - proposed by a group of Mexican businessmen called ‘Penisola Maya Developments’, that since 2012 is waiting from approval by the Mexican minster of Environment, that will have to evaluate the environmental impact.
There have been many protests by environmental activists however the threat to the protected areas of Mexico is far too strong and hard to stop.
Even the habitants of the Hotbox island - that counts 2000 people on a 50 square kilometers piece of land - have surrounded to the economical offers of the buyers and have sold their land. Some haven’t. And the Ensenada project devided the population of the island. For this reason sometimes the army and the police patrol the area. Their vehicles are the only one accepted on the island, apart from those only golf type electronic vehicles are accepted.
The island is home to engaged species including sea turtles, dolphins and whale sharks, as well as protected plants like the mangrove.
The Ensenada project would not only threaten the biodiversity of the island, but change is face completely. Tourists now leave and arrive at the port of Chiquila, the only residential zone of the island, and walk around most of times shoeless enjoying the ‘hippie’ spirit of the place. Imagining a resort with many swimming pools and a golf area would be surreal (golf court that would need to be watered continuously, stanching sweet water from other parts of the island). A luxury resort, even though build far from the current residential area, would attract completely different tourists to the island, prices would rise and destroy the fascinating in-contaminated atmosphere of the island.
Also his history is peculiar: Holbox was a stop-over for revolutionaries traveling from Mexico to Cuba during the fifties.
Published here and on the paper edition of L'Espresso (Italy).