What happens when Cirque du Soleil comes to town?
In rural Mexico, the answer seems to be: communities lose.
Luxury tourist resorts, such as a Cirque du Soleil theme park, are springing up along the spectacular beaches north of Puerto Vallarta in Mexico’s Nayarit state.
Yet with them come disturbing tales of their impacts on local people, beaches, estuaries and species such as crocodiles.
Glitzy resorts build walls to keep the locals out, and build more walls to protect their investments from the forces of nature.
“Here we’re boxed in … all we see is fences and fences,” one local man told the Christian Science Monitor. He claims he has been threatened for speaking publicly about what is going on.
As the landscape is partitioned by walls, river gravel is mined for resort construction, and artificial lakes are created, degrading traditional uses of rivers, such as fishing.
The Alianza Verde environmental group claims that landscape modification also exacerbates catastrophic flooding threats to nearby villages.
Advocates of development say that impoverished local villages will improve with all the new jobs and increasing funds for infrastructure, and that at least 70 percent of land owned by resorts projects is kept “intact.