The invisible Mérida: the other real estate boom south of the capital

El Roble Unión was built by 12 women with the hope of leaving a heritage for their children

In contrast to the real estate and demographic explosion – the real estate boom – that has been witnessed in the Yucatecan capital during the last 15 years, there is another considerably less media-hyped exodus that occurs within its periphery. 

Invasores de Roble Unión pasarán una triste navidad

On rare occasions, a part of Merida is mentioned the “non-existing”, the invisible part; and it is in those confines of the city where thousands of families literally search among the stones for their right to a dignified life, a space in which to live; and opportunities to grow their daughters and sons.

Access to El Roble Unión is bumpy. There is no public transport, and the winding roads that they built themselves are woven parallel to the highways. It was a group of 12 women, all mothers, who organized and built the foundations of what in the future will be the heritage of their descendants. Or at least they still have that hope.

La Jornada Maya

The reddish earth of the improvised arteries rises with each step, dirtying the clotheslines that populate the 11 blocks that comprise this irregular settlement. At the doors of the houses, women and men carry out daily tasks: they wash clothes; dishes; they tend to their children, and on some occasions, they also reprimand them for their behavior.

It is not easy to get to El Roble Unión, by any means. Not even the most popular navigation tools contemplate your list of sites to visit. The compasses seem to break down when immersed in the complex, even though it is within the Merida suburbs. Their existence does not appear in the new applications.

La Jornada Maya | Yucatán

According to the census carried out by the civil group Apoyo Mutuo Mérida, there are 745 people who live in this settlement, of which 276 are under 18 years of age. These figures become evident when girls and boys run between cardboard and canvas houses. When the women go out with their offspring in their arms to receive the visitors.

Like its paths, the path that the settlers of El Roble Unión have traveled has been tortuous. Over the course of almost a year, they had to deal with evictions, police interventions, and some disagreements with those who, like them, were driven by a necessity to look for the future among the stones and branches of the deep south of Mérida.

La Jornada Maya | Yucatán

It has been a relatively short process, but in that period, the settlers of El Roble Unión have managed to structure a form of organization that provides them, in addition to a shelter for their families, the security that characterizes the Yucatecan metropolis; and that its authorities promote with great fanfare.

That same certainty is what has brought families to seek the coveted dignity that emanates from El Roble Unión. 

A real estate boom that does not distinguish between the north and the south; but it is deployed throughout the city; and that as one of the interviewees mentioned, “it has a sun that rises for everyone”. He said that while the star king dazzles his gaze, and tries – unsuccessfully – to cover its rays with his flat hands.


The Yucatan Post