South of Mérida ‘breathes’ poverty; Renán Barrera builds only 2 out of 10 works in this area 


Mérida, in the hands of the National Action Party (PAN), and in the last almost nine years, Mayor Renán Barrera Concha, exhibits a double face: from opulence to deprivation: 81 percent of the works have been done in the North part of the city and in the South, barely 19 percent. 

This disparity and contradiction lead Mérida on the same course as a separate, fragmented, meaningless city; “It’s like giving a seriously ill person an aspirin,” warns the councilor of the National Regeneration Movement Party (Morena), Fernando Alcocer Ávila, who is an urban architect planner by profession. In the North the “boom” of growth is observed, with wide illuminated avenues, with luxury buildings of various levels, large shopping malls, medical care centers and even the construction of the first skyscraper in the Southeast of the country. 

Observed from the roof of one of the most recently built hotels, “modern” Mérida looks impressive: large apartment towers can be seen in the distance, others are in the process of being built, a little further on, an immense luxury plaza, intense traffic to connect to the ring road, one of the deadliest and most dangerous roads in the country. 

In contrast, on the other side of the airport wall, in the “Deep South”, poverty can be seen and breathed: the clothes of the families hanging on the albarrada, on the walls, gloomy streets, potholes, houses that were left as if stagnant in the time. People, both dynamic and enterprising, with food stalls in front of their humble houses, “corner shops”, few avenues, unpaved streets… practically an abandoned area. 

No sustainable planning 

The councilor explains that there has not been a comprehensive urban development program in the Yucatecan capital since 1993; This has led to the lack of a clear vision on how to rebuild and reorganize the city in a sustainable manner. 

He urges designing and implementing a rational strategy to intervene in the vehicular flow on the main roads, promoting alternative modes of transport such as public, bicycle and walking. 

He pointed out that the participation of expert professionals in urban design and planning is required, which is not available. The actions carried out so far are isolated and lacking in a long-term vision. While the city deteriorates, only “aspirin” is applied as a patch, but the root causes are not attacked. 

Regarding the current mobility program, Alcocer stated that it lacks vision, clear objectives and measurement of results. “Unfortunately, after years without conscious urban planning in Mérida, we now face the consequences in the form of traffic chaos that seems to be increasing.” 

The rigid separation of housing uses has caused serious mobility conflicts, since people live far from their schools, jobs, supply centers, and recreation. This generates the need to travel long distances to satisfy daily needs. 

There is no project that integrates the city harmoniously. Due to political interests, about 81 percent of the works are applied in the northern residential areas, while only 19 percent are invested in the marginalized areas of the south. It is necessary to prioritize works and services with an overall vision. 

The Municipal Planning Institute must resume its powers to design a hierarchical and integrated road network, with efficient options for public transport and active mobility such as bicycles. The City Council has the powers to implement this type of project and structure a more functional city. 

Currently, Mérida lacks routes, circuits and integrated urban sub-centers, which makes mobility extremely difficult. The lack of mixed land uses also contributes to the problem, because it generates unnecessary displacements. The fact that many families have several cars has aggravated the traffic chaos. 

He pointed out that it is urgent to plan and manage the growth of Mérida in a sustainable manner. More housing is built than is required by demographic dynamics, and this causes unemployment and speculation. 

In addition, there is a lack of green areas and quality public spaces. The policies applied in recent decades in the most important city of the State have led to an irrational densification. A comprehensive vision and determined actions are required to reverse this situation and guarantee a better quality of life. 

  Source: Por Esto