RAFAEL MARÍN MOLLINEDO

Mexico 2021 | TRANSPORT & SECURITY | INTERVIEW

The industrial development of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec will go hand in hand with the advancement of many other activities on the isthmus such as SMEs and agriculture.

Rafael Marín Mollinedo
BIOGRAPHY

Rafael Marín Mollinedo, General Director of the Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, has a degree in economics from the faculty of economics of UNAM. Throughout his professional career, he has collaborated in various agencies of the federal public administration such as the Secretariat of Programming and Budget, the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, and Petróleos Mexicanos, as well as in the Federal Authority for the Development of Special Economic Zones, in which he served as owner. He has also collaborated in the federal district government as general director of the passenger transport network and general director of urban services. He founded and directs the perishables and processed foods trading firm Tabana Banana, S.A.

The multimodal corridor is one of the priority projects of the government; what advancements have been made so far?

This project was already in existence but was halted. This project was inaugurated in 1907, but when the Panama Canal entered into operation, the corridor in the isthmus lost importance. We will use the existing infrastructure from the isthmus of Tehuantepec to make the crossing from the Atlantic to the Pacific. We launched a bidding process for the railways, and some companies are already working on the project and rebuilding the railroads. We expect to complete the first stage to revamp the rail tracks in September 2021. Meanwhile, we are working on investing in the ports so that they are ready once the railroad is prepared. This port infrastructure will help to unload containers from vessels and onto trains. At the same time, we are working on the acquisition of plots of land where 10 industrial parks will be part of a development hub for wellbeing and social welfare projects. We will set up 10 industrial marks in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and already have seven. Once everything is done, we will launch a bidding process for four of them that are located on government land. The other plots are under an Ejido communal land framework, so it takes longer to close the process to launch a public tender for the industrial projects.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you have faced?

We are working in an area that is extremely poor, and when we arrived the people in the area sought our cooperation to resolve some of their problems. We listened their concerns and reached some good agreements with them. The entire population of the isthmus supports this project, though it is requiring us to pay attention to some of the current social disadvantages and fulfill some of the promises made to them in the past. We have met with the locals, and they are extremely supportive of our initiative. We have the social support of many of these communities, which is essential for us. We also put the project to a public vote, and the indigenous communities endorsed the initiative. That is extremely important for us.

What has the reception to the project been from the business community?

We have worked with the chambers and business associations of the country, and they are extremely interested in the project. Many want to see and learn from the project and determine if they can participate. We also have publicized the project at several international public forums, and some international players have expressed an interest. We have issued several bidding processes for industrial parks across the country, and developers are interested in participating. The US embassy has been extremely supportive as well. Once we have the plots of land, we will conduct a more intensive campaign to attract companies to the isthmus. With the entire process, we expect to receive MXN300 billion in investment as a whole. That includes private and public investment. Once the parks are well established, then additional investments could arrive.

What is the long-term vision of the project?

We are not just investing in the industrial development of the isthmus. This infrastructure and parks go hand in hand with the development of other activities on the isthmus. We want fishing, SMEs, agriculture, and cooperatives, among many other sectors, to develop. We want to develop this region, which has been left behind. We are developing some social development plans to support education for citizens, as well as the existing health infrastructure. We want this development to be balanced. The main project is the infrastructure to bring vessels, then industries, and then focus on the other activities.