I was born in Mexico City and lived in Puebla for 23 years, now I've been in the US for 6. Since I just found out about this I had to read a few more articles on the web. I'm going to say that I'm somewhat concerned. The media in Mexico have concentrated mostly on the scientific aspects of the telescope and also talked about the benefits it will bring to the community. Examples of these are:
1) In the search of the ideal place to build the telescope it was required to do meteorological studies which can be used to know with detail the water distribution underground of regions such as the state of Puebla. These can have positive repercussions in the use of water in the future.
2)It will be necessary to build a rode or highway that will reach the peak of Sierra Negra, one that will be useful for the population of communities like Texmalaquilla.
3)The construction of the telescope will provide of new jobs, many of them to people who live in close communities to Sierra Negra.
4)The need of high tech communications for the LMT (Large Millimeter Telescope) may lead to the result that close by communities will benefit of a modern phone system, maybe based on fiber optics with access to the Internet.
5)Besides local impact, the LMT has already began the development of microwave laboratories and other type of technologies such as the measurement and production of high precision surfaces.
The high altitude is strong point of Sierra Negra for astronomical purposes but at the same time is a weak point since human work is affected because of the lack of oxygen. It is a sure thing that dorms will be installed at lower altitudes such as it occurs in Mauna Kea, Hawaii. It is probable that the telescope can be remotely operated without the astronomers need to climb higher than 3,000 -3,500 meters.
The media talks about this project as the most important achievement in the scientific history of Latin America and internationally as the biggest instrument of its kind. Last time I've hear a sales pitch like this one I was in high school and they were talking how great NAFTA was going to be. Sold as the first step into becoming a first world country. Now 13 years later we've got a disappearing middle class.
The main source I'm quoting is originally in Spanish http://www.inaoep.mx/~rincon/sierra_negra.html
written in 1997. I did a fast translation of it. As of now 90% of the construction has been completed and should be operational by the first quarter of 2006. I will now try to research what has actually happened and if this telescope has helped Puebla or not. I have relatives still living there and I will ask them what they have heard. I will post any significant findings for those that are interested in any type of followup.