Parents at a Chiapas highway blockade yesterday. Parents at a Chiapas highway blockade yesterday.

Chiapas protest blocks cruise passengers

Parents demonstrate to press for repairs to schools damaged by earthquake

Highway blockades are a proven method of getting attention for a cause, but one in Chiapas yesterday gained international notice.

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An estimated 1,000 tourists aboard the Holland America cruise ship Eurodam were prevented from touring Tapachula and several tourist destinations when parents shut down highways to protest the slow pace of rebuilding earthquake-damaged schools.

The ship arrived in Puerto Chiapas with 2,075 passengers aboard just as parents decided to pressure authorities so their children can return to school.

They say that most of the region’s schools have been closed since the September 7 earthquake, and that many have yet to be inspected for damage by Civil Protection officials.

Parents also claim that funds have been promised from a schools infrastructure fund called CIEN, rather than the natural disaster fund, Fonden, and the money will be advanced in the form of loans.

They say it’s part of an education reform-related ploy to privatize education.

But the state’s director of education infrastructure assured parents that reconstruction funds would be coming from Fonden and insurance policies on the buildings.

Meanwhile, cruise ship passengers denied access to tourism sites were treated instead to a cultural show including a gastronomical exhibition and an artisanal display in the port precincts.

However, Chiapas tourism spokesman Thomas Hau said it was unfortunate that the visitors were unable to enjoy their tours because of the economic losses it caused.

Tour operator Alexander Fleck estimated those losses to be at least US $500,000. Another worry is that the cruise line will drop Puerto Chiapas as a stop due to security concerns. It was the first time the Eurodam had stopped at the port.

Source: Reforma (sp), NVI Noticias (sp), Diario de Chiapas (sp)

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  • S L Andrew Palms

    Not the best way to protest. The ship may never return.

  • Bonnie G

    This was the stupidest thing these people could have done. They think they are getting attention for their cause, but they are driving off what could be source of wealth for them, their communities and their children. They are so backwards, so ignorant, that they do not understand what they are doing. And, the left wing charities in the area encourage them to confront capitalism, when it is capitalism that will save them. Chiapas is beautiful and worthy of visiting. This was a stupid decision, I wonder what western-financed-socialist-group was behind it?

    • MaNGi

      this is a bit short sighted “wealth” it’s just a boat of people who come and buy a few souvenirs and go back to their boat. Who make money from them? The GOV which don’t want to spend money to rebuild school. I’m not sure they are “so stupid” and more stupid than you in fact.

      • Bonnie G

        This is the way capitalism works. The ship is making its first stop, probably recruited by the Department of Tourism in Chiapas. The ship schedules a tour to local cultural sites, and the people on the tour buy trinkets, food, and the tour director pays a local tour guide to assist with the tourists. Everyone makes money. Pretty soon, more ships, hearing about the great tours in Chiapas schedule a stop as well. Now there is more money in the economy. The locals can upgrade their schools and pay their teachers more. I owned a business and know that customers bring money. What is your business? Your idiotic ideology deprives the poor of what they really need – economic opportunity. There is nothing I detest more than idiots whose ridiculous ideology block the poor from bettering their condition and the prospects of their children. It is the height of racism and patriarchy.

        • Dave Dietrich

          Well said Bonnie. There may be NO ships that return. Tour operators want no part of local politics. They are in the business of making passengers happy, not frustrated.

        • Commander Barkfeather

          Harsh times call for harsh measures. Bonnie, I do not believe it was their intent to disrupt tourists–they were demonstrating their understandable frustration with government relief efforts and it just so happens that was the day the cruise ship got in. While I agree with you that it was economically unfortunate, I must take issue with your world view. Mankind will not be saved by a sale at J.C. Penney’s.

      • If it only affected the specific tourists, it would be one thing, but the publicity is far-reaching and could even result in cruise ships skipping that area or Mexico in general. Bonnie is quite correct.

  • Bunch of nitwits to mess with tourists because it just shoots Mexico in its economic foot.

  • Güerito

    Touring Tapachula??

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