Monday, July 15, 2024

Coastal highway closed by flare-up of territorial dispute in Oaxaca

A decades-old territorial dispute has flared up in the city of Puerto Escondido, halting traffic on the coastal highway, the main arterial route on the state’s coast.

As with most of the state’s disputes over land — and there are hundreds, the protagonists are two neighboring municipalities fighting over land, in this case the jewel in the crown that is Puerto Escondido, a popular tourism and surfing destination.

On Friday, the mayor of Santa María Colotepec issued a declaration of war and installed a protest camp on Highway 200 at the city’s chief intersection.

“We are not going to give up even a centimeter of our land [and] we’re not going to allow the continuing harassment on the part of [San Pedro] Mixtepec … from here we say to the state government and the agrarian court that we don’t want rulings that have been paid for that put at risk the stability of the port,” declared Carmelo Cruz Mendoza according to a report by the newspaper El Imparcial.

The mayor warned that the blockade would remain until Governor Alejandro Murat Hinojosa and agrarian officials hear their concerns.

According to other officials in Colotepec, their counterparts in Mixtepec have “cunningly” engaged in attempting to influence agrarian officials in favor of the latter municipality, a process that began when lawyers for Mixtepec presented a constitutional argument before the agrarian court in 2018.

Colotepec officials accused both agrarian and state officials of colluding with “the criminal” Fredy Gil, mayor of San Pedro Mixtepec.

The highway blockade remained in place Saturday afternoon but there was a report that Governor Murat had arrived in the city to address the situation.

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