The Mixe region of Oaxaca, where a water source is disputed. The Mixe region of Oaxaca, where a water source is disputed.

Narcos’ irrigation needs behind Oaxaca territorial dispute?

Community accuses neighbor of ceding control of spring for irrigating poppies

A community in Oaxaca has accused a neighboring town of ceding control of the only spring in the area to a drug trafficking organization.

The municipalities of San Pablo Ayutla and Tamazulapam del Espíritu Santo in the Mixe region of the state have disputed the boundaries of their communities for 50 years, fighting over 3,600 hectares of land between them, on which there is only one spring.

Authorities from Tamazulapam say that according to their documentation the spring belongs to them, but residents of the neighboring town beg to differ.

However, a representative of the communal landowners of San Pablo Ayutla, Joaquín Galván, rejects the idea that the dispute is territorial, claiming that the problem now is that Tamazulapam has given narco-traffickers exclusive access to the spring in order to irrigate their opium poppies.

Galván asserts that the criminal organization has made a base in Tamazulapam and has infiltrated the municipal council and the communal lands office.

He added that he has proof of the cultivation and production of poppies in the region, and has brought the matter before the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena).

Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat reiterated his promise to resolve the problem with dialogue. He said that discussion tables remain open despite the instability caused by the positions the towns have taken.

He added that Tamazulapam has reneged on three of the 62 accords it has signed with San Pablo Ayutla.

The government’s intention is to install 600 kilometers of water line to reconnect the water via a gravity-fed system from the spring to Ayutla, but Tamazulapam is demanding the return of 25 plots of land and that the reconnection of water be done with a pumping system.

A district judge recently granted a permanent suspension of the reconnection on the grounds that it would put Ayutla at risk of further dispossession of its land. Tamazulapam now wants 200 more hectares of land from its neighbor.

The stage appears set for the dispute to continue for another 50 years.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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