Tens of millions of citizens will vote in Mexico’s biggest ever elections on Sunday but residents of one community in Oaxaca and two municipalities in Chiapas won’t be among them.
In Santa Catarina Yetzelalag, located in Oaxaca’s Sierra Norte region, local authorities decided on Wednesday that they won’t allow polling stations to be set up in the small town.
In a statement directed to President López Obrador, Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat, political parties and the media, local authorities said the decision was made a town meeting because 11 years after more than 100 homes were damaged by Hurricane Karl, the promised aid has still not arrived.
Following the hurricane it was determined that the whole town needed to be relocated due to the risk of landslides. But Santa Catarina Yetzelalag remains where it was and families haven’t received any government support.
“On the eve of what some call the festival of democracy, the residents of Santa Catarina Yetzelalag don’t have anything to celebrate. We’re filled with deep sadness and legitimate and intense anger because we feel used and abandoned by the political parties,” the statement said.
“… The failures of the governments of the left and the right have been constant … at the state and federal level. Taking all these factors into account, the [town] assembly decided to show the same indifference toward the political parties that they have shown toward us,” it said.
The authorities argued that resources dedicated to holding the elections could have been used to relocate the town, where they say the lives of residents are still at risk.
“… We will not be accomplices of our executioners, no solution means no election. For the government, the life of each one of our residents is not worth 3,500 pesos [US $175] but it squanders millions on electoral advertising that will be trash on Monday,” the statement said.
Santa Catarina authorities agreed to block access to the community on Sunday and residents will not be allowed out unless they are attending to an emergency.
Meanwhile, the Chiapas Institute of Elections and Citizen Participation decided to suspend elections in Honduras de la Sierra and Venustiano Carranza due to security concerns.
Honduras de la Sierra became an independent municipality three years ago after separating from Siltepec, and some community landowners are demanding that it be reincorporated, generating concerns that local elections could be marred by violence.
Land disputes plague Venustiano Carranza and two groups of Tzotzil Mayan people were recently involved in a gunfight there. Murders in the municipality have also been linked to conflicts over land.
It will be up to the Chiapas Congress to determine when extraordinary elections can be held safely in the two municipalities.