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Unusual rock formations are the attraction at Hierve el Agua. Unusual rock formations are the attraction at Hierve el Agua.

Residents close Oaxaca tourist destination, claiming only outsiders benefit

At Hierve el Agua, community 'remains mired in poverty'

Community landowners in San Lorenzo Albarradas, Oaxaca, have announced the closure of the Hierve el Agua tourist attraction because the revenue it generates hasn’t benefited the local area.

A lawyer for the landowners told a press conference Wednesday that access to the site, which includes natural rock pools and a petrified waterfall, will be closed to both tour groups and visitors who arrive independently.

Eder Salinas Cortés said that local residents have fought for 18 years against political groups and tourism companies that benefit financially from the site, located about 70 kilometers southeast of Oaxaca city.

“It’s political groups and tourism companies that receive all the royalties … and the community remains mired in poverty; there are no roads, no schools, no drinking water. The situation is alarming,” he said.

“The people are tired, this [press] conference is to advise domestic and foreign tourists that [Hierve el Agua] will be closed. Don’t let yourself be fooled because nobody … will be allowed to enter,” said a representative for the residents.

Rock formations look like waterfalls at the Oaxaca tourist attraction.
Rock formations look like waterfalls at the Oaxaca tourist attraction.

Salinas said Governor Alejandro Murat, who has been in office for more than four years, made a promise while on the campaign trail in 2016 to address the tourism revenue issue if elected.

“I think he forgot or who knows what happened,” he said, adding that other government officials have also failed to respond to requests for meetings.

Salinas said that cronyism and political protection has allowed political parties and political figures to benefit from the Hierve el Agua site. Among the beneficiaries he cited were the Social Democratic Party and Jorge Vargas Franco, a former secretary general of the Oaxaca government.

“… In the end they have prevented the population from receiving the benefits,” Salinas said.

The Hierve el Agua site generates about 2 million pesos (US $96,000) per month in revenue, according to landowners, but none of that money is spent in the local area.

“We’re asking for an apology, … it’s not fair that about 2 million pesos a month that could be used to pave streets or help the community is used to enrich politicians and fund political campaigns,” Salinas said.

Landowners said the situation could lead to violence. “Any … act of violence there is, we will blame the state governor, Alejandro Ismael Murat,” they said.

Source: Infobae (sp) 

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