Blockade, weather closes highway to Puerto

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Two highways linking Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca city have been subject to closures during the last week, for the usual reasons.

Residents of San José del Pacífico, located in the municipality of San Mateo Río Hondo, have been maintaining a blockade on federal Highway 175 in a dispute over the spending of public funds, while a washed-out bridge on Highway 131 near Sola de Vega has been affecting traffic since August 26.

The protesters in San José are calling for the removal of the mayor and a senior municipal official and demanding that the process for receiving resources, including 20 million pesos granted by the federal government as part of the support for victims of Hurricane Agatha, be made more transparent.

The closure of the highway was carried out intermittently for several days starting last Tuesday, and shut down completely on Thursday according to NVI Noticias. Local residents want to know the whereabouts of 30 million pesos provided by the state for public works projects and have accused the mayor of corruption.

Some progress toward resolving the situation was made during the week through a meeting with state and federal officials, who agreed to conduct audits to determine how the money has been spent.

Progress has also been made to bridge repairs on Highway 131 in Sola de Vega but heavy rain late last week caused damage to a provisional crossing of the river at El Trapiche.

The highway has long been the worst of the two links between Puerto and Oaxaca city but for drivers who are familiar with the route — and barring complications such as washouts and protest blockades — it can be completed in as little as five hours. That figure will be halved if and when the new highway is completed. It was scheduled for completion in August but that now represents another failed target date, one of many over the years.


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