A large crowd gathered Saturday in Puerto Escondido to demand a stop to the development of a tourism project in Punta Colorada, described by many as “the last lung of Puerto Escondido.”
Dressed in white, the demonstrators claimed that the 111-hectare project was an imposition by the state government, as the people of Puerto were not informed or consulted before its announcement.
“We demand a real citizen consultation with Governor Salomón Jara Cruz, and that our voices be respected,” they said.
“There is no [tap] water, there is no drainage, there is no territorial plan, so how are they going to create projects like this, when there is nothing. We demand a true consultation . . . that they inform us what it is about, and we will see what decision to make, but we are not going to allow them to impose anything on us,” said a protester.
Also on the weekend, weather conditions issued a reminder that Puerto Escondido’s infrastructure cannot support the existing population, let alone new developments. A groundswell, or mar de fondo, brought big waves and high tides to the coast, flooding parts of Zicatela Beach and opening up the lagoon at Punta Colorada, site of an over-taxed sewage treatment plant.
A video published by the activist group Salvemos Colorada showed sewage flowing from the lagoon into the sea.
In what was described by protesters as a “closed-door meeting,” high-ranking state officials held a meeting with San Pedro Mixtepec municipal authorities during which they presented a preliminary development project for the 111 hectares of Punta Colorada.
The development plan entails three areas, the protesters said, “one commercial, a hotel and a reserve area with public-private parks, and a residential area.”
It was reportedly emphasized in the meeting that funding for the project would come from public-private participation.
“Today we demonstrate in opposition against this project, shown off [by government officials] even though it is not new. It’s been handled like political loot by recent state governors Diódoro Carrasco, Ulises Ruiz, Gabino Cué, Alejandro Murat and currently Salomón Jara,” continued the protesters, adding that the latter recently presented the project anew, one that “supposedly will benefit the state with employment, tourism and progress, but in the end it is more of the same.”
Chief among the demands issued on Saturday were a comprehensive sanitation plan for Puerto, change of land use to declare Punta Colorada a protected natural area and the presentation of a sustainable development plan for Puerto Escondido.
Added to the concerns over the exploitation of the Punta Colorada lands, activists and residents have expressed their apprehension around the conclusion of the Puerto-Oaxaca highway, which could generate “uncontrolled development” of Puerto Escondido.
With reports by Istmo Press