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Resolve land conflict, president says, or highway will be rerouted

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Resolve land conflict, president says, or highway will be rerouted
President López Obrador, right, and Governor Jara in Oaxaca on the weekend.

President López Obrador has given two mountain municipalities a month to resolve a territorial conflict to allow completion of the Puerto Escondido-Oaxaca highway. And if San Vicente Coatlán and Villa Sola de Vega cannot reach an agreement the highway will be rerouted.

The president visited Oaxaca on the weekend, taking the time to set up yet another negotiation table in hopes of concluding the long-awaited highway the capital and the coast.

The president was joined by fellow Morena party member Governor Salomón Jara in a meeting with municipal and agrarian authorities from San Vicente Coatlán, the most recent dissatisfied party in a decades-long territorial conflict with the neighboring municipality of Sola de Vega. 

Last year and through a series of protests and blockades, San Vicente Coatlán suspended all work on the highway, accusing past state and federal administrations of “lacking will” to put an end to the conflict over 19,600 hectares of land. 

At the meeting, Coatlán authorities headed by Mayor Luciano Osorio Ruiz and by communal assets commissioner Tomás Hernández Osorio delivered a proposal to divide the disputed territory evenly among each municipality. 

López Obrador proposed that the Coatlán delegation allow work to continue at the highway construction site, while at the same time offering to deliver their proposal to their counterparts in Sola de Vega, allowing communication and conciliation to carry on between both parties. 

The president instructed Jara to set up a negotiation table in order to obtain Sola de Vega’s response as soon as possible. 

The president stressed that work on the highway must continue in order to finish it in the scheduled time. The latest schedule calls for completion by June.

López Obrador warned that if Coatlán continues to be an obstacle in the completion of the new road, he would instruct the Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation to alter the original plan and look for a new route. 

The president wrote later on Twitter that both parties had one month to reach an agreement before his administration decides to put the road elsewhere. 

Jara told the Coatlán representatives that the president wants Oaxaca to advance because the state cannot continue living in poverty and marginalization.

The governor remarked that the conclusion of the Puerto Escondido-Oaxaca highway will offer better connectivity and, above all, the opportunity for a better life. For that reason, he told Coatlán authorities, their support is needed to finish the highway. 

With reports by La Onda Oaxaca

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