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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We had one of our more frustrating travel experiences yesterday. Our plan was to drive from San Cristobal de las Casas to a friends casa in Puerto Escondido Oaxaca for a short vacation on the beach. 5 hours into our drive we encountered a bloqueo created by an angry community with some grievance or another against the government. Never found out what their issue was but after 3.5 hours trapped in the bloqueo, we were finally able to back out and drive 5 hours back to San Cristobal. We had our dog with us so it wasn't an option to alter our plans significantly and stay somewhere beside Puerto.

Two months ago on a different road trip we encounter a similar bloqueo near the border with Guatemala by residents who were demanding a new school. Fortunately we were able to drive around this nuisance but it added two hours to our trip.

It seems to me these bloqueos are becoming more frequent and the government seems incapable or unwilling to resolve them. I'm wondering if other people on the forum are experiencing these events. Perhaps they are unique to more impoverished states like Chiapas and Oaxaca. :plane: Perhaps it's time to consider only travel by air.
 

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That part of Mexico has ALWAYS had more problems with the government, the state, etc., than anywhere else so don't expect it to be peaceful all the time. If you read any Mexican news you will always find some kind of "disturbance" there. It is one (if not the) poorest states in Mexico so perhaps that's why there is so much unrest and civil disobedience.
 

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No I do not think there are more bloqueos but they seem to have become more inconvenient. In the last couple of years I got stuck several times having to double back and take another route or stay in a hotel and so on, in the past we just payed to go through.
Northern Chiapas and indigenous areas are pretty bad and so is the Ithmus but yesterday my Oaxaca friends who visited me in Chiapas in May told me the bus got stopped after they left Tuxtla and that it was a scary experience. The community was pretty upset and people had machetes and sticks and demanded money. The bus had to pay not to let anyone come on board and to be able to go through.
Grotton which community was it? I wonder if it is the same one. Do you know what the problem was? If it is the same one maybe flying to the coast unil that community calms down would be the way to go.
There are mosre elections in July so it may be a good thing to stay put unil all elections are over...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
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Grotton which community was it? I wonder if it is the same one. Do you know what the problem was? If it is the same one maybe flying to the coast unil that community calms down would be the way to go.
There are mosre elections in July so it may be a good thing to stay put unil all elections are over...
I believe we were in Santa Maria which is about 90 kilometers before Huatulco. The muttering we heard from the local venders was that the local governing authority had stolen a payment that was meant for them and they were going to block the road until the money was returned. We asked if we could make a donation to pass through but they said they weren't accepting money. No threats of violence.
 

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Sounds like if it was in a different place.. My friends told me the trouble was closer to Tuxtla.
I do not know if there are more of thm but they sure are a pain..Sorry you guys had problems especially wih the dog in the car.
 

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In Chiapas it is about politicians making promises to get votes and then forgetting al about it so the various communities go up in arms and block roads to get what was promised to them..
 

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These "bloqueos" are a fairly common political and social tool among indigenous communities in Southern Mexico and Citlali and I have come to anticípate them upon unpredictable (by us) occasion. We find that stoical acceptance while maintaining some personal dignity to be the best way to confront these situations.

We were recently driving from Villahermosa to San Cristóbal (normally about a seven hour drive) when, fairly close to our destination at the small village of Puerto Nuevo we encountered a blockade manned by locals with some sort of grievance and these grievances often appear to outsiders to be somewhat frivolous but blockades of important arteries traversing the towns are often the only recourse for the poor indigenous of these hamlets and blockades can be of significant value to locals.

Well. these guys in Puerto Nuevo were pretty nice and were demanding no money so I proved to them that we lived in San Cristóbal,which was only two hours from Puerto Nuevo and they were sympathetic and expressed their desires to allow us to pass. However, they informed us that there were more blockades down the road toward San Cristóbal and those manning those blockades might be affronted by our presence and wish to harm or even kill us so our solution was simple. We turned around, drove the five hours back to Villahermosa and on to Cardenas Tabasco and then down to Tuxtla Gutiérrez and San Cristóobal completing our already arduous seven hour journey in something like 20 hours. Actually, we would never have driven from Tabasco to San Cristóbal over that Cardenas to Tuxtla route and the road turned out to present lots of spectacular scenery so, despite the inconvenience, the experience was not altogether negative.

I rermember a blockade in a small village in the municipality of Ocosingo when we were driving from San Cristóbal to Palenque and the guys manning the blockade informed us that the new president of the Ocosingo Municipality had promised the village a new basketball court if all eligible voters in the viallge voted for him in the recent election which they did and subsequently, that politician who won the election, reneged on his promise to build that new basketball court so the purpose of the blockade was to raise through tolls the money necessary to build that court or, altenatively, to pressure the Ocosingo Municipality to allocate the funds necessary to build the court as previously promised. This is not untypical of the sorts of methods used to assert power in rural áreas of places such as Chiapas and Oaxaca and if one wishes to live in those places then one must accept that as a way of life or move on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
We found the experience little more than an inconvenience and upon arriving home contemplated this method of protest over a cold beverage. For us a vacation spoiled isn't the end of the world and perhaps next week we will attempt the same trip or perhaps take the plane or night bus to avoid the problem. I wonder how often these bloqueos bring about positive change for the communities employing them as a means of protest. Clearly they are not a solution to the poverty in the communities but perhaps they create a temporary solution for annoyances and frustrations they face as a result of a neglectful government and wretched education system.

Here in San Cristobal de las Casas electricity is much cheaper than in other parts of Mexico as we enjoy a number of government subsidies including one for living in an area near to indigenous communities. I suspect businesses are hesitant to establish commercial facilities here despite cheap energy and promotions by the government because of the frequent bloqueos and the logistical issues they make. There is a general lack of effective and good governance in the area so change does not appear to be on the horizon.
 

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I agree I do not see a solution as politicians are what they are and will forever promise things they will not deliver. I am not sure a night bus would help as my friends were detained on a night bus so if you want to make it for sure you are better off flying (if the highway to the airport is not blocked..of course). The Ithsmus is full of problems as well so nothing is about to change there either.
I agree these bloqueos are a real pain. They are awful in the Simojovel area and there people are really stuck as they are just about at the end of a decent road.. I have a friend who lives there and has a business in San Cristoba, she is forever trying to figure out how to get to meetings in Tuxtla or San Cristobal. She ended getting a place in SC and stays with her family in Tuxtla as she gets stuck in a place or another on a regular basis. It is just awful and costs her lots of time and money but she told me she did not see any light at the end of the tunnel. Everyweek it is a new problem, it is awful as the area is extremely poor and all this bloqueos are hindering business but still everyone seem resigned to it and nothing gets done about keeping the roads open.
 

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One of the problems is that many communities have a high percentage of poverty and extreme poverty and any little change upsets the community. The latest I heard is tat the amber associations are really mad because the Amber fair dates have been pushed back to the begining of August and the convention center is not available to them until then. They say that will cost them a lot of sales, I do not know if it is correct but there are lots of unhappy people in Simojovel now so who knows what they will do if anything.
 
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