Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Chiapas disaster zone deprived of wealth it generates

An article in last Saturday's Jornada, the national left leaning PRD-supporting paper, commented on the tragedy in Juan de Grijalva in Chipas, where 25 villagers were killed by a landslide, highlighting the poverty in an area which generates energy and petrol but which doesn't benefit from its natural resources.
Ostuacan is the main town in the Ostuacan municipality, where JdeG is also located, but Ostuacan has an irregular supply of electricity. According to a local doctor the town was only granted a constant supply of electricity a day before the arrival of President Calderon and Chiapas governor Juan Sabines Guerrero in the area.
A transformer in the town burnt out 2 months ago but despite repeated calls to the national power company it wasn't fixed, leading to blackouts in 2 blocks. When there is light wind or rain the lights go out for 10-15 days although there is a hydroelectric dam 26km away.
There are 40 oil wells in the municipality but to get petrol the residents must travel to a neighbouring municipality 60km away along a narrow road that suffers landslides. Those who try to sell petrol in Ostuacan are threatened by the local cops.
Meanwhile in the capital of Tabasco, Villahermosa many streets are still filled with furniture and household goods destroyed by the floods and thousands are still waiting to be vacinated - nothing like the scale of Bangladesh but a country with the natural resources of Mexico could be expected to be capable of organising rubbish collection and the provision of vaccines.
The film about the electoral fraud last year came out at the weekend, imaginatively entitled 'Fraude 2006' and cinemas were packed out all over the country and in some places where it wasn't put on people protested. In Oaxaca the out of town multiplex where I saw the film on Sunday night was full. The multiplex is in a huge shopping complex of US chains which 10 years ago were fields. The film is more blatantly pro-PRD than 'Fahrenheit 9/11' was pro-Democrat, only 'Fraude 2006' has come out after the elections not before. There are numerous interviews with the PRD leader AMLO, Lopez Obrador, and footage of the encampment in the Mexico City Zocalo in the summer last year. The encampment was dismantled as the security forces stepped up their presence unlike here in Oaxaca where the barricades lasted until November with their removal requiring Federal Troops and costing the lives of 27. The film also focused on blatant incidents of electoral fraud such as a film crew recording the opening of ballot boxes before the selective recount and some electoral commision recounting some votes which hadn´t been counted correctly. However only a fraction of the votes were recounted - you were left with the feeling that the overwhelming majority voted for AMLO. Somehow although some of the details were revealing the film didn´t leave me with the sense of having learnt anything new.

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