The Highway to Oaxaca Progresses

Photos: Ernesto J. Torres

The 104 km toll road will connect highway 200 at Ventanilla, Colotepec to highway 175 at Barranca Larga, Ejutla, cutting the travel time from Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca to under three hours. Construction began in 2007, but there were years in which no work was done at all, as the first contractor went bankrupt with the international financial crisis, and the second also faced insolvency for reasons unrelated to the highway. Now the project is in the hands of Banobras, the federal infrastructure development bank, which has contracted out the construction to various builders. Throughout the years the project has suffered many delays because of conflicts between the communities along the route.

CONSTRUCTION ON THE SAN SEBASTIAN TUNNEL stopped for a week and a half in August when workers thought they had struck gold. Samples were sent to a laboratory and it turned out to be pyrite (fool’s gold). In Oaxaca it’s referred to as el oro de los pobres (poor people’s gold), Nonetheless, one wonders if the throughway that will connect Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca isn’t worth its weight in gold, or precisely how much gold it’s worth? And if there were a gold mine, surely some kind of highway would need to be built to bring the ore out of the mountains

Last November, there was a more serious shut down of the 13 km stretch that runs through San Vicente Coatlán. This part of the highway is mostly completed; the problem was a long-standing conflict between San Vicente and Sola de Vega over border land far from the road. In 2003, the dispute over 20,000 hectares was settled by the court in favor of Sola de Vega, but San Vicente has never accepted this decision. So it seemed like a good idea to hold the highway construction hostage. President López Obrador came and met with representatives of both communities; then he left it to Governor Murat to reach a settlement, and work on the highway resumed. In September, when talks between the two communities had stalled, San Vicente Coatlán closed its part of the highway again.

This year the President said that the highway would be finished by December, 2022. The Governor, not to be outdone, gave the end date as November. If all goes well (a big if ), it might actually be completed sometime in 2023. (After I visited the entire construction in January, 2022, I predicted on these pages that work would be done by the end of the year.)

San Pablo, Coatlán.
San Pablo, Coatlán.

View of Barra de Colotepec in ultralight flight.

VP35 Contents