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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Indigenous Land Dispute Leaves 7 Dead and Several Missing in Oaxaca

"Morogris" for Borderland Beat

News of this land dispute has dominated national news since this past weekend. So far, authorities continue to search for residents who are reported as missing and may be dead. 16 members of the Oaxaca Attorney General's Office were "retained" for several hours by armed residents.

An armed dispute between residents of Sola de Vega and Santa María Sola, two municipalities in the Sierra Sur region of Oaxaca, left at least seven people killed and several missing, according to a report from local authorities.

"Five dead are from Santa Maria Sola. There are many more missing. We do not know anything about them, and we continue to wait for authorities to confirm if these missing people are dead", a resident of the area told reporters.

A community leader told reporters that the shootout was due to a land dispute between both towns. Santa Maria Sola has a rural community known as El Guayabo, but some residents of El Guayabo claim their community actually belongs to Sola de Vega. This has caused dispute between both municipalities.

The community leader said on Friday that Santa Maria Sola residents held a meeting and then headed to El Guayabo, where they attacked its inhabitants. Sol de Vega residents soon joined the melee and several people were killed.

The Oaxaca Public Security Secretariat (SSPO) that both municipalities had people hostage, including 16 members of Oaxaca's Attorney General's Office. Many of them have been released following the intervention of more security forces.


Territorial disputes in Oaxaca have cost the lives of hundreds of people in recent years. The Oaxacan government says that there are currently more than 400 unsolved territorial disputes in the state. Most of these disputes are in Central Valley, Mixteca, and Sierra Sur regions.

Over eighty percent of all land in Oaxaca belongs to ejidos, or agrarian communities, and is communally owned. In addition, it is often unclear who owns a parcel of land. The exponential growth of towns have made historical boundaries very difficult to identify.

Efraín Solano Alinarez, head of the organization Unidad, Identidad y Raices de Oaxaca (Unity, Identity and Roots of Oaxaca, or Unir), said in a 2019 interview that Oaxaca is under "permanent conflict" and that resolving the inherent flaws of Mexico's ejido land ownership is crucial to bringing peace to the area.

To solve the conflicts, the Unir chief said, the records of state and federal authorities need to be consulted to determine the rightful owners of disputed land. Solano also said that more resources need to be allocated to mediating disputes.

This recent land conflict occurred in the Sierra Sur region. The region has over 70 municipality, most of them poor and indigenous. 

To oversee that process, he recommended the establishment of a dedicated government group. The Unir chief also said that the presence of foreign companies in parts of Oaxaca, especially the Isthmus of Tehuantepec where several wind farms have been developed, has also raised the ire of landowners and led to conflicts.

Solano added that the federal government’s isthmus trade corridor project, which includes the modernization of the railway between Salina Cruz, Oaxaca and Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, and new mining developments could make existing land conflicts worse or create new ones.

President López Obrador says the trade corridor and other projects such as the Maya Train will bring significant economic and social benefits to the south and southeast.

But Solano warned that “in Oaxaca, the triumph or failure of the president’s social goals will depend on the response he provides to agrarian conflicts.”

Sources: Proceso; Milenio; Informador; El Universal; MND


  1. The Oaxaca/Veracruz border is dangerous right now. ZVE and the CJNG are very active there. Other parts of Oaxaca with less cartel presence are dangerous too because residents are wary of strangers... but its not as bad as Chiapas, where you definitely need a local guide if you want to go deep in those marginalized municipios. My wife and I hired a guide to drive through Chiapas last year. We visited a lot of cool spots, but it would have been impossible without a guide because we passed through several armed civilian "checkpoints". The guide spoke the local dialect.

    -El Choclo

    1. Is it possible to visit the zapatista communities?

    2. are they wary of other mexicans or only foreigners?

    3. @1:40 - Yes, but find a local guide. Call a hotel in the city you'll fly to and ask if they have a local guide. Many hotels can refer you to one. You will absolutely need one if you want to go deep into the Zapatista communities. Guides also know the terrain and how to avoid dangerous posts too.

      @myname11 - Mexicans and foreigners. I'm Mexican. They know right away when someone is not from there. If you don't speak the dialect at the checkpoints or come with a local "guia (guide), you may not be allowed through or they will charge you a big "cuota". Too dangerous otherwise.

      - El Choclo

  2. 16 officials taken hostage? I wonder if the government will press any charges or if they will let this fly to ease the tensions.

    1. AMLO will provide hugs and kisses and promised everything is allright.

    2. It is the government doing this shit to the indigenous people.

  3. Hey MX! This is off-topic but ya'll remember the Spanish reporter who interviewed "El Guero Ranas" in Sinaloa before he died?? The interviewer was just murdered in Africa. RIP -

    1. Thank you!

  4. Like the article said, bring in some government surveyor's with the official plat, go up there and drive some stakes in the ground, but I wouldn't go up there without military support.


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