Take Care – Short Update on La Costa Michoacana.
Exactly one year ago, I wrote a post on the Michoacán coast. In this post, I extolled the wild beauty of the coast, its pristine beaches and lack of conventional tourist development. The coast has always had a reputation for danger – and it is still advisable not to travel at night – as there is a lot of narcotraficante activity in the area but generally it is believed to have got much safer in recent years.
Last summer a conflict surfaced over land between the indigenous communities of Santa María de Ostula, Coire and Pómaro and the townspeople of La Placita, around the 185 km mark on the main coastal highway. The situation rapidly became violent, tense and complicated. I wrote about this situation in my blog, but as my blog then became implicated in the conflict, I decided to withdraw the blog post, and the many comments it had generated, that related to the conflict.
One of the actions the indigenous people had taken was to block the main coast road at two strategic points heading south from La Placita. In this period of a few weeks whilst the road was blocked, two women – not Mexicans – were travelling north along the coast and suddenly, without warning, came across one of these road-blocks with armed men guarding it. Believing they were going to be robbed, they turned around and tried to escape back the way they had come from. Shots were fired at the car, aimed at the petrol tank as can be seen in the two photos, and the car was chased and eventually stopped. Fortunately no-one was seriously hurt but the experience was obviously very frightening for the two women
I am writing this now to warn people that the situation in this part of the coast has become tense again. It seems two regidores (elected officials) from the indigenous communities based in the Municipality of Aquila were kidnapped last week, and I was told that it was possible the coast road could be blocked again. I was due to attend an event on the coast last Saturday but because of the difficulties the event was postponed.
Whilst I don’t like to feed the idea that Mexico is a difficult, dangerous, violent place, it is best not to travel in this area whilst this situation persists and if you are have to travel along the coast take extreme care.
When I have more information, I will update this further.