Bids on highway from Silao to San Miguel suspended
By Jesús Ibarra
About 25 indigenous communities in San Miguel de Allende, after months of protest and struggle to protect their heritage, obtained a temporary suspension of the bidding process for the highway from Silao to San Miguel de Allende. The project, residents believe, would harm the tangible and intangible heritage of these communities. This was stated by Eduardo Iglesias Bálsamo, counsel for the victims. According to the newspaper La Jornada, an order was issued by the Second District Court to the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation to temporarily suspend the process. The order was the result of an injunction requested in support of the Otomí residents of these communities.
Supported by activists from various civic organizations, the Otomí communities came together to ask the state government to change the route, because the planned road would irreversibly damage the architectural, religious, environmental and cultural heritage of the people that led to the founding of San Miguel. Activists have said, “We are not against the highway, but we are against the route” (see Atención, August 23, 2013). On July 26, Magdaleno Ramírez, president of the State Council of Indigenous People, presented a legal protection against the proposed path of the highway, and on September 6 a federal judge ordered a stay of the bidding process.
Iglesias said the residents of the communities, activists, historians and archaeologists hope that next week the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) will have an assessment of the effects the project would have on the archaeological sites in the region. He said the new report should be comprehensive, because the work would damage not only the archaeological sites but also the traditions, customs and sacred sites of the Otomí people as well as the natural landscape, haciendas and over 100 Indians’ chapels that are in the area and would separate the Shrine of Atotonilco from San Miguel de Allende, declared jointly by UNESCO as World Heritage sites for their historic and religious connections.