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The Swamp of the Bicentennial Freeway

Farmers working a crop that originally would be impacted by the road

Don Mago working, taking a break nearby an archeological site

By Jesús Aguado

When activists and indigenous people found out about the construction of the Bicentennial freeway, they immediately stated that its construction would represent the decadence of the original towns. However, since the very beginning of the project, it was sunk in a swamp of problems.

Now that Guanajuato Governor Diego Sinhue Rodriguez has announced that the federation has released the project to be financed by the public and private sector with 2,500 million pesos, the topic is again on the table.

This week Atención talked with representatives from the Secretariat of Infrastructure and Public Works of the State of Guanajuato. They commented that currently that secretariat does not have information related to the project. On the other hand, the General Coordination of the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation published a “balance” of public works for the state of Guanajuato, and in that document the Bicentennial Freeway is projected for 2019–2020.

Cancer and drawings

On December 2010, then governor Juan Manuel Oliva and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation agreed to license the Bicentennial Freeway and announced that it would have an investment of 2,500 million pesos. The same month the governor said that the new road would have a length of 80 kilometers with two lanes. It would begin in Silao, cross Guanajuato with a junction in Xoconostle, and end up in San Miguel de Allende. Oliva Ramírez announced that the construction of this road would improve the regional development of the industrial corridor and the “triangle of tourism” (Guanajuato–Dolores–San Miguel) would also be improved.

Finally on July 2, 2013, the Secretariat of Communications published an open call for the project’s construction. Then governor Miguel Márquez informed that the decision would be made on September 17 of that year. The construction would begin in January 2014 and would start operations in 2016.

That was when civil organizations, citizens, and civil activists gathered to oppose the drawing that they said would cross indigenous communities and impact archaeological zones and spiritual roads. One of those communities (Cruz del Palmar) would actually be divided in two.

After that, another problem emerged. In Tierra Blanca, researchers detected erionite, a mineral causing lung cancer to the inhabitants of the community that the freeway would cross. They assured that with the excavations the volatile mineral would be breathable and would impact more people, and they categorized the road as a danger to public health. After that finding, a federal judge granted an amparo to temporarily stop the construction.

The drawing as later changed and would not impact the communities, the archaeological zones, or the spiritual roads. All those against the road said yes to this version of the drawing. However, with the new announcement, it is still unknown whether the authorities will respect the drawing the activists want.




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