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Cablegate: Migration, Violence and Oaxaca,S Economy

VZCZCXRO4389
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #1613/01 1482206
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 272206Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2029

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 001613

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CA EAID ECON MX PGOV PHUM PREF PREL SMIG
SUBJECT: MIGRATION, VIOLENCE AND OAXACA,S ECONOMY
OVERSHADOW 2006 CONFLICT

1. Summary: Concerns about domestic violence, migration and
Oaxaca's failing economy collide in Oaxaca where poloff met
with state government officials, indigenous human rights
organizations and local artisans to discuss current problems
during a recent visit. State government officials were
concerned about the losses Oaxaca has suffered since the 2006
conflict between social groups and security forces but were
quick to assert that the human rights situation has improved.
Already one of Mexico's poorest states, Oaxaca faces an
uphill battle attracting tourists back to the state,
providing its population with quality education and jobs and
better addressing the needs of the indigenous communities.
Drug traffickers who exploit the State's impoverished
conditions to recruit residents as foot soldiers for their
activities also pose an increasingly serious challenge to the
state. End Summary.

--------------------------------
A VICTIM OF ITS PAST AND PRESENT
--------------------------------

2. Oaxaca, located in southern Mexico, is the home to some
16-18 indigenous groups representing some 60-70 percent of
the state's population. Many are unable to read or write in
their own language and suffer exclusion from society because
they do not speak Spanish. Renowned for its celebrated
cultural traditions and a varied assortment of artisan craft,
Oaxaca has long attracted tourists from all over the world.
The state's tourist industry, however, practically dried up
in the wake of a violent political conflict in 2006 between a
burgeoning social movement and security forces. While
government officials insist the violence that dominated
Oaxaca in 2006 is a thing of the past, the frequent
deployments of military forces as part of the federal
government's counter narcotics strategy suggest otherwise and
tourists have been slow to return. In his meeting with
poloff, Hector Anuar Mafud Mafud, President of the Supreme
Court in Oaxaca, maintained that Oaxaca's economy is now
worse than before the conflict, saying that even world-famous
cultural events such as the renowned Guelaguetza festival had
drawn few international visitors last year. The decline in
tourism had impacted all areas of society so much so that
Oaxaca is now the poorest state in Mexico.

3. Oaxaca's PRI Governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, continues to be
dogged by accusations of corruption and human rights abuses
-- and remains the focus of the state's protests. His
handling of the 2006 disturbances left many in the state
disillusioned with politics. In August 2007, Oaxaca held
state legislative elections; 70 percent of the voters
reportedly did not vote, many as an act of protest. In
recent weeks, the media have implicated friends and family
members of the Governor and police officials for their
involvement in the disappearance of two Popular Revolutionary
Army (EPR) members on May 25, 2007 -- although no concrete
evidence has been provided.

--------------------------------------
IMPACT OF MIGRATION TO AND FROM OAXACA
--------------------------------------

4. State officials and NGOS in Oaxaca both agree that
migration is one of the biggest challenges facing the state
today. According to officials, migrants from Central America
are staying in growing in numbers. Many U.S. bound migrants
have decided to settle in the state in recent years, they
said. Oaxacans themselves continue to migrate to the U.S. in
increasing numbers. Indigenous NGOs lament that migration
from Oaxaca has left a strain on an already stagnate economy
and had a social impact in terms of splitting families apart.


5. Government officials say that the biggest challenge to
Oaxaca's economy is creating sufficient jobs for the local
population. Oaxaca's economy is dependent on tourism and
remittances from the U.S. but with the decrease in tourism
during the 2006 conflict, Oaxaca has become increasingly
dependent on remittances. Rosario Villalobos, Deputy
Secretary for Human Rights of the Executive Branch said the
longer migrants stay in the U.S., the less money they send
home, contributing to a further decline in the conditions.
Of course, declining economic conditions in the U.S. have
contributed to a reduction of remittances as well. NGO
representatives say that despite remittances, many families
suffer from the absence of the chief breadwinner and children
are forced to forgo schooling in order to find jobs.

6. Government officials remain focused on immigration reform
in the U.S., which they hoped would facilitate the flow of
temporary workers to the U.S. under better conditions.
Immigration reform they said should assist migrants from
Oaxaca in the U.S. to be in a better position to send

MEXICO 00001613 002 OF 002


remittances, but also return to the state to be with their
families. Officials also took the opportunity to complain to
poloff that the State Department warning about violence in
Oaxaca had hurt tourism and further undermined the state's
economy.

--------------------------
POVERTY SPAWNS SOCIAL ILLS
--------------------------

7. Oaxaca is beset by a number of social ills many deriving
from its impoverished conditions.

-- Domestic violence is a problem throughout Mexico and
Oaxaca has one of the highest incident rates in the country.
NGOs identified domestic violence as one of the greatest
challenges within indigenous communities particularly given
the complexities of the cultures. NGO representatives linked
what they said was widespread alcoholism to domestic violence
within the indigenous communities.

-- NGOs also alleged that girls from the indigenous
communities are sometimes trafficked by their families out of
economic necessity.

-- Several Government officials told poloff that Oaxaca has
the worst educational system in the country remarking that in
many municipalities children have classes only three days a
week, while in others there are no classes. Literacy levels
in the state are actually declining, they said.


8. Comment: Oaxaca's entrenched poverty derives in no small
measure from the complexities within the indigenous
communities. Once a popular destination spot for tourists
around the world, it has not been able to attract tourists
back to the state after the violence that took place in 2006.
The extreme poverty that characterizes much of the state has
led to a number of social ills and contributed to high rates
of migration to the U.S. The Calderon Administration will
face an uphill battle in providing for the kind of security
and economic opportunity the state needs to attract tourism
and generate greater economic growth.
Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
GARZA

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