Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico - The village of Boca de Tomatlán is an oceanfront working-class community comprised of mostly tourism providers and fishermen. It's also the location of a newly constructed regional public health clinic sponsored by the Puerto Vallarta / Santa Barbara Sister Cities Program. But their community has been divided.
In 2019, this village was one of the most severely affected by a series of powerful tropical storms. Serious flooding washed away Boca's wooden suspension bridge, the most important of the town's two bridges. The remaining bridge has suffered irreparable structural damage and is rendered impassible when the river floods. This creates a precarious situation during the rainy season - children cannot get to school, parents cannot get to work, and elderly are stranded without access to medical care. Sometimes clean drinking water is not available to those at the far side of the river during these times.
In most communities important pieces of public infrastructure, such as bridges, would be quickly repaired by the appropriate governmental agency. Boca falls under two municipalities, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo Corrientes, with the river being the dividing line. Sadly, neither municipality has yet stepped up to fulfill their duty to serve and protect the people of Boca.
As no reason for the holdup has been forthcoming from either municipality, many residents believe this delay is a retaliation for the town's opposition to the illegal attempt to dam the Los Horcones river upstream of Boca. Residents were kept completely in the dark about the potential effects of the dam on the local environment, their safety and their livelihoods, as dynamiting and bulldozing continued under protest. Yet they banded together in a series of peaceful demonstrations to halt the destruction of their precious natural resource.
The dam project is now suspended under multiple closure orders (local and federal) and a petition to declare this river canyon as an official Natural Protected Area now has nearly 600,000 signatures. [Click HERE to sign the petition on change.org.]
On January 11, 2020 the Puerto Vallarta community launched their first ever, Festival de Música Los Horcones, to celebrate this unique and important river and build solidarity among the community united in solidarity to defend it. The festival is slated to reoccur on the first Saturday of June.
So while the future of the Río Los Horcones appears more secure, at least for now, the village is still without a dependable bridge. In an admirable show of self-reliance and self-determination, the villagers have committed to rebuilding the bridge through their own volunteer labor. All they lack are sufficient funds to buy necessary materials, estimated at about 140,000 pesos (about $7,500 USD. The materials list and cost estimates are available via the GoFundMe fundraising platform.
The people of Boca need your help! Any funds you contribute will help sustain a community desperately trying to keep their families safe, gainfully employed, and connected at all times. Please click HERE to make a donation today.