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Estudios sociales (Hermosillo, Son.)

Print version ISSN 0188-4557


VARGAS DEL RIO, David  and  BRENNER, Ludger. Community based ecotourism and environmental conservation in Mexico: the experience of La Ventanilla, Oaxaca. Estud. soc [online]. 2013, vol.21, n.41, pp.31-63. ISSN 0188-4557.

While financial and logistical support to promote conservation in rural and indigenous communities' increase, academic literature on community-based ecotourism -which is one of its most prominent strategies-is plenty of contradictions and assumptions lacking empirical support. Particularly in regard to long term changes in social and ecological relationships. To analyse such issues, socio-political transformations driven by ecotourism in La Ventanilla were identified and assessed. This destination is located on the coast of Oaxaca, México, and is frequently cited as an exemplary case because it's social and environmental balanced approach to ecotourism. This article presents the political ecology of La Ventanilla at different geographic scales and over time. The results contrast with those optimistic versions lacking of diachronic vision. Rather, it illustrates an "institutional train wreck" that makes local ecology more vulnerable: decreasing social cohesion, reciprocity, sense of community and mutual trust, while promoting processes like land speculation and inequality. Consequently, the intervention of outsiders, however well intentioned, has exacerbated socioeconomic inequalities and weakened local institutions.

Keywords : community-based ecotourism; political ecology; local development; environmental conservation; La Ventanilla.

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