Sixteenth century Dominican church emerges from waters of dam in Mexico

A sixteenth-century Dominican church has emerged from the waters of the “Benito Juarez” dam in Jalapa del Marques, due to a drought that has occurred in recent years in the Oaxaca region of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
Although the bell tower and part of the church domes have been destroyed, the building is almost intact after more than 50 years underwater due to the dam being filled to help irrigate agricultural land.
(Soundbite, Spanish) – Miguel Olivera Sibaja, fisherman and tour guide
“This church was built between 1550 and 1600. It was first submerged in 1962 and has remained so ever since. This was the main church of Santa Maria Jalapa del Marques. ”
The lack of rain in recent years has to the dam losing over 50 percent of its capacity, which has brought the remains of this Dominican church back to the surface. This is the third time it has surfaced due to drought, with the last time being in 2008.
(Soundbite, Spanish) – Miguel Olivera Sibaja, fisherman and tour guide
“This has only been seen three times down the years when a drought has blighted the level of water.”
The nearly 1,000 fishermen in the area are concerned about the drought and because the dam continues to decline. Mexico’s National Water Commission (CONAGUA) has reported that the dam Benito Juarez is now at 40 percent capacity.
(Soundbite, Spanish) – Miguel Olivera Sibaja, fisherman and tour guide
“We are already beginning to about the situation as the water level is quite low. If the dam becomes dry, we will have many needs as many people depend on this dam.”
Meanwhile, the appearance of the Dominican temple is being used by fishermen to take tourists for boat rides to the ruins of the ancient village church.

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