If you ask president Felipe Calderon (PAN, electoral right-wing) or Governor of Chiapas Juan Sabines (PRD, electoral left-wing), the ciudades rurales are there to relocate poor indigenous people from risk zones–communities without electricity, drinking water, access to heath–to safe housing. Coincidentally, the officially designated risk-zones coincide perfectly with the zones that contain high-levels of exploitable natural-resources. The government moves them to the ciudad rural, and has them sign a contract which gives them a house in exchange for a commitment never to return to their original homes.
On paper, everything looks good–the government promotes increased quality of life and provides employment to the residents of the ciudades rurales, while the GDP increases due to the increased exploitation of natural resources.
But, if you go to a ciudad rural, as we did, you see the grim reality.