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La Educación
Número: (122) III
Año: 1995


1. The textbook employed is Quintana Roo. Entre la selva y el mar. Monografía Estatal. México: Secretaría de Educación Pública. 1992. It was written by Lorena Careaga and is based solely on documentary sources. Although the textbook includes some first-hand material in the historical accounts of nineteenth-century Yucatecan historians, it is based primarily on second-hand accounts such as those of Reed (1964) and Villa Rojas (1987). All further mention of textbooks refers to this source. Quotes from the textbook will simply be indicated by page number.
2. The process of integrating indigenous people into the nation-state became a continental goal with the birth of the Latin American indigenista movement in 1940. It has, to this date, articulated policies from an understanding of the Indian as “an economically and socially weak individual,” with the goal of integrating them to the national culture by incorporating those aspects of their culture which are “positive, and by promoting their community development within the nation.” Policy-makers have allowed no room for the participation of indigenous peoples. “Acta Final del Primer Congreso Indigenista Interamericano” (Pátzcuaro, abril de 1940), LII: Situación social de los grupos indígenas. En Actas Finales de los Tres Primeros Congresos Indigenistas Interamericanos, Guatemala, Comité Organizador del IV Congreso Indigenista Interamericano, 1959, 52.
3. For further reading on this episode, see La casa del estudiante indígena: diesiseis meses de labor de un experimento psicológico colectivo con indios. Febrero de 1926 a junio de 1927 (México: Talleres Gráficos de la Nación, 1927).
4. In the paintings of this period, one of the visual-metaphors is of indigenous women, who are always located in the center of nature scenes. I have in mind the Diego Rivera paintings, in which women are depicted placidly selling flowers or watermelons.
5. Maya Macehual “commoner, peasant, farmer” (borrowed from Nahuatl Macehual-li “commoner”) + -ob/-oob [plural]. Roys defines Macehual to mean working person. In this study, I will refer to the so-called Cruzob Maya as Macehual (sing.) and Macehualoob (plural). The Macehualoob use the term Dzul (sing.) and Dzuloob (plural) to refer to the foreigner, Spanish, Mexican, European, landowner, creole, ladino or other non-Maya. I will employ both of these terms throughout this paper.
6. It should be noted that the rest of the Maya of the Yucatan peninsula also refer to themselves as Macehualoob, but I will use this term here only to mean the Maya of southern Quintana Roo.
7. The history textbook is primarily used for 4th, 5th, and 6th grades, although some teachers sometimes read excerpts to younger children. Teachers customarily follow the official story described in it because they have no other materials on Macehual history.
8. The nohoch macoob historical understanding emerges from a Mayan cultural tradition which survived three hundred years of Spanish rule, as exemplified in the colonial books of the Chilam Balam. According to Farriss (1984, 402), these are texts which have roots in the pre-Hispanic period but were written during the colonial period by anonymous literate members of the Mayan elite, most likely priestly intellectuals. These books were written in the Yucatec Mayan language using the Latin script and were deliberately hidden from Spanish view. They were read and consulted secretly by notables, principales.
9. The following interpretation of Macehual histories is the result of a study based on 16 months of fieldwork in which I examined the historical narratives of 30 older Macehualoob.
10. Debt peonage refers to the nineteenth-century practice of tying indigenous laborers to the hacienda land. The hacendados made an initial money advance and kept a running account with the laborers who found themselves perpetually in debt.
11. Doña Anita had explained to me that her grandmother had magic powers (3-28-91).
12. The government agency Conasupo buys maize from the Macehualoob and transfers it to other regions and sells it back to them at a higher price in times of need. Government agencies have the power to regulate not only the prices of food (Comisión Nacional de Subsistencia Popular: Conasupo) that the Macehualoob buy and sell, but also the prices of railroad ties (National Railways of Mexico), chicle (Federation of Chicle cooperatives of Quintana Roo), and timber. Between 1990-1991, I witnessed the deterioration of their purchasing power as the price of railroad ties stagnated while the prices of basic foods continued to rise. Moreover, the volume of train ties requested by FerroMex decreased because of the economic crisis of this government agency. In addition, the price of timber decreased in real terms in spite of a retail price increase (Sociedad Civil Forestal).
13. I calculated this figure from the Inegi Census, 1990. The minimum salary in Mexico amounts to approximately US $4.00 per day. Other poverty indicators that Inegi collected include services. Fourty-three percent of the people in the municipality of Felipe Carrillo Puerto do not have toilets, and only 13 percent have running water inside their homes. With regard to education, the census identified 26
14. Although the actual work takes place in people’s own homes and fields, government control comes through regulations on where to plant, provisions where and when to burn, the delivery of agricultural insurance, as well as provisions on agricultural input through a series of credit arrangements through the agricultural bank. The narratives of the older Macehualoob indict the corrupt practices of offices like the agricultural insurance agency (Anagsa), which often does not recognize disaster zones in order to avoid paying the insurance that is due.