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gpkgto

Dec 30, 2009, 8:26 AM

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Chamula Power

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An article from Reforma talks about how some guys from Chamula are now operating a local crime ring. The article is in Spanish.

http://www.sipse.com/noticias/25827-chamula-power-controla-ilicitos-chiapas.html




Hound Dog

Dec 30, 2009, 12:39 PM

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Re: [gpkisner] Chamula Power

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An article from Reforma talks about how some guys from Chamula are now operating a local crime ring. The article is in Spanish.


GP; aren´t we talking here about distribution and sale of pirated DVDs and CDs in greater San Cristóbal de Las Casas which includes Chamula? This is not a real "crime" in the Jovel Valley and environs any more than it is at Lake Chapala. There is a
robust market for pirated DVDs and CDs in and around San Cristóbal for a number of reasons including the fact that you could not buy a non-pirated DVD or CD if you tried and if you could the price would be obscene relative to local wealth.

Chamulas are enterprising people and are to be admired for their opportunistic skills but they may not be that nice in general so know what you are buying and if you get there you will do well dealing with them. If you are a dunce, on the other hand, you will forfeit your skin and not even miss it until after they are long gone.


(This post was edited by Hound Dog on Dec 30, 2009, 12:41 PM)


Manuel Dexterity

Dec 30, 2009, 1:05 PM

Post #3 of 24 (13593 views)

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Re: [Hound Dog] Chamula Power

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Chamulas are enterprising people and are to be admired for their opportunistic skills but they may not be that nice in general so know what you are buying and if you get there you will do well dealing with them. If you are a dunce, on the other hand, you will forfeit your skin and not even miss it until after they are long gone.


Santa must have filled the Mutt's stocking with hyperbole this Christmas. Not that he needed any.


(This post was edited by Manuel Dexterity on Dec 30, 2009, 1:05 PM)


gpkgto

Dec 30, 2009, 2:27 PM

Post #4 of 24 (13578 views)

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Re: [Hound Dog] Chamula Power

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Not just pirateria--drugs and child prostitution too--and beating rivals almost to death. One of the leaders is the son of a Chamula cacique. To nmake it worse, they are abandoning the Mayan culture. It's all in the article.


arbon

Dec 30, 2009, 2:54 PM

Post #5 of 24 (13571 views)

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Re: [Manuel Dexterity] Chamula Power

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Chamulas are enterprising people and are to be admired for their opportunistic skills but they may not be that nice in general so know what you are buying and if you get there you will do well dealing with them. If you are a dunce, on the other hand, you will forfeit your skin and not even miss it until after they are long gone.


Santa must have filled the Mutt's stocking with hyperbole this Christmas. Not that he needed any. You could ask him to light a multi-coloured candle in Chamula for you when he gets down there. Eh

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Vichil

Dec 30, 2009, 3:05 PM

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Re: [gpkisner] Chamula Power

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Las Hormigas in San Cristobal is a no man´s land for non indigenous in San Cristobal. It is a tough area mostly but not all inhabited by non catholic Chamulans and others. The police stays out of there and the neighborhood has its own rules.
It is where the bicycle thief got burnt alive.
Prostitution is alive and well in San Cristobal and the Chamulans are not the only ones involved. The girls working our street are from San Andres Larrainzar and so are their "boyfriends".

More worrysome is the growing number of conversions to Islams by indigenous . They live in the Pez de Oro neighborhood and so far are quiet but that too could change.

The chamulans are probably the most traditional indigenous around and the most aggressive. Wife and children abuse and exploitation is part of the culture. There is a big campaign right now about helping the women out of this nastiness but as far as I can tell it is not very successful. The men go to jail for a while and then get out nastier than ever.

Pegar or hit is the first Tzotzil verb I was taught...pretty indicative of the sweet Mayan culture...


Hound Dog

Dec 30, 2009, 3:52 PM

Post #7 of 24 (13556 views)

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Re: [gpkisner] Chamula Power

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Not just pirateria--drugs and child prostitution too--and beating rivals almost to death

Almost my ass! If a Chamula wants you dead then you are dead. Almost????

Child prostitution and exploitation, pandemic drunken rancor, constant violent internecine territorial struggles and chronic spousal and child abuse are characteristic of Chiapas, especially among the indigenous. I´ll bet my correspondent Manuel Dexterity knows this better than Dawg. There is nothing to be done about this so lay low or get out.


frito

Dec 30, 2009, 7:29 PM

Post #8 of 24 (13529 views)

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Re: [Hound Dog] Chamula Power

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Not just pirateria--drugs and child prostitution too--and beating rivals almost to death

Almost my ass! If a Chamula wants you dead then you are dead. Almost????

Child prostitution and exploitation, pandemic drunken rancor, constant violent internecine territorial struggles and chronic spousal and child abuse are characteristic of Chiapas, especially among the indigenous. I´ll bet my correspondent Manuel Dexterity knows this better than Dawg. There is nothing to be done about this so lay low or get out.

=========================================================================================

How much of this is observable on the streets of San Cristobal? Are there parallel worlds where living in town segregates you from tough neighborhoods outside the city limits?



Vichil

Dec 30, 2009, 8:18 PM

Post #9 of 24 (13520 views)

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Re: [frito] Chamula Power

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There are parallel worlds anywhere in the world wether Ajijic,San Cristobal or New York City, until you cross over either on purpose or by accident or never.


frito

Dec 30, 2009, 9:39 PM

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Re: [Vichil] Chamula Power

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There are parallel worlds anywhere in the world wether Ajijic,San Cristobal or New York City, until you cross over either on purpose or by accident or never.

==========================================================================================

Well, ok, but Hound Dog describes a pretty bleak scenario. And I'm a FedEx courier. I've spent years delivering in very poor neighborhoods in numerous cities including impoverished colonias on the border. No stranger to it, but I'm not interested in living in that atmosphere. If the pedestrian areas of San Cristobal are upbeat, gentrified, even somewhat sanitized that's fine by me. Not expecting Beverly Hills, not wanting South-Central L.A. either!



Hound Dog

Dec 31, 2009, 6:30 AM

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Re: [frito] Chamula Power

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 How much of this is observable on the streets of San Cristobal? Are there parallel worlds where living in town segregates you from tough neighborhoods outside the city limits

Actually, Frito, one is unlikely to observe random violence in San Cristóbal´s main plaza (El Jardin) area and nearby streets where tourists normally congregate even when occasional mass Zapatista gatherings occur in the area. We live in a mixed area of etnic groups near the Santo Domingo convent and, while I wouldn´t characterize the area as prone to violence, there is a significant crime problem largely controlled by vigilant neighbors who can be counted on to enforce the laws through what I would call "street justice" if necessary. Those vigilant neighbors make a big difference in maintaining civility.

The real violence in Chiapas usually takes place in the very poor indigenous ghettos surrounding San Cristóbal proper or in
rural areas among indigenous communities or indigenous communities and illegal Central American immigrants or among those groups and all sorts of other interested groups or the army or law enforcement types in the mountains or along the border with Guatemala. Unless one ventures into areas where one does not belong, especially at night, one can live in peace in San Cristóbal in normal times.

Dawg has always lived in or near places with parallel communities experiencing violence from Alabama during the civil rights struggles to really dangerous urban areas such as Oakland or San Francisco´s Haight during the 70s when things were trying to come apart there. Sure beats Des Moines.


(This post was edited by Hound Dog on Dec 31, 2009, 6:33 AM)


Vichil

Dec 31, 2009, 7:27 AM

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Re: [frito] Chamula Power

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Indigenous were not allowed to live in San Cristobal until 94 I believe, they could come and sell their goods and do business during the day but had to leave before dark.

Many missionaries came to convert the indigenous and many of the new converts were kicked out of their villages because of the new religion. Many formed new towns and you can recognize the new towns as they go by Biblical names and New whatever... they also many times are inhabited by indigenous from various pueblos which you can identify by the different clothes they are wearing.

Now non-catholics are more or less accepted even in Chamula although there are still beatings of missionaries in that municipality once in a while. Most of the missonaries who are beaten up are indigenous themselves.

About 45 000 people came to San Cristobal as refugees because of the religious intolerance of their villages and the majority came from Chamula, all these people settled on the outskirts of San Cristobal on the other side of the periferico and in the flood plain on the outside of town. These barrios can be seen in the hill in the North part of town. Las Hormigas, 1 de Enero, Pez de Oro , Jerusalem etc are all indigenous barrios. The original northern barrios of the city are also becoming mixed or totally indigenous such as part of Tlaxcala.

As a tourist you are unlikely to run into those indigenous barrios and if you are near them you will not walk there for too long as there is really nothing to see but wooden huts for the most part. I would not walk alone in Las Hormigas unless I had business there and the same in many indigenous barrios but as a foreigner you are unlikely to be attacked. I have gone many times to Tlaxcala to pick up friends and you will be stared at but not much more, once in a while people will ask you what you are looking for , you tell them and that is about it. Indigenous are very suspicious and fearful of strangers so it is always better to have the name of the people or place you are looking for if you want to walk around these areas.

Some Chamulas will still sell their 12 or 13 year old daughters in marriage for a few sheep to a friend or neighbor and some have still several wives although both customs are not legally permitted so we can call it child exploitation or following the old tradition..but it still goes on today and the good old Mayan ways are not all abandoned believe me. Husbands still beat the heck out of their wives if they do not behave and so on...Mayans are not necessarily the sweet people they were once portrayed as by historians.


(This post was edited by Vichil on Dec 31, 2009, 7:46 AM)


Hound Dog

Dec 31, 2009, 8:08 AM

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Re: [Vichil] Chamula Power

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I wish to add something to what my darlin´ wife Vichil wrote about poor refugees living in sqalid (for the most part) ghettos around San Cristóbal who were expelled from their traditional communities because of religious intolerance. Absolutely correct but it is important to remember that these traditional communities had elders exercising power and demanding conformance with community standards through the power of the church which was and is Catholic with adopted pagan traditions in a marvelously colorful tradition. Protestant missionaries came into these pueblos and disturbed the order of things which bestowed power among an elite practicing this unique form of Roman Catholicism and converts to protestantism resisted, in general, compliance with long established community practices including participation in important community affairs requring a form of "tithing" and community service and obedience to the council in power. This was, within the indigenous community, akin to insurrection and, in the view of the local powerful cliques allied with the church, intolerable. Therefore, those they considered infidels and usurpers were expelled and cut off from community largesse and had to form poverty stricken new towns in which to live. Many gravitated to the hills around San Cristóbal. This social discord, sowed by naive fundamentalist protestant missionaries intolerant of the unique form of Roman Catholicism practiced in Highland Chiapas among the indigenous, destroyed community traditions for better or worse and there were many positives and negatives about this religious proselytizing but if one does not understand these issues it is none of one´s business except solely as an observer.


(This post was edited by Hound Dog on Dec 31, 2009, 8:11 AM)


frito

Dec 31, 2009, 4:41 PM

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Re: [Hound Dog] Chamula Power

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Thank you and Vichil for clarifying that. I'm looking at many travel blogs that are very positive but superficial about San Cristobal. None have come close to examining the reality of life beneath the surface there. Your essays are sometimes startling but always eye-opening! Happy New Year!


Hound Dog

Jan 1, 2010, 5:40 PM

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Re: [Hound Dog] Chamula Power

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Protestant missionaries came into these pueblos and disturbed the order of things....

I was having a drink at the Tuxtla Gutierrez airport while waiting for my flight to Guadalajara when a very large group of foreign fundamentalist Christian missionaries exited a flight from Mexico City and were gathered together in the terminal building and then flocked outside where their team leaders gathered them up for a rather loud pep rally and they then were driven off in buses to conduct some crusade with a catch phrase such as "Chiapas Summer Crusade 2007" or something like that and then they dispersed to the highlands to proselytize among the indigenous. The day I witnessed this event the participating missionaries were fundamentalist Presbyterians I believe. Sort of reminded me of the old Moonies many of you may remember that I used to see in the rural hamlet of Booneville that was their headquarters in Northern California. It was a bit spooky, actually. These folks go into the indigenous communities and recruit indigenous missionaries who are the ones who risk being assaulted later by some in the various communities.

San Cristóbal and highland protestant "new" exhile villages have many fundamentalist Christian congregations and Sunday morning local radio broadcasts their services with some really good music and highly charged preaching in various Mayan tongues. As you pass these congregations during their meetings you will be treated to hellfire and brimstone sermons and intense singing by the participants. I am not a religious person so have no sympathy for these missionaries whether foreign or local. I will say, however, that despite the turmoil they bring to the commmunities they invade, the missionaries encourage education and discourage alcohol consumption in a region where school dropouts at an early age and alcohol related domestic violence are indemic and a terrible problem. That´s why I said earlier that this protestant movement has both good and bad aspects.


(This post was edited by Hound Dog on Jan 1, 2010, 5:47 PM)


geri

Jan 2, 2010, 7:16 PM

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Re: [Hound Dog] Chamula Power

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This is not unlike what I hear is happening in villages in Oaxaca also. There are skirmishes between the Evangelists/missionaries and the indigenous in the remote, mountainous villages. I've also been told that the Christian "reformers" are getting a foothold because they bring info/access to birth control. Hard to believe but there are women so isolated that they actually don't have access to birth control info or methods.


Hound Dog

Jan 3, 2010, 6:02 AM

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Re: [Hound Dog] Chamula Power

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...school dropouts at an early age and alcohol related domestic violence are indemic and a terrible problem....


I meant endemic, of course. Too late to edit.

Good point about the isolation and ignorance of modern birth control measures geri:

This all, whether in isolated regions of Oaxaca State or Chiapas, boils down to politics and power struggles intertwined with religious factionalism. No point going into much detail but it´s good for foreigners stumbling upon these communities to recognize how little they know and steer clear of involvement favoring any side.

My wife´s Tzotzil teacher´s mother lives in almost total isolation in the high mountains surrounding San Cristóbal de Las Casas. She lives off the land almost entirely and a trip to any even basic tienda is a heroic struggle on foot down and back up steep mountain dirt paths which become practically, if not completely, impassable during the summer rainy season. Water is delivered to her by pipeline from community members living above her. She and her fellow mountain dwellers must be self-sufficient in almost every way and so they are. My wife hiked up to see her milpa with its magnificent views of nearby mountains and canyons and was mightily impressed. These self-sufficient mountain people grow most of their food on their adjacent lands in the mountains and my wife was treated to a modest lunch while there from ingredients grown and prepared on premise by this enterprising lady.

It seems to me that, while poverty is almost never desirable, self-sufficiency on one´s own mountainside beats being crowded into a dismal ghetto in Detroit or Mumbai. Not that I want either for myself.


(This post was edited by Hound Dog on Jan 3, 2010, 6:03 AM)


gpkgto

Jan 3, 2010, 7:27 AM

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Re: [geri] Chamula Power

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A doctor friend said that when he tried to persuade a patient to have her tubes tied after the birth of he 12th child she said if she did her husband would leave her. Hard to deal with that kind of thinking.


geri

Jan 3, 2010, 9:16 AM

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Re: [gpkisner] Chamula Power

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True. With 12 children she needs a hubby and I suppose su esposo would find out if the community was small enough. In Oaxaca City there's a program that pays for women who can't affort it and want their tubes tied while in the hospital delivering a baby. I don't know if this is done secretively or not. It used to cost 500 pesos and you could donate money with the stipulation of it going toward a tubal ligation.

Young professional women take birth control pills without telling their husbands. I don't know how common this is. No way of telling really. Maybe the two I know about are the ONLY two?


La Isla


Jan 3, 2010, 12:15 PM

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Re: [geri] Chamula Power

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Young professional women take birth control pills without telling their husbands. I don't know how common this is. No way of telling really. Maybe the two I know about are the ONLY two?


I would assume that a young profesional woman would be married to a young (or youngish) professional man. I'm surprised that in a marriage of educated people birth control is not something desired by both parties.


Vichil

Jan 3, 2010, 12:47 PM

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Re: [geri] Chamula Power

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There are similar programs in Chiapas but the problem is that the women are rarely alone so it is very difficult for them to do anything without the rest of the family finding out about it. It is difficult to imagine someone getting their tubes tied without the husband finding out about it.


(This post was edited by Vichil on Jan 3, 2010, 12:57 PM)


arbon

Jan 3, 2010, 1:10 PM

Post #22 of 24 (13215 views)

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Re: [La Isla] Chamula Power

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But no body on this thread is being asked or expected to talk about their personal number of children desired.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



wendy devlin

Jan 3, 2010, 1:56 PM

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Re: [La Isla] Chamula Power

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I just gotta do a thread highjack, here ja! ja!

Given my pool of contacts with professional women in Mexico, is also small.

Birth control is one of the topics, discussed together with amigas mexicanas, over time.

With me, just about as curious as to their thoughts and experiences, perhaps, as they were of mine.

These friends were all on birth control and figured it was nobody's business but theirs and their sexual partners(husband, boyfriends....) They also volunteered the opinion, that it was 'better' to have just 2 or 3 children in order to provide the both the economic necessities and the future years of university/technical training. Middleclass themselves, they had similiar aspirations both professionally and in lifestyle for their children. Although several of them, came from campesino roots. Somewhat surprising to me(given no previous knowledge of Mexican sexual mores)their viewpoint mirrored my own views/experiences in this regard.

I could be wrong about this,(swimming in that same pool of limited experience) but it seemed when attending group prenatal classes with our daughter in a small town Centro de Salud that there was ample advise/discussion by the nurses involved advocating birth control/family planning.

During our daughter's hospital stay following the birth of her son, again, I witnessed nurses advising patients(daughter was in a ward of eight women) as to post-partum care including birth control. Plus more than a few of the women(all it seemed under 20) had also undergone a tubal ligation as several of them already had, had a few children since age 15.
Therein lies a topic of discussion itself:)

In the following months afterwards, our daughter continued to visit the local Centro de Salud, where the nurse on duty(one) continued to offer support/advise. The doctor in this particular small town, was doing his mandatory field placement following graduation and occasionally our daughter paid out of pocket for his services. The doctor was billeted at turns in various family homes over the two years at his posting.

Overall, as a former nurse, I was impressed by the public health information and the availability of government-run programs.

However, when it came to the purchase of medicines, many people seemed to have to come up with the money itself. Sometimes the monthly cost of birth control itself might very well be prohibitive to family planning.
In such a 'hot' culture, being without adequate 'protection', including the spectre of SIDA, often has predictable consequences.

However during the same period of time, I had intimate contact with a number of other young women, from a very low economic rung of the ladder. Getting to know details, about their life experiences, largely through our daughter, with whom they were friends, regarding their past, present circumstances, and possible future prospects, gave me a lot of pause for reflection.

There are many ways, whether intentional or otherwise, to keep a person, ignorant and in poverty.

And keep them in this state, generation after generation. For what cause?


geri

Jan 3, 2010, 3:05 PM

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Re: [wendy devlin] Chamula Power

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I am amazed at the increase in health services in the villages near Oaxaca in the 10 years I've been here. Lots of info and services. However, there are still hundreds of remote villages where family traditions are very strict, where people are accused of "selling" their children into marriage, whereas in actuality after age 14 or 15 they need, and are expected to, have a husband to support them. The "sale" is the traditional dowry. Anyway, I'm talking about very remote, i.e. 4 or 5 hours by bus then a few miles in the back of the town's pick-up truck, to get there from Oaxaca City. It's another world for sure. Within an hour or two of the city, the villages are quite prosperous in comparison, due to demand for crafts by tourists and folks in the States and Canada. Also, many family members return from USA with money to buy a car and build a house. This is happening in remote areas also, but to a lesser degree. I've only visited a few of the more than 300 villages who are governed by Usos y Costumbres but anthropologists speak at our library and there is much literature/studies to make me think that tradition reigns supreme, although change is occurring.

Yes, many young professional men tell me they don't want more than two or three children because it costs so much to raise them. Still, I'm not sure that education totally wipes out Mexican machismo. The complexity of Oaxaca is one of the things that keeps me here.
 
 
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