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Protesters Leave Mayan Ruins Eerily Deserted After Blocking Tourists From Mexico’s Most Popular Archaeological Site

 Mexico’s most visited archaeological site, Chichen Itza, was left empty as protesters blocked roads to the site on Thursday, the fourth day of protests.

Indigenous vendors spearheading the protests have blocked major roadways for entry, leaving roads jammed with buses and cars while the archaeological site has been eerily deserted, Semafor reported. Chichen Itza receives 2.5 million visitors per year, according to its website. However, video shows the tourist hotspot completely empty even though it is officially open.

Local media reported that Indigenous vendors are demanding the director of the Chichen Itza archeological zone, Antonio Santos Ramírez, to step down. They allege that Santos Ramírez limits the number of handicraft stalls allowed on the Indigenous grounds while prohibiting vendors from speaking the Mayan language. Protesters also allege that the director has banned local farmers from using their land for tourist parking and that he enforces these policies using the National Guard.

An activist named Arturo Ciau Puc, with the local farm group known as CIOAC, told Semafor that the director and the National Institute of Anthropology and History, the Mexican agency that oversees historical sites, do not fully understand the current hardships of indigenous Mexicans, according to Semafor. “How does he expect us and the farmers to survive?” Ciau Puc asks. “There’s no economy for us with these restrictions.”

According to local news site Diario de Yucatán, Santos Ramírez denies the allegations. He refuses to step down, saying, “The accusations are a slander, a lie and it is a political flag of that group, nothing more to argue something that has no basis or foundation.”

Santos Ramírez also says that the limitations on vendor stalls are to reduce child labor on the archaeological site.

Chichen Itza has a total of 26 Mayan Ruins on the site, and the most notable Mayan Ruin is the Chichen Itza Pyramid or El Castillo. The site is located on the Yucatán peninsula of Mexico and has an area of about four square miles.

Settlers first arrived at the site around 550 AD and it remained active for about a thousand years; it is believed that the site was abandoned by the time the Spanish arrived. Thought to be home to 35,000 people at its peak, Chichen Itza was a religious, political, military, and economic hub for the Mayan people.

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