Friday, December 9, 2011

A wee bit more on indigenous mayoralties

The alcaldía indígena of Chichicastenango has been involved in legal battles to recover lands and buildings that have traditionally belonged to the municipality. Some of my friends think that this alcaldía, and the one in Sololá, are about the only organizations in the Maya communities, across the nation, that have the authority and strength to stand up to state institutions and private corporations - -that is, to effectively represent the interests of Maya communities in the face of the state, national and transnational capital The alcaldía indígena in Chichi gained control of the museum some years back, and it remains open to the public for a very modest admission; they also are very strict about not allowing photographs of most of the exhibitions.  The alcaldía meets every week in one of the rooms of the museum, and as I entered through their meeting room and not the admission desk I did not see the "no photographs" sign, so I will have to ask them whether or not I can share the photographs I took (mostly of some textiles hanging on the wall, which are of very recent vintage and not different from what one can find in the adjacent market, except that there are some minimally descriptive labels).

The alcaldía has been involved for several years in legal efforts to regain control of a building that is currently occupied by the telephone company, Telgua, and they won a legal ruling earlier this year which called for a two-year halt on the use of the building by the phone company and its employees, which effectively cut off phone and internet service for the municipality of Chichicastenango. Here is an article from today's paper with an update on the case:

The article just summarizes the case, and quotes one of the alcaldes, Tomás Saquic, who was the man who was kind enough to spend some time with me and explain some things about the functioning of the alcaldía when I had lunch with them just over a month ago.

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