Archive for January, 2007

On Top of El Castillo

January 18th, 2007 by ejalbright

Found this picture on the Internet, taken Jan. 17.

Top of El Castillo

What exactly is going on on top of El Castillo? And why can’t I get up there?

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Ban on Pyramid Climbing Comes from the Top

January 16th, 2007 by ejalbright

The policy of barring visitors from climbing to the top of El Castillo and other monuments in Mexico is coming from the top of the organizational pyramid at INAH.

Coordinador Nacional de Centros Arqueológicos of INAH, José Vicente de La Rosa, told Milenio last week that his agency has begun restricting access to the monuments because of the damage they are enduring due to the sun, rain and cold, as well as the wear from millions of tourists climbing on them.

The plan is not with critics. According to Milenio, some argue that such preservation is unnecessary as the monuments are “70 or 80 percent reconstructed.”

You can read the Milenio article here.

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Peregrina Readies to Lens in Mexico

January 15th, 2007 by ejalbright

A movie about the doomed love affair between American journalist Alma Reed and Yucatan’s socialist governor, Felipe Carrillo Puerto, has a director, bringing it another step closer to reality. The movie will be based upon the recently published autobiography of Reed, announced in
this column last week.

The film will be directed by Carlos Bolado, an award-winning Mexican director. Ken Vose, who last wrote a produced movie in the 1970s, is writing the script.

You can read all about the genesis of the film here

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Gringo Tricked by Aluxes

January 10th, 2007 by ejalbright

Allan Ditchburn, 70, a retiree from Scotland, almost lost his life thanks to the trickery of aluxes, but was rescued after spending two nights in the Yucatecan jungle.

Of course, Ditchburn didn’t know they were aluxes. He says he was lost in the jungle near Uxmal on Christmas Eve, his ankle broken, when he saw two figures in the jungle who appeared to be standing between a Maya pyramid and a building that looked like the inn where he had eaten lunch the day before. Ditchburn called to them for help, and the figures shouted the same back at him before disappearing.

“I assumed they had gone to get help, but I gradually realised that there were no people and no buildings,” he told a reporter from the Edinburgh News. “It was a trick of the light or my mind. Wishful thinking perhaps. I think now that the response I got was an echo.”

Apparently no one has told Ditchburn about the aluxes, the little people who inhabit the jungle of Yucatan and who like to play tricks on people. Last year the aluxes managed to lure a German tourist at Chichén Itzá away from his group, and his body still hasn’t been found. I always leave out tobacco for the little fellows when wandering the jungle, just to keep them happy.

You can read Ditchburn’s remarkable story of survival here.

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Microsoft Visits Chichen

January 8th, 2007 by ejalbright

Microsoft founder and billionaire, Bill Gates, dropped in on Chichen Itza Saturday. He was joined by his co-founder and co-billionaire, Paul Allen.

The two men, and presumably their families, are vacationing in Cozumel. Each brought their own yacht, thereby evading the extortionary rates of Cozumel hotels. The yachts, some of the biggest in the world, also come with helicopters, eliminating the confusion over whether to take a first or second class bus.

Little is known of the details of their visit, other than they showed up. It is not known if they paid admission. However, had they waited until Sunday, they could have gotten in for free.

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The Times They Are a Changin’

January 7th, 2007 by ejalbright

Admission to Chichén Itzá is no longer free on Sundays, as of Jan. 7, according to the Diario de Yucatan. Only Mexican citizens and foreigners with permission “de trabajo en nuestro país” (“to work in our country?”) can enter the site for free. I assume the latter group refers to archaeologists or others with official business at the archaeological zone, but perhaps it refers to anyone who has a visa to work in Mexico.

According to the Diario, the new policies required a change in the federal law, which was advertised before the end of the last year. The fee to enter the park is still 45 pesos.

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Peregrina

January 4th, 2007 by ejalbright

The doomed love affair of American journalist Alma Reed and Yucatan socialista governor Felipe Carrillo Puerto has captured the imaginations of Yucatecans and those outside the region for decades. Late last year, Professor Michael Schleusser published Alma Reed’s autobiography, which he found in an empty apartment in Mexico City. Reed had been dead for more than 40 years, which gives an idea how fast properties turnover in Mexico …

Peregrina: Love and Death in Mexico (Louann Atkins Temple Women & Culture Series) will be published in English this spring by the University of Texas press. The Mexican version is having a little impact, as evidenced by this recent article by María Teresa Priego in El Universal. Here is my translation of an excerpt from that article. You can read the entire editorial here.

The Memory of ‘Peregrina’

Maria Teresa Priego

My father turned 80 years old….What is the desire of a father? One remains. “Alma Reed was a gringuita journalist. She was promised to Felipe Carrillo Puerto. The socialist governor of Yucatan. He had the song “Peregrina” composed for her. They loved so much. That the cenotes overflowed”. “The cenotes did not overflow, papa.”

“No?”

“No.”

“Ah, in the face of that that passion, they overflowed.”

Thus it was in my childhood. As Nélida Pinion put it, “Everything is a lie here, but a lie of good quality. Dreams would have to be favored and to expel only the incredulous ones”. I doubted. My father could not stop me. It would be like stopping the eruption of volcanos. As he said. I continued doubting.

Forty years after the death of Alma, Michael Schuessler found her autobiography. Between moldy sheets. In closet of an empty apartment. The publication of Peregrina: Mi idilio socialista con Felipe Carrillo Puerto. It arrived now. For his 80th birthday.

I do not believe it was chance. Yes it was synchronicity. Carrillo, the fascinating “red dragon with eyes of jade”, governed in 1923. With the Maya and mestizo vote. He created schools for the Mayas. He translated the constitution into Maya. He built clinics for family planning.

Alma touched Mexico. With her defense of Simón Ruiz in California. Undocumented Mexican worker. Sixteen years old. Sentenced to death. The lawyer demanded he plead guilty. From San Francisco Call newspaper, Soul fought for his life. She won. The penal code of the state thereafter prohibited the execution of minors.

In 1922 she was invited to Mexico “by Obregón.” As a correspondent of The New York Times, she denounced the extraction of the artifacts from the Sacred Well of Chichén Itzá. Taken to the Peabody museum at Harvard. By diplomatic pouch. Part of the treasure has been returned to
Mexico.

They fell in love. The cenotes overflowed. The 14 of January of 1924 they were to be married. The dawn of the third. Carrillo Puerto was assassinated. Alma received a telegram with the devastating news: her fiance’ and three brothers were killed by firing squad”. Felipe brought the photo of Alma. Sewn into his hat.

Alma visited Yucatan. Villa Aurora. Where they were going to live together. Auroras that did not arrive. She traveled much. In 1952 she returned to Mexico. She received the Order of the Aztec Eagle. She died in 1966. “Bury me as near to Felipe as possible”. Mérida. “Peregrina, that you left your home/the firs and the virgin snow /You found refuge from the storms/sheltered from the sky in my land/In my tropical land”. Eighty years of tropical. Their story. They are tropical storms.”

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All This, Over Pavarotti?

January 3rd, 2007 by ejalbright

I just don’t get it. When it comes to Mexican politics, my translation skills are completely inadequate.

Take the case of Maria Teresa Franco. From 1992 to 2000 she served as director of INAH, the federal agency that oversees Mexico’s patrimony, such as the monuments at Chichen Itza. Her philosophy during her reign was to find ways to integrate commercial interests into Mexico’s archaeological and historical treasures. For example, she greenlighted a concert at Chichen Itza by the great tenor, Luciano Pavarotti.

Although I can find no direct reports of the concert (help, anyone?), sources indicate that some 40,000 people showed up for the concert, overwhelming the security and infrastructure at the ancient Maya city and supposedly even causing damage to some of the monuments.

For this and other similar events and activities, Franco was villified, and complaints were brought against her. She left office in 2000 when Vincente Fox assumed the presidency.

Six years later, they are still arguing about her. And for the life of me I can’t figure out what the squawking is about. It appears that the folks now in control of the government have dismissed the complaints against Franco because she is no longer in office. The plaintiffs, however, want there to be a finding.

Proceso.com.mx recently presented a lengthy analysis of the flap. You
can find the original article here.

Here’s a Google-translated version of the article:

THE DENUNCIATION AGAINST FRANCO

Judith Amador Tello

The unions that demanded to Maria frank Teresa when this one was director of the INAH, will look for to reactivate the denunciation, since according to them never a failure occurred; they thus denied the new president of the Conaculta, Sergio Candle, that has denied the existence of this complaint (to the closing of the edition, it emitted a bulletin in which bases his position on an opinion of the Legal one of the INAH). The reason for diferendo was the famous subject that the salinismo left for history: intentode to construct mall in the archaeological zone of Teotihuacán, dice to know by Process.

Far from to be “totally false” – as she affirmed to butcher and evidently annoying Sergio Candle, president of the National Council for the Culture and Artes (Conaculta) – which Maria Teresa Franco González-Rooms, the new director of the National Bellas Institute Artes (INBA) has a denunciation in the General Office of the judge advocate general of the Republic, members of the unions of Beautiful Arts and of the one of Anthropology and Historia (INAH) they will look
for to be united to ratify it.

As much the present leader of academic of this last one, Iván Franco Cáceres, like the previous one, Felipe Echenique March, who at his moment along with took to the case like representative of the union directive committee of that union other companions, agrees in which at the beginning of 2007 they will reiterate the denunciation in order to avoid that the case is closed by nonsuit.

The past Wednesday 13 of December Candle organized, in their offices of the colony Chimalistac, a press conference to present/display to the first members of their cabinet: Alfonso de Maria and Fields, director of the INAH; Franc, of the INBA; and like technical secretaries of the Conaculta to Carmen Quintanilla (a) and Javier González Rubio (b).

Although to the director of opera and exdirector of the Festival the Cervantino International he questioned himself to him that he had invited like collaborators to those who were cultural civil employees during the sexenios of Carlos Salinas de Gortari and Ernesto Zedillo, as well as on the meager budget who would receive the subsector culture, without a doubt the controverted subject more was the appointment of Teresa Franco.

The subject of the denunciation marked the note. When Process asked Candle if it did not prevent him to occupy a public position, the civil employee blushed and furious he responded: “It is totally false”. But instead of explaining so that it is false or if the subject had been solved of some way, one rose and one went followed of his just named collaborating, avoiding any other question of means.

Antecedents

When Frank one evolved as director of the INAH between 1992 and 2000 the scandals and the controversies did not need. The critics to their management were constant and “inflexible”. Towards end of the 2000, when doing a balance of its management, she herself recognized in interview with Process (1245):

“I have lived multiple conflicts that never seem to have solution.”

And for sample, more of a “button”: The restoration project, to say of the union of academic “without integral project”, of the National Museum of History, in the Castle of Chapultepec, and its use for “commercial events; the restoration of exconvento of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, in the city of Oaxaca, in where the alteration of original elements was criticized; the construction of a commercial center and a tower of 22 floors, on the part of the Carso-Inbursa group de Carlos Slim, in the environs of the archaeological zone of Cuicuilco.

In addition, the project “Monte Albán Century XXI”, in Oaxaca, where a commercial center within the archaeological zone would also be created; the initiative of General Law of Cultural Patrimony of the Nation, presented/displayed at the end of sexenio zedillista by the senator Mauricio Fernandez Garza, who to say of several critical and specialists in patrimony opened the door to the privatization of the cultural patrimony; and the concerts of Pavarotti in Chichén Itzá and Andrea Bocelli in San Juan de Ulúa.

But the one that it triggered in the denunciation before the PGR was the one of the construction of the commercial seats in Teotihuacán. The 23 of May of 1994, the reporter Roberto Ponce published in Process (916) that like part of one of the 12 “special projects of archaeology”, impelled in the government of Salt mines of Gortari with millionaire resources (111 million weights altogether), was constructed in that zone the Seat Jaguars, in the called estate the Ventilla, where were pre-Hispanic murals. The piles to other constructions for the seats Corzo and Manuel Gamio had been placed in addition, where traveling retailers would be relocated.

Towards end of 1994 the citizen Rogelio Perez Martinez penal denounced to Franc and the archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, then director of the zone of Teotihuacán, among other tie personages to the case of the commercial seats. Previous inquiries AP 162-94 and 8176-094 were opened. In January-April of 1996, first it was extended to include in the Saline denunciation the ex-president of Gortari, “like presumed intellectual author of the archaeological monument destruction”.

Later, the 10 of December of 1996 the investigators of the INAH Felipe Echenique March, Laura Adriana Castañeda Cerecero, Guillermo Córdova Tello, Maria of Los Angeles Colunga Hernandez, Victor Hugo Garci’a Chávez and Jose Alfredo Genis Perez, members of the Executive Committee of the Union Delegation of Professors of Scientific Investigation and Teaching of INAH (D-IIIA-1), presented/displayed before the then holder of the PGR, Jorge Madrazo Cuéllar, a denunciation of facts for which 12748/FEDEC/96 was opened to previous inquiry AP.

In the denunciation, of 21 pages, the presumed “destruction is exposed and physical, visual, volumetric alteration, of archaeological information and archaeological contexts” in the archaeological zone, and is considered like presumed people in charge to Rafael Tovar and of Teresa, president of the Conaculta; Maria Teresa Franco González-Sa-, director of the INAH; Enrique Nalda, technical secretary of he himself; and Alexander Martinez Muriel; national coordinator of Archaeology, among other civil employees.

Such investigators asked for months later, before the House of Representatives, a political judgment against Franco and Tovar and of Teresa not only by the subject of Teotihuacán, but also by other “patrimonial affectations”. They mentioned the case of the exhospicio and Hospital of in center Historical Bethlemitas of the City of Mexico, in where according to the denouncers it was lacked an integral project of intervention, thus was being altered and destroying the building, with an excessive cost for the Federation.

The subjects of the Castle of Chapultepec were also included, the zone of historical monuments of Puebla, exconvento of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, and the concerts of Pavarotti and Bocelli.

Political quarrel

Franc considered then that the political judgment was promoted by “pressure groups which they look for a protagonism to clientelar” (Process 1161). In an interview with this weekly magazine almost at the end of his management, it described as false the accusations done in his against, but it recognized like an ambiguity the relocation of the retailers in Teotihuacán.

It also assured that the demands in his con “had been totally dissolved and in favor of the institute. Those cases are closed because the penal denunciations lacked sustenance.”

In their opinion, the works in the archaeological site, stopped in 1995, were not it by the union protests or of the retailers, but because “indeed yes there were vestiges”. Nevertheless it recognized: “Teotihuacán is a great political quarrel”.

In a letter directed to the weekly magazine two weeks after the interview with Franc, Echenique March requested to him that it exhibited the “resolutions of nonsuit”, become attached to article 8 constitutionalist and 104 of the Code of Penal Procedures, emitted by the PGR and the LVII Legislature, corresponding as much to the penal denunciation presented/displayed before the PGR like a the political judgment.

The investigator clarified to the salient civil employee who, according to right, the aim of the subject would occur until the denouncers were notified by the corresponding authorities of the “nonorigin” of the denunciations:

“It is obvious that nobody can let fight what legally has not been notified in opposite.”

Interviewed person via telephone, the investigator of the Direction of Historical Studies of the INAH responds to Candle now that the denunciation continues existing because the plaintiffs have not been notified of nonsuit or resolution some:

“The denunciation yes exists. And it is documented in all the newspapers that became… It was a mandate of the General Assembly and entered the 10 of December of 1996, soon in 1998 was made the request of political judgment.”

It informs that in the case of the political judgment there was one complete impunity because the subject was reviewed in package along with other 70 cases and all were exculpated:

“We insisted on the House of Representatives who said to us the reasons for which the political judgment had not come. Much people said that Teresa Franco was not subject of political judgment, we we maintain that yes, finally she was the chief of a main directorate of the INAH, a female leader of office and one of the people nearest the president, his entailment is direct, although is with the secretary.”

Article 110 constitutionalist says that they could be subject of judgment, among other civil employees, “the chiefs of a main directorate and their equivalent ones of the decentralized
organisms”.

According to Echenique, the applicants of the political judgment never were notified of the resolution but after a request for information, she said to them that she had occurred to know in “a newspaper” that the judgment did not come.

“It was total impunity. We wanted to speak with Santiago Creel, that then was the president of the corresponding commission and it lay down to us to run… It was a negotiation PRI and BREAD. According to the Constitution, they would be forced to us to have answered in individual the criteria used for the nonorigin of the judgment and they never did it. The society does not interest to them.”

Alive denunciation

With respect to the penal denunciation before the PGR, it indicates the investigator whom he has understood is “in reserve”. And it explains that in that section subjects are concentrated in which the PGR does not find elements to say to come in favor or against and it is left the subject pending:

“For that reason I say that she is alive. The denunciation of facts by destruction, adulteration, modification of ground use in Teotihuacán, never has been acquitted nor the condemned. We do not want that they accuse to Franc if they do not find tests, the joke is that the inquiry becomes.”

For Echenique, although the case is not resolute legally, the denouncers gained “the judgment” in the facts because finally the seats were demolished and it had to expropiar the land to his owner, which demonstrates that the project raised by the archaeologist Matos “badly was planned”.

Nevertheless, in addition to the legal solution of the case, it requests is indicated to the people in charge from “embezzlement to the State Treasury”, because in addition to the resources destined to the special project in Teotihuacán, was necessary to spend money in the demolition of the seats.

Echenique informs that it has spoken with the present members of the union committee of the institute so that in January the denunciation is ratified. Nevertheless, it also express its skepticism before a possible opposite solution to again the civil employee. And it mentions that the brother of this one was named minister of the Supreme Court of Justice.

In effect, the 14 of last December the Senate of the Republic approved, with 94 votes in favor, that Fernando Franco Gon-zález-Rooms integrated itself to the Second Room of the High Court. Withdrawn of the Free School of Right, the judge was magistrate president of the Electoral Federal Court, from 1990 to 1996; undersecretary of Work and Social Forecast; Secretary General of the Meeting of Conciliation and Arbitration, and undersecretary of Political Development in the Secretariat of Interior.

The present union leader, Franco Cáceres, say on the other hand to this weekly magazine that companions of the INBA wish to give pursuit to the case. He also assures that if in the next assembly of the directive committee of the union of the INAH is decided to ratify the denunciation, one will become:

“By all means, because it is a denunciation arisen from our delegation. In addition the lady was one of the amanuenses of the Law Fernandez Garza in 1999… Teresa Franco directly was involved in the initiative, a quite neoliberal initiative.”

To say of Iván Franco, the present director of Beautiful Arts has the experience and contacts with industralists and groups of being able to impel projects and policies beyond her work to the front of the INBA, thus nondoubt that this one has been the reason of its appointment.

When Candle presented/displayed to Franc Gon-zález-Rooms, emphasized its experience in the matter of cultural patrimony and assured that, like part of his cultural policy, it will look for to put greater attention to that subject within the INBA.

One of the problems that will face in that sense the director is the centralization, because unlike the INAH – that counts on delegations in several cities of the country, the Direction of Architecture of the INBA only has office in the City of Mexico, little personnel and the own Federal Monument Law and Archaeological, Historical Zones and Artistic, because while the protected archaeological patrimony is in extensive, the artistic patrimony requires of a declaration for its protection. And as soon as they little count on more than 20 declared buildings patrimony in all the country. To thus it indicated arquitecta Sara it Topelson in February of 2003, in an extensive interview with Process.

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Maya Near Chichen See Apocalypto

January 2nd, 2007 by ejalbright

Here’s an amusing article about Maya in Xcatun, near Chichen, watching the movie Apocalypto.

From the Sunday Telegraph in London:

‘They’re nothing like us’

By Philip Sherwell, Sunday Telegraph

For nearly four decades, Professor Bartolomé Alonzo Caamal has pursued his mission to keep the Mayan language and culture alive. So the Mexican academic, whose forebears built one of the great civilisations of pre-Columbian America, was delighted when he heard that Mel Gibson’s next blockbuster would be a Mayan epic filmed in his native tongue.

Prof Caamal’s excitement, though, rapidly turned to disappointment when The Sunday Telegraph showed him Apocalypto, the Gibson film that topped the US box office when it opened this month and will be released in Britain on Friday.

The gore-filled extravaganza, made on a reported $50-$80 million budget, has helped resurrect the Australian star’s reputation, tarnished after the anti-Semitic tirade he launched when police stopped him for drunk driving in Los Angeles in July. But it does not look like winning him many friends among the Mayas who once ruled much of central America.

Prof Caamal had presumed the film would pay tribute to his ancestors’ impressive achievements in astronomy, mathematics and architecture. Instead, it portrays them as bloodthirsty savages intent on ripping hearts from kidnapped tribesmen atop the great temples of Chichen Itza on the Yucatan peninsula to appease angry gods.

When he was growing up in the 1950s in the small town of Tixmeuac, Prof Caamal could never have dreamed that a hit movie would be made in Yucatec, the language still spoken by an estimated 800,000 people in the region. But the donnish 56-year-old, who has taught the Mayan language since he was 20 and now oversees its instruction in schools in central Yucatan, shook his head with disbelief as he watched the film’s brutal excesses. “Such violence and sacrifice was certainly part of Mayan life,” he said. “But the Mayas were about much more than that.”They were a spiritual people, a philosophical people, a people who believed in harmony with nature. Where is all that in this movie? I had hoped this film would capture our culture and civilisation, but it seems Mel Gibson wasn’t interested in those aspects of our history. I am very worried about the message this will send to people around the world.”

Apocalypto is not a film for the faint-hearted

The film takes the sort of historical shortcuts for which Hollywood is famous: juxtaposing the collapse of the Mayan civilisation, which reached its zenith around 600AD and declined a few centuries later, with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores in the 1500s. The combination of Gibson’s latest off-screen troubles, the film’s extreme violence and use of a little-known language guarantee that it will be one of the most-talked about releases of the new year.

Such headline-grabbing controversy has, perhaps unsurprisingly, not reached the tiny farming settlement of Xkatun where 120 Mayas scrape a living farming corn a few miles down a potholed road through thick rainforest from the tourist hotels and ruined splendours of Chichen Itza. Here, in a mud and stone yard behind a thatched wooden hut, a group of locals gathered for an impromptu screening of the movie on a laptop computer. Only one, a young man, had heard of Mel Gibson before.

The clucking chickens and a pig suckling her young added to the incongruity of the scene as women in traditional costumes and a woodcutter with an axe over his shoulder followed the bloody thrills and spills with bemused fascination. To their disappointment, they struggled to understand the pronunciation of Yucatec – a language of pops and clicks – by the mainly American Indian cast, and instead followed the dialogue on the Spanish subtitles. Felipa Chay Uc, a diminutive 70-year-old whose only previous movie-going experience was watching religious films at the village’s tiny white-washed church, burst out in nervous laughter at several of the more lurid scenes but insisted she enjoyed it.

Her daughter-in-law, Juliana Cen Poot, 49, shared Prof Caamal’s fears about the portrayal of their ancestors. “I remember being told about the history of sacrifice when I was a young girl, but you just need to look at Chichen Itza to understand that the Mayas did many other things. We were not just killers. We had many traditions,” said Mrs Cen Poot, who makes the traditional dresses and sells them for the equivalent of £10 in the market town of Valladolid.

There is no doubting the role sacrifice played in Mayan culture. At Chichen Itza, on the stone walls surrounding the arena where ancient ball games could last for two or three days, carvings depict decapitated warriors with blood spurting from their necks, while other structures are adorned with rows of skulls chiselled into the facades. But the Mayas did not indulge in sacrifices on the industrial scale of the Aztecs.

Mayan groups had hoped the movie would generate interest in a people who built great pyramids and temples across Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, but now fear it will only give the impression of a savage culture. Ignacio Ochoa, the director of the Guatemalan Nahual Foundation that promotes Mayan culture, said: “Gibson replays, in glorious big budget Technicolor, an offensive and racist notion that Maya people were brutal to one another long before the arrival of Europeans and thus they deserved, in fact, needed, rescue.

“Apocalypto focuses on a long, stunningly filmed and often implausible jungle chase scene, blood spurting with theatrical excess, interlaced by a love story. It is not for the faint-hearted – it aims for the rare combination of tugging at audiences’ heart strings while the real things are ripped out on screen.

But in recent interviews, Gibson has defended the movie, denying he ignored the culture and saying the violence seems more noticeable because of his directorial skills. “I was trying to be true to what was going on in that culture at that time,” he said. “You can’t get away from the violent aspect of it. It was a violent world, so you have to tackle the subject, but I don’t think it is as violent as Braveheart. Everyone likes to beat up on me for the violence but I have fooled people into thinking it is more violent than it is because they care about the characters.

“I show you temples and incredible architecture. It’s there if you look. In the end, though, the main objective is to tell that story.” Gibson has long been a lightning rod for criticism for his on- and off-screen behaviour. He has fought a protracted battle with alcohol abuse and is a fundamentalist Catholic who has been dogged by criticisms of racism and homophobia.

Yet Apocalypto has earned some impressive reviews and a degree of rehabilitation for Gibson in Tinseltown.

That means little in Xkatun. For the Mayas to see their history appropriated for the profit of others is nothing new: many work for meagre wages at foreign-owned tourist resorts around Cancun, where holidaymakers encounter the indigenous “culture” in mock villages and evening performances by dancers in head-dresses and face paint. They are very much second-class citizens in the land they once owned, farming small plots or working as day labourers. “One thing’s for sure,” Mrs Cen Poot said. “We won’t see any benefit from all this fuss.”

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