The invasion of the traveling ones
By Ana Lourdes Esquivel
Every day [at Chichen Itza], the tourists suffer plus the insistence of the traveling retailers in the archaeological zones, to the degree that Luciano Cedillo, chief of a main directorate of the National Institute of Anthropology and Historia (INAH), thinks that the informal commerce already is affecting negatively the experience of the tourists who visit these zones, still more that the own contamination of environment.
The INAH, that coordinates 216 open archaeological zones to the public, considers that TeotihuacÃ¡n, Palenque and ChichÃ©n ItzÃ¡ are three of the sites with greater problems generated by the ambulantaje. And the complaints of the tourists, say, have extended to the foreigner.
Gordon Viberg, president of Consejo Tourist Enterprise Nacional (CNET), is sorry that the tourists are besieged by the salesmen since they lower of the buses, to the degree that some have chosen to cancel their visits.
ChichÃ©n ItzÃ¡ is the place with greater problems of informal commerce. There one calculates that there is between 500 and 1,000 salesmen and is the only archaeological zone that it has to the traveling ones within its nuclear perimeter.
In 2004, the craftsmen obtained a temporary permission to install their small positions in the ground within the archaeological zone. Its decision to stay inside the Mayan center and its insistent behavior with the tourists is a clear evidence of the war of interests that has been declared within the second visited archaeological zone more of the country (more than 1.04 million tourists in 2005), after TeotihuacÃ¡n (1.8 million).
“In ChichÃ©n ItzÃ¡, we are the craftsmen who we are harassed by the interests of the great industralists”, says Susano Pechcem of Piste and descended from several generations of craftsmen. Susano competes with craftsmen of other 15 towns that also offer their crafts in ChichÃ©n ItzÃ¡. Of the invasion of Asian merchandise, Pechcem directly blames Fernando Barbachano Gomez Rul, member of the family who has lands where the archaeological zone is based. “They have handled the archaeological zone at will”.
The Barbachano family also is owner of a hotel that has direct access to the archaeological zone. [The family claims that ownership of the land gives them the right to operate gift shops within the zone] Expansion sought comment from the family to dispute this version, but did not obtain an answer.
The deputy Jorge Esma Bazan, president of the Commission of Cultural Patrimony of the Congress yucateco, considers it necessary to distinguish the retailers of handmade articrafts versus those selling reproductions. Pechcem thinks that the craftsmen would accept to be relocated and to pay taxes by their sales, but before must be solved other problems, as the one of the competition of other salesmen whose merchandise are not made in the place.
The INAH has a plan to solve the problems of possession of the Earth (and of that form to extend the social benefit of the tourist activity) and to apply regulatory measures that avoid the ambulantaje. For the case of Yucatan, the Institute has 40 governing plans for he himself number of archaeological sites, among them that archaeological zone.
Also it looks for alternatives so that the archaeological private land sites located are part of the national patrimony. But to acquire the property, it is necessary to count on the necessary budget.
In 2005, the legislators who then integrated the Commission of Culture, emitted an agreement point to exhort to the Secretariat of Property to give to the INAH 28.4 million pesos of the Budget of Debits to acquire the lands deprived in archaeological zones and other 12.6 million to make interdisciplinary projects of incorporation of communities in archaeological zones. But the resources never were released.
The Mayan retailers request that the totality of territories of the archaeological zone is expropiadas and that the hotel of the Barbachano family is turned an anthropology museum that exhibits Mayan pieces. Also they propose that the government assumes the control of all the accesses to ChichÃ©n ItzÃ¡ and that the town of Piste can offer tourist lodging and other services.
But they do not want to go out this zone. “We are not arranged to leave our own earth. It would be a chaos and we are arranged to conduct protest battles as the closing of highways”, notices Pechcem craftsman. “We understand that this zone is patrimony of the humanity but we want to be included in the policies that are applied in this place.”
The federal government has his own plan. The director of Regional Programs of Sectur, Juan Carlos Arnau, comments that there is a project to construct a space outside the archaeological zone for the sale of crafts and to offer complementary productive alternatives for the local communities. This plan makes in coordination with the government of Yucatan and diverse municipal governments. Account with supports of National Geographic and contributions of the social sector.
The project glides to offer presentations of the form of life of the Mayans, spectacles, recreational activities, Mayan weave exhibition infantile, games, foods and drinks and strolls in cart, among other activities. There is no a defined date to begin these works, but one hopes that it is this same year. The intention is that the works are concluded in 2010 and, in agreement with the first first draft, the considered investment will be of 50 million pesos and would benefit 400 retailers, local craftsmen and restauranteros.