Archive for March, 2007

Mexican Government Cover-Up about Covering Up

March 22nd, 2007 by ejalbright

On Monday, the Secretariat of Public Health issued a warning against “recharging energy” by sitting out in the sun for extended periods at places such as Chichen Itza. By midday today, however, news articles that once had mentioned the practice of visiting the ancient city had been stripped of all reference to Chichen Itza. The official press release from the Secretariat also makes no mention of the annual equinoctial pilgrimage where visitors from all over Mexico and the world sit out in the sun for hours to watch Kukulcan crawl down the side of El Castillo.

As of noon today, only one news organization has left the article untouched. According to, “This practice can be more dangerous than it seems and, instead of “loading one of energy”, the only thing these people can expect is a sunburn and, even, the appearance of the skin cancer.”

The official press release now simply states that people should not expose themselves to the sun for more than 30 minutes at a stretch.

A vast global conspiracy? You be the judge.

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Human Batteries not Allowed to Recharge

March 21st, 2007 by ejalbright

Who knew that human beings were little more than human batteries that need to recharge once a year? And that the ancient Mesoamericans kindly provided us with recharging stations, better known as pyramids?

From all over the planet, New Agers will arrive by the thousands to visit sites all over Mexico and Central America, from Teotihuacan to Chichén Itzá, to stand at the top of a pyramid at noon on the equinox and receive a full charge of energy. Except that INAH, Mexico’s agency in charge of the ancient monuments, won’t let them.

Clambering all over the monuments destroys them for future generations, INAH maintains. Therefore pyramids such as Chichen Itza’s El Castillo are off limits, regardless of one’s beliefs. In a recent report, INAH noted that even though some people believe that the equinox is a time of great energy, scientific studies have demonstrated there is no difference in the solar energy one receives on any other day. And while INAH “respeta profundamente las creencias personales” (deeply respects the personal beliefs) of all its visitors, no recharging will be permitted on the monuments.

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Spring Equinox Arrives

March 20th, 2007 by ejalbright

Spring springs today at 6:07 p.m., and as everyone knows, it is also the time that Kukulcan slithers down the face of El Castillo at Chichen Itza.

The famous light and shadow effect actually occurs in the afternoon for a few days before and after the equinox. Yesterday was the first official day of celebration, and one in which the gates of archaeological zone were thrown open to Mexican nationals (foreigners, however, still had to pay admission). An estimated crowd of 7,500, including the governor of Yucatan and his family, showed up at Chichen to watch the spectacle.

This year, Eduardo Perez Heredia, director of the archaeological zone, got the nod to narrate the event for the crowd.

The celestial event occurs again today, this time for real. Even larger crowds are anticipated. Be there or be square!

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Corporate World Pushes Chichen to be One of Seven

March 9th, 2007 by ejalbright

My translation engine tells me that Coca-Cola in Spanish is “Cocaine Tail.” No wonder more Coke is consumed in Latin America per capital than any other place in the world.

I learned this while translating an article in today’s La Revista about how Coca-Cola, Avis Rent-a-Car, Hollywood Cinemas and Bancomer will be promoting the vote for Chichen Itza to be named one of the new seven wonders of the world.

Coke will push the vote on cans of its product. Hollywood Cinemas will promote the vote on movie screens across the country. No word on what the bank will do–perhaps print a slogan on the backs of pesos?

And of course this blog will do everything in its power to get out the vote to the four people who read it. Go to and cast your ballot for Chichen Itza!

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Park Price Goes Up and New Fees Charged

March 7th, 2007 by ejalbright

If you want to bring a video camera into the Chichén Itzá archaeological zone, it will cost you an extra five pesos (approximately 45 cents US). In related news, you can now vote for Chichén Itzá to be one of the new seven wonders of the world at the site itself, but if you do, it will cost you another two pesos.

For some reason never made clear, INAH has been charging tourists $30 Mexican to bring a video camera into the Chichén Itzá archaeological zone. Last week that price went up to $35. This is on top of the current admission fee, which is $95–still a cheap price compared to other attractions around the world.

The two pesos to cast your vote for Chichén Itzá in inexplicable. If that is intended to recoup the cost of setting up a computer and Internet connection to vote, it is short-sighted. Better to eat the cost, and get as many votes as possible. If Chichén is named one of the world’s seven wonders, the investment will more than pay for itself.

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CNN Mexico Awakens to Chichen Disputes

March 7th, 2007 by ejalbright

CNN in Mexico, via the magazine Expansion, recently published a lengthy article on the conflicts at Chichen Itza between the property owners (the Barbachanos), INAH and the federal government, and the artesans and trinket salesman who invade the archaeological zone each day. Here are the highlights of that report, which you can read yourself in the original Spanish here.

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 Teotihuacán, Palenque and Chichén Itzá 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.

Chichén Itzá 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 Teotihuacán (1.8 million).

“In Chichén Itzá, 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 Chichén Itzá. 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 Chichén Itzá 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.

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‘Mystery Park’ Reborn as ‘The City’

March 5th, 2007 by ejalbright

“Mystery Park,” the Interlaken, Switzerland theme park with its replica of Chichen Itza’s El Castillo, is proposed to be reborn as a backpacker/adventure and tourism facility called “The City.”

The park closed last fall after three years of operation. Based on the writings of Erich von Daniken, the park’s theme centered on the concept that aliens visited Earth in the past and, in part, helped create the world’s greatest civilizations. Ever declining attendance and revenues forced the corporation behind the park to enter into bankruptcy earlier this year.

The idea is the brainchild of Lorenz Krebs of Jungfrau World Events, an event management company in Interlaken. Krebs has presented his concept to the creditors who hold the paper to Mystery Park. The facility would be marketed to the backpacking crowd, and use the existing theme park structures as well as the addition of hotel space. The replica of El Castillo, for example, would remain. If the creditors approve the idea, Krebs expects to begin construction of the hotel in June.

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