Archive for July, 2008

Composition dedicated to Chichen Itza to be Premiered

July 29th, 2008 by ejalbright

Ramón Inclán
When Placido Domingo takes the stage at Chichen Itza this October, he will premiere a composition dedicated to the site written by Ramón Inclán.

Inclán, who lives in Los Angeles but was born in Mexican Baja, wrote “Chichén, Chichén Itzá” as a paean to the Maya people. The song is “a meditation for all those who love nature and beautiful landscapes” at a time when “the world is experiencing a devastation of ecosystems,” he told the Mexican news agency Notimex. He wrote it, he said, after Chichen Itza was named one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

“If asked what, at 70 years of age, would be my greatest desire, my answer would be that Plácido Domingo interpret this beautiful melody, because only then would the world recognize an urgent appeal to preserve the archaeological sites of the Maya,” he said.

Inclán is known to Spanish-speaking audiences for his songs “No Dejes de Quererme,” “La Máscara, Ya No Quiero Más Copas,” “A Besos,” “Regresar,” “La Esquina,” and “Julio César Chávez.”

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Turkey Festival near Chichen Itza

July 23rd, 2008 by ejalbright

Here is a remarkable video about a small, local custom performed not far from Chichen Itza. Dzityas, a town about 15 kilometers north, every year has a Turkey Festival, which looks like a cross between Carnaval and US Thanksgiving. See it here:

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Movie to be Shot at Chichen Itza … Really! Says Writer

July 17th, 2008 by ejalbright

Yet another prominent Mexican newspaper has published that a Yucatecan writer will have his story about Chichen Itza produced into a movie.

As previously reported (“Russell Crowe to Shoot Movie at Chichen Itza? You Decide!“), Alberto Hagar González announced last April that his script about the Maya will be a forthcoming film from Hollywood called “2012: The Prophecy of the Serpent.” Russell Crowe and Monica Belucci had been cast in the picture and filming would begin at the end of this year.

Now, three months later, Hagar González has resurfaced with new details about his project. First, the title has apparently changed and is now simply “The Prophecy of the Serpent.” Although he gives no reason for the name change, it could be because Roland Emmerich, director of “Independence Day,” is preparing a big-budget disaster film with the title “2012.”

Also, the writer is no longer touting the casting of Crowe or Belucci. Nor is the film even scheduled to begin shooting.

“I envision the involvement of Hollywood producer Malcolm Hitchcok and Sony Films and 20th Century Fox,” Hagar González told Mexican news agency Notimex. The setting for the film will be Chichen Itza and the cave of Balankanche, he said.

Hagar González told Notimex he was on his way to Miami to meet with executives at Univision, the Spanish-speaking cable network. Notimex will film the project, and has been negotiating with the Mexican government “to avoid misinterpretations” as the sites of Chichen Itza and Balankanche will be involved in the filming and they are under the care and protection of the Mexican government.

Even though the title has dropped 2012, that will still be the subject of the film, he said. On Dec. 22, 2012, the Maya calendar will complete a cycle of more than 5,000 years and start over again. The film will portay what happens on that day, and include diverse subjects such as global warming and overexploitation of natural resources.

The film will also refute the hackneyed myths that the Maya sacrificed virgins at the Sacred Well of Chichen Itza, or that they ate the intestines of their victims (a myth this author had never heard before).

“The successful Hollywood filmmaker Malcolm Hitchcok was the deciding factor that gave impetus to the production, so the filming could start in November or possibly in January 2009,” he said.

The crack team at American Egypt tried to find a Hollywood producer named Malcolm Hitchcock, but was unsuccessful. The Internet Movie Database, which lists the names of everyone who ever participated in a movie, from stars and directors to scriptgirl and gaffer, does not list anyone by that name. There is a Malcolm Hitchcock, however, whose credits include two turns as “assistant property master” in the 1988 films “Feds” and “Casual Sex?”

Expect more on this story as it develops.

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Even Dressed As Chichen Itza, Miss Mexico Only Manages Fourth Place

July 14th, 2008 by ejalbright

Elisa Najera, Miss Mexico, did not win the Miss Universe pageant. Even though she opened the show Sunday dressed as El Castillo, the great pyramid at Chichen Itza, it was not enough to sway the judges beyond fourth place.

Hammockman, who posts on occasion at Merida Insider (my personal favorite forum of all things dealing with the capital of Yucatan), recently started a new blog and jotted his musings regarding the tragic loss of Miss Mexico. He writes:

Later that night, while lying in bed, La Dulce asked if that was rain she heard. I said, “No, it’s the tears of Mexico for Elisa.”

You can read the rest of his post on Mexico’s tearful indignation HERE.

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Miss Universe Website Previews Mexico’s Chichen Itza Dress

July 11th, 2008 by ejalbright

The Website for the Miss Universe contest is previewing the national costumes to be worn by the contestants in the opening parade, giving us our first view of the Chichen Itza-inspired dress of Miss Mexico, Elisa Nájera.

Visitors to the Web site can vote for their favorite contestant or favorite costume, and the results will be included in the Miss Universe scoring. You can visit the Web site HERE and click on the box that says, “Vote for Best National Costume” to cast your ballot.

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Chichen Itza Adds Soundtrack for Tourists

July 10th, 2008 by ejalbright

Beginning next week, visitors to Chichen Itza will be able to rent audio devices that will play stories and music of the Maya culture.

“The goal is to provide the visitor a version of Maya life and customs that is endorsed by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH, the Mexican agency in charge of Chichen Itza),” a representative of the company that has the concession to rent the devices told the Mexican news agency AFP. The article did not name the promoter of the service, although the story originated out of Cancun.

The audio devices will be rented at the site for $10 US.

Unlike other similar places around the world, the device will not play a recorded tour of Chichen Itza, but a pastiche of music and stories from Maya culture.

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Being Named ‘Wonder of the World’ No Prize for Chichen Itza

July 8th, 2008 by ejalbright

Apparently there has been a mistake.

The newspaper Excelesior yesterday published an expose, revealing that Mexico has not received its prize money from having been named one year ago a “Wonder of the World.” The reporter, Sherice Sánchez, found mention on the Wonders of the World Web site that of the 6 million euros raised by the contest, “50 percent would go to the new wonders and other destinations for their care and conservation.”

Today Excelsior published an article that there will be no money for Chichen. In fact, there was never to be any money for Chichen for being named a “Wonder of the World.”

“The prize is being chosen as one of the seven wonders of the world,” Tia B. Viering, communications director for the New7Wonder Foundation, told Excelsior yesterday.

While the article never said the whole thing was much ado about nothing, it was. The New7Wonders Foundation never promised money to Chichen Itza; what it promised was to donate a portion of the proceeds from the contest to unnamed locations. According to its Web site, “Fifty percent of net revenue raised by the New7Wonders Project is to be used to fund monument documentation and conservation efforts worldwide.” (You can read it yourself HERE.)

The operative phrase is “net revenue.” That means profit. And if your organization has a lot of expenses, such as the salary of communications directors like Tia B. Viering, there’s a good chance there won’t be a lot of profit left in that 6 million euros.

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Governor Says Mexico Will “Regularize” Chichen Itza Private Ownership

July 7th, 2008 by ejalbright

During the recent controversy over staging a Placido Domingo concert at Chichen Itza, the governor of Yucatan revealed that significant progress has been made toward the acquiring of the property of the ancient city. In addition, a new term is being used to describe to the process: “Regularización.”

Much of the Chichen Itza archaeological zone is owned by the Barbachano family, which bought it in 1944 from the heirs of the previous owner, American Edward Thompson.

For more than a year, the government has been exploring options to acquire the property, including expropriation, that is, the action by a state to take property or to change the rights of the owners of property. “There are different options, one might be expropriation, but the owners are more than willing to reach a good agreement with the government for the good of the heritage of all Mexicans,” Yucatan Governor Ivonne Ortega Pacheco told El Universal late last month.

The word “expropriation” is a red flag to nations outside Mexico. In the late 1930s Mexico expropriated the oil industry within its borders, removing it from American and European ownership and paying only pennies on the dollar. As a result, Mexico regained its biggest resource, but it made it harder to attract investment by foreign interests which feared the government would expropriate again. Today, this fear has been somewhat allayed by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which specifically outlines remedies for expropriation, including payment by Mexico of full value of property or rights it takes (similar to the US version of expropriation, “eminent domain”).

The governor, in describing the process of bringing Chichen Itza under federal ownership, introduced a new term into the mix: “regularización,” that is, the process of bringing a existing irregular condition into conformance with the law.

“Regularize” is a word used commonly everywhere in the world except for the United States. The term describes the process to bring something illegal or out of conformance with the law into compliance. For example, Italy has a problem with illegal immigrants from the Phillipines. News accounts refer to them as “irregular” immigrants, and legislation has been proposed to “regularize” their stay by allowing any person from that country who has been working in Italy for 3 months or more to apply for a visa without penalty (although their employer must pay 3 months in back social security taxes). In Peru, the government plans to “regularize” vacant land, a process which gives it clear title so that it can be redistributed to farmers.

The use of the word “regularize” is of interest, as it implies that title or ownership of Chichen Itza is not in conformance with Mexican law.

It is possible that the governor misspoke. She is not directly involved in negotiations or discussions regarding transfer of ownership of Chichen Itza, but has had conversations with members of INAH, the federal agency that oversees Chichen Itza, and the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP), which oversees INAH. She also discussed the situation with President Felipe Calderón before she took office, she said. It is also possible that she was misquoted. If not, however, this could represent a change in tactics by the Mexican government to transfer ownership of Chichen Itza.

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Miss Mexico to Wear Chichen Itza at Miss Universe Pageant

July 6th, 2008 by ejalbright

Photo, Nuestra Belleza

Miss Mexico, Elisa Nájera Gualito, will make her grand entrance at next month’s Miss Universe pageant wearing a costume named “Chichén Itzá, Maravilla del Mundo” (“Chichen Itza, Wonder of the World”).

She will be one of 68 young women competing for the title of Miss Universe in Vietnam, the first time that nation has hosted the contest.

No details were released as to what the costume will look like, but the idea came about when the ancient city was declared a “Wonder of the World” last year, much like Miss Universe, in an international popularity contest.

The contest will be broadcast worldwide from Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam on July 13.

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Organizers Closer to Bringing Placid Domingo to Chichen Itza

July 1st, 2008 by ejalbright

According to news reports, Mexico’s Secretary of Public Education will announce today or tomorrow permission to hold a Placido Domingo concert at Chichen Itza on Oct. 4.

But if one news account is to be believed, a group of INAH-related scientists have formally protested that permission to the president of Mexico, asking him to override the decision and prohibit the concert from taking place. Last week officials within the Secretariat of Public Education told reporters that even though INAH oversees and manages ancient sites such as Chichen Itza for the federal government, the responsibility for making the decision falls to education department, to which INAH reports. As a result, a group of individuals affiliated with INAH have sent a letter to President Felipe Calderon saying that the concert is “a transgression of the law,” according to Milenio.

Dr. Pedro Paz, Sergio Gomez, William Cordova, Felipe Echenique and Estela Martinez, and others have written that the concept that Secretariat of Public Education Josefina Vazquez Mota has the power “to authorize such a spectacle” is “a fallacy.” Federal law also prohibits anyone from conducting activities that generate a profit from sites of patrimony such as Chichen Itza.

The Milenio article also reports that the Council of Archaeology at INAH has been asked to render a second opinion. Last month the council rejected the proposed concert because of the danger it would pose to the monuments and because the ownership of the site is shared with the Barbachano family. However, according to Jorge Esma, director of CULTUR, the Yucatan Culture Trust, the latter condition is not an issue because he has a letter from Hans Thies Barbachano, owner of the property, and he has given permission to hold the concert.


Secretary of Education, Not INAH, to Decide on Placido Domingo Concert at Chichen Itza

UPDATE: Placido Domingo Concert at Chichen Itza Still up in Air, But Lots of Juicy Detail Revealed

INAH Heading for Showdown With State of Yucatan over Placido Domingo Concert?

INAH Council Issues Decision on Placido Domingo at Chichen Itza: ‘NO’

INAH Mum on Placido Domingo Concert at Chichen Itza

Placido Domingo to Sing At Chichen Itza October 4

Pavarotti Watches Kukulcan Drip Down El Castillo

When Pavarotti Sang to the Maya

All This, Over Pavarotti?

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