Archive for January, 2012

UPDATE: INAH union launches petition protesting McCartney Chichen Itza concert

January 29th, 2012 by ejalbright

The union representing archaeologists of INAH, the federal agency that oversees Mexico’s ruins such as Chichen Itza, have begun collecting signatures for a petition seeking to dissuade Paul McCartney from performing at the Yucatan’s ancient Maya city.

The union has also drafted a letter to the former Beatle explaining its position, which states, in part:

Sir Paul McCartney, you enjoy great public fame due to your musical and business talents. With the former, you changed and shook the ancient constraints of two-faced Victorian morality … The music and lyrics of you and John Lennon, as well as George Harrison and Ringo Starr, contributed to the new configurations of social imagination of much of the western world.

These actions and emotions projected as transgressors to the status quo. Those who listened and shared your rebellion assumed your many diverse ways and borrowed them for some circumstances, just like “déjalo ser” — “Let It Be” …

To give a concert at the archaeological zone of Chichén Itzá, violates the constitutional order of the Mexican Republic … The archaeological site of Chichén Itzá is a national asset, in common use and public domain, attached to the EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM OF MEXICAN SO NO PARTICULAR PERSON OR GROUP MAY profit from it … it would be unlawful and illegal.

The ignorance of Mexican law does not excuse compliance, if the governor of Yucatán, Ivonne Ortega Pacheco and her subordinates did not mention the constitutional provision on the archaeological site in question, it is obvious that it was because they intended to profit economically and politically with their concert.

On the other hand, the archaeological zone of Chichén Itzá, has enormous significance for Mexicans and is a unique study area for understanding the different stories of the western world. For this reason, teachers INAH researchers working to understand, preserve and protect, rather than exploit and squander, like exotic scenery for use and enjoyment of a few.

Now you know that the concert in Chichen Itza is illegal, illegitimate, and contrary to the interests of Mexicans. If, despite this, you perform [the concert], it demonstrates to us that it is indeed a violation of the order, always and when the transgression benefits you, all under the pretext of ‘let it be’.”

Your answer is in the wind.

McCartney is playing Chichen Itza sometime in late March or April, according to Yucatan’s governor. The full letter and petition can be found HERE.

Previously: INAH Workers Say ‘No, No, No’ to Paul McCartney at Chichen Itza

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INAH Workers Say ‘No, No, No’ to Paul McCartney at Chichen Itza

January 28th, 2012 by ejalbright

You can’t blame them for trying, even though it is probably hopeless. INAH archaeologists and others are once again going to attempt to stop a concert at Chichen Itza.

INAH is the federal agency in charge of Chichen Itza. From the beginning, the advisory council consisting of noted Mexican archaeologists as well as others from within the rank and file have tried to stop the concerts, the next of which will probably be former Beatle Paul McCartney in early spring. Despite public protests, complaints to the media, even legal action, the concerts have continued, so far three in the past few years — Placido Domingo, Sarah Blackman, and Elton John.

Recently Yucatan Governor Ivonne Ortega Pacheco tweeted that the McCartney concert has been confirmed, although no date has been set. And like clockwork, INAH workers have begun gearing up to stop the concert before it gets off the ground.

A few days ago Reforma reported on efforts by INAH archaeologists to thwart the state’s plans to host the McCartney show. Consejo de Arqueología (Archaeological Council), an advisory body made up of prominent Mexican archaeologists, has repeatedly tried to stop the concerts, succeeding only in getting the state of Yucatan which sponsors them to limit seating.

On two occasions the union representing INAH archaeologists has unsuccessfully brought legal action to stop them and is expected to do so again. The union claims the concerts are in violation of Ley Federal sobre Monumentos y Zonas Arqueológicos, Artísticos e Histórico and the Ley General de Bienes Nacionales, which prohibits private use of public areas such as Maya ruins. “The archaeological sites are patrimonial property, that means no one can profit from them,” said historian Felipe Echenique, leader of the INAH union.

Yesterday the Diario de Yucatan reported from an archaeological conference in Merida, capital of the state, that one of the prominent members of the archaeology profession in Mexico, Afredo Barrera Rubio, called what is happening at Chichen Itza “irrational exploitation.” The concerts and other activities, including the revenue the state and federal government receives from tickets to enter the archaeological zone, are not being distributed wisely. Communities surrounding Chichen Itza, for example, do not benefit.

Money generating activities at Chichen Itza, he charged, benefit very few and primarily private tourist interests, instead of being used for culture and education, as is required by law.

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Paul McCartney at Chichen Itza? Maybe. But No Juan Gabriel …

January 9th, 2012 by ejalbright

Juan Gabriel (via Wikipedia)

If Mexican superstar singer Juan Gabriel shows up at Chichen Itza, it will be as a tourist, not as a performer.

Over the past few weeks there has been a minor furor over comments by Yucatan Gov. Ivonne Ortega Pacheco’s that the state was negotiating to bring Paul McCartney to Chichen Itza, possibly as early as this spring. In the past Gabriel was another artist touted to perform at the ancient Maya city, but Gov. Ortega Pacheco told Yucatan al Minuto that because of high costs, there will be no Gabriel concert.

Gabriel was originally slated to play Chichen in 2010, which then slipped to 2011 and now has slipped completely off the table. It now appears McCartney will be the next Chichen Itza concert, following Placido Domingo, Sarah Brightman, and Elton John.

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Ticket Prices Increased at Chichen Itza

January 5th, 2012 by ejalbright

The State of Yucatan and the government of Mexico have increased ticket prices to Chichen Itza by 7 to 8 percent, reports the Diario de Yucatan.

Foreign tourists now pay Mexican $177 ($12.86 US) to enter the site while Mexican residents pay $125. The increase represents less than one US dollar based on today’s currency exchange rates. Because of recent devaluation of the peso against the U.S. dollar, tourists from the United States actually will be paying less then they did one year ago.

For foreign tourists, prices increased 11 pesos. The $177 is split so that 121 pesos from the ticket price go to CULTUR, Yucatan’s state agency that oversees Chichen, and 56 pesos to INAH, the federal agency in charge.

For foreign tourists who wish to see the light-and-sound show in the evening, the ticket price is now Mexican $191.

For Mexican citizens and resident aliens, tickets have been increased by 9 pesos, the bulk of the increase going to INAH. The ticket price for children is Mexican $5,and for seniors with a card from the federal Inapan, $34.

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How Will Yucatan Fill Two New Maya Museums?

January 1st, 2012 by ejalbright

Graphic via Diario de Yucatan

The state of Yucatan is building two new museums dedicated to the region’s rich history with the ancient Maya, the Museo del Mundo Maya (Museum of the Maya World) in the capital Merida and the Palacio de la Civilizacion Maya in Yaxcaba, a few miles from Chichen Itza. Both museums promise to be state of the art and according to published plans, will contain artifacts from the ancient Maya civilization.

Merida’s museum is scheduled to open in September (but may be ready by as soon as June). The facility will house 750,000 objects, according to plans released by the state of Yucatan. Exactly what artifacts and from where, no one who is speaking publicly knows. Those that do know are not talking. When the newspaper Proceso asked for specifics from state officials from Cultur, the agency overseeing the museum, the newspaper reportedly was told that the question was still being studied, “but assured that it possessed archaeological pieces.”

However, the state of Yucatan owns no artifacts of the ancient Maya, because, by law, it cannot. All artifacts belong to the people of Mexico and are managed by the federal government.

When Governor Ivonne Ortega Pacheco dedicated the site of the Palacio museum in Yaxcaba two years ago, she said it would contain artifacts excavated from the Cenote Sagrado (Sacred Cenote) at Chichen Itza. Those artifacts removed in two expeditions in 1961-2 and 1967-8 are in the possession of the federal government. There are other collections from excavations of the Cenote Sagrado conducted in 1904-1910 that are held by the federal government and by other museums around the world.

The state has also said that artifacts for the museums will come via “acquisitions, donations, and loans.” What follows is an examination of possible sources of artifacts and the challenges facing the state to acquire them.


The federal agency that controls Mexico’s patrimony such as Maya artifacts is the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia (National Institute of Anthropology and History, better known as INAH) and would be by far the easiest source for artifacts to exhibit.

INAH already operates several museums in Yucatan state, including the impressive Museo de Antropologia y Historia on Merida’s version of the Champs Élysées, Paseo de Montejo. However, the artifacts on display represent just a fraction of the collection. Thousands more are stored in the basement of the museum and in warehouses in Yucatan and in Mexico. INAH anthropologist Ivan Franco told Proceso that he suspected these would provide some of the collections the state intended to exhibit in its museums.

He added that the rank and file in INAH are opposed to lending archaeological treasures to the state, but that the director of INAH, Alfonso de Maria y Campos, would ignore his staff’s wishes and will reach an agreement to provide artifacts for the new museums.

Many of the most spectacular pieces from the Maya civilization are on display in Mexico City in the national museum. Beautiful gold and carved jade artifacts from Chichen Itza’s Cenote Sagrado can be found there. Also, the most famous statue of the ancient Maya, the Chac Mool, which also came from Chichen Itza is there.

Museums Outside Mexico

Artifacts from the ancient Maya civilization that once flourished in Yucatan can be found in museums around the world, but it is unlikely any will loan artifacts to Yucatan. As a curator of a recent exhibit of Maya artifacts in the United States confided to me, “This exhibition cannot travel to Mexico because there is a law that would require them to repatriate any object that came in.” It made him sad, he said, to think that because of this law the only way people of the originating country can see the artifacts is to travel internationally.

Mexico has the law of repatriation because so many of its artifacts have been and continue to be illegally excavated and smuggled out of the country. However the law also pertains to objects that were taken from Mexico prior to enactment of the law, as well as artifacts that the government of Mexico allowed to be exported.

One of the best collections and the most controversial are those in Harvard’s Peabody Museum and Chicago’s Field Museum from Chichen Itza’s Cenote Sagrado. Edward Thompson, an American, excavated the artifacts early in the last century. Mexico charged Thompson with theft, but the nation’s supreme court ruled in 1944 that Thompson had broken no laws. These collections would be perfect for the new Yucatan museums, but because of acrimony by Mexican archaeologists, it is doubtful they will ever be loaned to Mexico under any circumstances.

Private Collections

INAH’s Franco said he suspects the state may be negotiating with private individuals who will donate pieces from their own collections. One can own ancient Maya artifacts in Mexico provided they were not looted from a site. All artifacts must be registered with INAH. Most private collectors don’t.

Franco hinted that these illegal private collections might be donated “anonymously” to the state, although he has no direct knowledge that the state is negotiating with any individuals.

Wherever the state plans to acquire artifacts, they will find that “filling a museum is not easy,” warned Franco.


Confirmed: Maya Museum in Merida Under Construction

Maya Museum to Open in Merida in June

Yucatan Signs Contract for Merida Maya Museum

Construction Begins on Museum Near Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza Museum, Bullet Train Stalled in Mexican Congress

Video Explains Concept Behind New Chichen Itza Museum

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