March 3rd, 2010 by ejalbright
The association representing hundreds of vendors who flood into Chichen Itza every day to sell crafts and trinkets to tourists has vowed to begin blockading Chichen Itza over the next month in protest of the forthcoming Elton John concert April 3.
While the vendor association maintains that the Elton John concert is illegal, of greater concern is the current ownership situation of Chichen Itza. The land under many of the most significant monuments is owned by Hans Thies Barbachano, who the association is claiming discriminates against them.
In retaliation for actions by Thies Barbachano and the Elton John concert, the vendors are threatening to protest and set up blockades to prevent tourists from seeing Chichen Itza. In a statement, Viveldo Pech Moo, representing the vendors, demanded that a dialogue be opened with Yucatan states Patronato Cultur and the federal Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), which co-manage Chichen Itza, and with Thies Barbachano, so that the indigenous Maya “are taken into account when it comes to tasteless performances,” referring, presumably, to Elton John.
The purpose of the protests and blockades will be to bring attention to the plight of the Maya, who desire to be able to sell their wares at Chichen Itza without interference and, at least according to the news source La Jornada, to be able to see the concert for free, if they so desire.
Meanwhile, INAH has released a statement in response to a declaration by three members of its staff representing hundreds of workers that holding concerts at Chichen Itza is illegal. According to INAH spokesman Julio Castrejon, steps will be taken to insure installation of the concert stage and audience platforms will not affect the archaeological remains of Chichen Itza. “We will protect all archaeological remains.”
Organizers of the concert have also argued that a portion of the proceeds from the Elton John concert and previous concerts held there (Placido Domingo, Sarah Brightman) go to the communities affected and to augment research efforts at Chichen Itza.
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