Indian Dancers, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico, 1990

Mexico has a peculiar love-hate relationship to its indigenous peoples. The great Aztec origins of the country are celebrated, and rich cultural traditions are presented -- sometimes in sanitized version -- to foreign tourists. Most Mexicans are Mestizo -- of mixed indigenous and European blood, and so have an indigenous ancestry. Yet throughout colonial times and the modernization of the 19th century under Porfirio Díaz, purely indigenous peoples were looked down upon as inferior, backward, and as an obstacle to "progress." These attitudes continue today and were an important factor in the conflict in Chiapas that has continued since January 1, 1994.

© 1990, 2002 Richard McGuire

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