4.8.1-2: Chiapas, Mexico

Module 4, Section 8.1-2

Chiapas, Mexico

8.1 The State of Chiapas in southern Mexico is home to the Mayan Indian nation, a civilization that flourished in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras prior to the Spanish conquest. The troubles in Chiapas are a legacy of this conquest as the Mayans remain in effect a conquered people. As with the other ethnic conflicts, land and self-governance are the key issues. Mayan autonomy within Chiapas and Mexico would protect their culture while finally liberating the indigenous people from the rule of the heirs of the conquerors.

8.2 The payment of rent by the landholders would bring the genuine land reform that has otherwise escaped the Mexican attempts at reform by redistribution of land holdings. So long as the big landowners retain the rent, there is political pressure to preserve large estates and serf-like tenancy. When the privilege of retaining rent is taken out of the latifundia and rent is captured for the common good, then the people would obtain land on an equal footing. The best anti-poverty device would then be to abolish the taxation of labor and production, letting the rent revenue serve for the public finances.