Tepoztlan, Mexico in the news

Mike Salovesh (t20mxs1@CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU)
Tue, 26 Sep 1995 00:13:57 -0500

On Mon, 25 Sep 1995, ray scupin <scupin@LINDENWOOD.EDU> asked for more
information about the situation in "Tepotzlan" after hearing a brief
report on NPR and seeing a brief TV report. I thought my answer might
be of interest to the list.

Dear Ray:

I've been following the Tepoztlan (note spelling!) story in Mexico City
newspapers. The most extensive coverage there has been in La Jornada,
a left/opposition paper. If you (or somebody you know at Lindenwood)
handle Spanish, La Jornada is on the Web--which is how I read it daily.

URL: http://serpiente.dgsca.unam.mx/jornada/index.html

You make passing reference to ". . . the classic studies of Lewis and
others . . . " Like, I suppose, Robert Redfield? [Tepoztlan: A Mexican
Village; U of Chicago Press.] I also find it useful to refer interested
students to Redfield's _Peasant Society and Culture_, U of C Press, mid-
1950's because it contains a long consideration by Redfield about how and
why his picture of Tepoztlan and that given by Oscar Lewis are so
divergent that it sounds like they went to two totally different places.

(My own short slant on that one, based on having known them both, is that
Redfield was a gentleman and Lewis was a ringtailed bastard. Even if I
had known nothing about the town of Tepoztlan, I would have expected RR to
come up with a study that looked at what brought people together while OL
was bound to come up with a study that looked to sources of tension and

The brief story about Tepoztlan today is that the 1992 changes in the
Mexican constitution made it possible for communal lands to be alienated;
a multinational corporation grabbed off a slice of those lands and plans
to build a golf course; irrigation of the greens on that course is
projected to use about six times as much water (from a limited water
table) than is available to the whole town for all other purposes--at
least until the aquifer is exhausted; and a lot of the people who earn
their livings from farming the communal lands object for several cogent
reasons. Among those reasons are that disposing of the land in the first
place apparently was not supported by a majority of the community; that
there was a helluva lot of corruption--involving, among others,
ex-President Salinas's brother-in-law and members of his family--in
getting approval for the project; and the comuneros will very quickly
lose their livelihoods if the project goes through. As you say, an
interesting case.

-- mike salovesh <salovesh@niu.edu>
anthropology department
northern illinois university