Re: Different prejudices

John Pastore (venture@CANCUN.RCE.COM.MX)
Wed, 24 Apr 1996 20:29:25 +0000

On 24 Apr 96 at 14:49, Jelmer Eerkens wrote:

> Just a note (you've probably already had multiple responses): Now I
> of European ancestry and grew up in middle class America, but I did
> go to an integrated junior & high school in Los Angeles in the mid
> 80's, so I am no authority, BUT, it seems that there must be
> different ways of using the terms Latino and Latina in different
> parts of the world, for I regularly hear people of Mexican decent (I
> believe of part indegenous background as well) refer to themselves
> or thier community as Latino/Latina.

Hola Jelmer,

"Ladino" and "Latino" are used differently. Here in Mexico, and
particularly the Yucatan the terms "Ladino" and "Latino" have no
relation to how the same terms may be used elsewhere no matter what
the descent. It has its own history.

Around 1842 a war broke out here in the Yucatan called the "War of
the Castes (or races)". It lasted, though more progressively
sporadic, until the early 1920's. The present Mexican State of
Quintana Roo previous to 1974 was a federal territory, because the
region had become a bastion of Maya in nearly impenetrable jungle.
The earliest highway from Mexico into even the western side of the
Yucatin Peninsula wasn't even built until around 1962. At any rate
this war was waged between the Maya and the descendents of the
Conquistadors made of Creoles (Spaniards born in the New World
[there was even a distinction for Spaniards born in the Old World:
peninsulares]) and Mestizos (mixed: Spanish and Indian [and even
futher distinctions: mulattos: Spanish and Black, pardos: Black and
Indian]). The war itself was more devasting than the American Civil
War. The term "Ladino" was originally used by the Maya of those times
to indicate the Creole and Mestizo forces against them. Historians
later interchanged the term with "Latino". There are very few, if
any, Creoles left. To later be refered to, in literature and
hereabouts, as a "Ladino" or "Latino" became the equivelent of
denying the Mestizos the who of who they are: Mestizos, and it is
this metizaje (mestizo-hood), no matter what the individual native
ancestry might have been and Spanish, that unifies the Mexicans with
a common identity and makes them Mexican --not Latins. The terms
mulatto and pardo are no longer used today either, and there are
very few, if any, of them left too. What Aztecs, Conquistadors,
Yuacatec armies of Mestizos commanded by Creoles, and even Mexican
armies could not do, by the way: assert or maintain dominion along
the eastern seaboard of the Yucatan Peninsula, today's Quintana Roo,
tourism did with the construction of Cancun in 1974.

To have said "derrogatory" was probably too strong. To say "Ladino"
or "Latino" today would be the equivelent of simply not recogonizing
to whom you might be speaking to or of. The listener, be that person,
Mestizo, more than likely would simply stare at you wondering who
you were talking about, and why Latin was making some kind of a
distinction. They might probably think you were talking about the
monks of times past. If they realized you were speaking of them, they
would politely correct you and say: "No, Yo soy Mexicano."

Ka Xiik Keech Ya Utzil,

John Pastore
Writer/Guide in 'El Mayab'
("The Mayan Homeland")