Dec 23, 2012

Mayan Oxlajuj Baktun: End of an Era, More of the Same

Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 7

December 20-21, 2012

Fuente: Mi Mundo

Por James Rodriguez

Zaculeu, Huehuetenango, Guatemala – Events in the Guatemalan northern city of Huehuetenango during the much-awaited end of the Mayan Oxlajuj Baktun provide a clear reflection of the divisions and challenges faced by Mayan communities today. The media exploited erroneous apocalyptic rumors, the government and business sectors viewed it as an opportunity to gain economically through tourism, and progressive groups seized the opportunity “to strengthen ancestral wisdom and never-ending search for balance” while vindicating what seem never-ending struggles for justice, inclusion, and self-determination. 

Events in the Guatemalan northern city of Huehuetenango during the much-awaited end of the Mayan Oxlajuj Baktun provide a clear reflection of the divisions and challenges faced by Mayan communities today. The media exploited erroneous apocalyptic rumors, the government and business sectors viewed it as an opportunity to gain economically through tourism, and progressive groups seized the opportunity “to strengthen ancestral wisdom and never-ending search for balance” while vindicating what seem never-ending struggles for justice, inclusion, and self-determination. (1)

December 20, 2012:

16:45. Official government-sponsored activities began on December 20th in Huehuetenango’s central park. Here, María Mercedes Escobar, 2012 Departmental Queen of Huehuetenango, dances during an event called “Mayan Queens”. According to a United Nations Development Program report from 2011, Huehuetenango has an indigenous Mayan population of 64%, equivalent to 725,000 people, from which 85% live in poverty or extreme poverty. (2)

Soldiers from the 5th Infantry Brigade, stationed in Mariscal Gregorio Solares base, Huehuetenango, place checkpoints outside the ancient Mayan site of Zaculeu.

The population of Huehuetenango suffered brutal violence during the 36-year Internal Armed Conflict (1960-1996) as numerous massacres were carried out against the civilian population, mostly by the Armed Forces. While the 1996 Peace Accords prohibit the Guatemalan State from using its Armed Forces for internal security issues, three successive governments have continually violated this pactby having Army personnel patrol the streets.

17:51. Wilson Romero Tojín De León (left), 20, and Gaspar Hernández Mendoza, 18, both soldiers in the 5th Infantry Brigade, light up candles previous to the Oxlajuj Baktun celebrations in the ancient Mayan city of Zaculeu. Hundreds of soldiers in plain clothes served as security personnel throughout the event.

18:08. A Mayan spiritual ceremony takes place in Zaculeu’s main plaza on the eve before the end of the Oxlajuj (or 13) Baktun Era. According to the long Mayan Calendar, a Baktun consists of 5,129 years.

Agustín García López (middle), Ajq’ij, or Mayan Spiritual Guide, from San Sebastian Huehuetenango, leads celebrations in the ancient Mayan site of Zaculeu. Agustín states: “I was selected by our ancestors through my dreams so that I could ask our mother earth and father sun for the wellbeing of our community. I am here to thank the Sun for having shone on us the past 5200 years, and to welcome him in these next 5200 years to come.”

Santiago Ordoñez, Ajq’ij from San Idelfonso Ixtahuacán, carries out an act of blessing or healing during the ceremony.

María Pérez Domingo, Ajq’ij from San Idelfonso Ixtahuacán affiliated to Oxlajuj Ajpop, prays to the four cardinal points.

5,200 candles were placed on the temples of Zaculeu, each representing a year of the Baktun cycle.

6:11. A Mayan spiritual ceremony takes place in Zaculeu’s main plaza to welcome the Sunrise on the last day of the Oxlajuj Baktun.

6:46. Anselma Robledo Bravos, 16, Tectitec Mayan, takes a photograph of the events in the Main Plaza with her cell phone from the top of Structure 9.

Anselma states: “I think it was the foreigners who invented this whole end-of-the-world scenario so they could make movies and profit from it.”

7:22. María Pérez Domingo, Ajq’ij from San Idelfonso Ixtahuacán affiliated to Oxlajuj Ajpop, carries out healing and blessing sessions during the ceremony. “I guess God wanted me to drink a lot today” she states, since part of her sessions involve the drinking and spitting of liquor.

Tectitec Mayan women hired by the Ministry of Public Health, official organizer of the event in Zaculeu, dance around a bonfire that serves as the center of the Mayan spiritual ceremony.

A girl stands in front of hand-woven morrales, or satchels, for sale that read “Guate 13 Baktun”. The two lines with three dots above represent the number 13 as written in ancient Mayan scripture.

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