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Mayan temple damaged in end of world party

January 30, 2013

By: Ligia María


December 24, 2012. TOURISTS flocking to Guatemala for “end of the world” parties have damaged an ancient stone temple at Tikal, the largest archaeological site and urban centre of the Mayan civilisation.

“Sadly, many tourists climbed Temple II and caused damage,” said Osvaldo Gomez, a technical adviser at the site, which is located some 550 kilometres north of Guatemala City.

“We are fine with the celebration, but (the tourists) should be more aware because this is a (UNESCO) World Heritage Site,” he told local media.

Gomez did not specify what was done, although he did say it was forbidden to climb the stairs at the site and indicated that the damage was irreparable.

Temple II, which is about 38 metres high and faces the central Tikal plaza, is one of the site’s best known structures.

More than 7000 people visited Tikal on Friday to see native Mayan priests hold a colourful ceremony and light fires as the sun emerged to mark the new era.

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Mayan Priests Denied Access to Ceremonial Places in Guatemala

January 14, 2013

Original version, Spanish translation below

By: Ligia María

Traducción al Español, abajo

By: Renata Avila

December 22nd  2012. Guatemala, the heart of Mayan culture, has started their festivities for the 13 Baktun – the last cycle of the Mayan calendar, due to end on Friday, December 21, 2012. But sadly the celebrations were dominated by staged government shows which were neither led nor shared by indigenous communities or spiritual leaders.

On stage, non-indigenous peoples were wearing indigenous clothes in a folklore show while non-indigenous attendees from the Guatemalan elites were in the most important ceremonial Mayan center, Tikal, waiting for the new era to arrive. Indigenous peoples were left outside, were they were demonstrating, playing the traditional instrument marimba.

he Guatemalan Federations of Mayan Radios reported early in the morning of December 20 that authorities from the Mam – Mayan council were not allowed to enter the central plaza of the National Park Tikal, one of the places for 13 Baktun celebrations. Authorities from the Guatemalan Institute of Tourism denied them access, arguing that the area of ceremonies was cut off for the stage show.

Men and women coming from each corner of the country arrived early to start their traditional ceremonies but were left out until 11:45 pm when the religious authorities were allowed to practice their ancestral ceremonies. Indigenous attendees were in minority as they were neither invited nor allowed inside the main area. The audio can be downloaded here.

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Celebrating 2012, Maya Style

December 17, 2012

By Ligia María

By Danielle DeLuca

November 26, 2012

December 21, 2012, the end of the Oxlajuj B’ak’tun cycle of 5,128 years—not the end of the world, as commonly, falsely interpreted—is fast approaching, and for Maya in Guatemala, that means it is time to start celebrating. To commemorate Oxlajuj B’ak’tun, the Waqib’ Kej Indigenous Youth Council held a festival of art, music, and dance on September 22 on the grounds of the ancient Maya city of Iximche, outside modern-day Tecpan, Guatemala. Iximche was the capital of the Kakchiquel empire, founded in 1465 and part of what archaeologists term the post-classical period of the Mayan empire. As Alex Ulul, community guide at the ruins, explains, “Post-classical is the term archaeologists use, but that implies an end to Maya civilization. We measure time in b’ak’tun. This city was built at the end of the 11th b’ak’tun.” Oxlajuj, meaning 13, is the last b’ak’tun. According to Maya priests, the next cycle begins again at 1.

The festival also marked the conclusion of a two-day conference for Indigenous youth focusing on a re-establishment of the State of Guatemala in this new era. “We have thought deeply about the reality that we’re living, and what we can propose to the state of Guatemala. We demand real change in this country,” said a presenter at the opening of the festival.

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Tomb of Influential Early Mayan Ruler Discovered in Guatemala

December 10, 2012

By Ligia María

A jade pendant of a vulture discovered at the Maya site of Tak’alik Ab’aj.

(Photo courtesy Tak’alik Ab’aj Archaeological Project/Associated Press)

November 04, 2012. Archaeologists in Guatemala have discovered the tomb of an influential early Mayan ruler. The tomb of King K’utz Chman was found by researchers in June but not announced until October 25 because it took them that long to verify the grave belonged to him.


K’utz Chman, a priest, is said to have ruled around 700 B.C. in Retalhuleu in southwestern Guatemala. In his tomb archaeologists found ceramic pots and dolls and jade jewels including one jade necklace carved in the shape of a vulture’s head, which is a symbol that represented power and wealth in the Mayan culture. It was given to respected elder men.


“The richness of the artifacts tells us he was an important and powerful religious leader,” archaeologist Christa Schieber, coordinator of the project at the Tak’alik Ab’aj dig site, told Reuters. “He was very likely the person who began to make the changes in the system and transition into the Mayan world.”

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Maya in Belize Hope to Set Historic FPIC Precedent

December 5, 2012

By Ligia María

By Gregory Ch’oc (Q’eqchi’)

November 6, 2012.Imagine this scene: a bus hurdles over the dirt roads of thick, tropical rainforest in southern Belize. It travels from village to village picking up Maya who are panicked and confused about oil drilling on their ancestral lands. Instead of going directly to the meeting, the Maya must first listen to a two-hour presentation by the oil company. Once they finally arrive, they gather for a traditional blessing, which is how they start every meeting. They are told there is no time for that. In fact, they have only one minute. As the appointed representative, I start to speak. After 60 seconds, a government official, backed by police and military personnel, pries the microphone out of my hands. Apparently, the meaning of “consultation” is lost in translation from English to Q’eqchi.


The story I am about to tell is more than an ordinary parable: it is a tale with implications for a people’s survival or extinction. The Maya of Belize established the first legal precedent for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Now we are ready to do the same for the right of Free, Prior and Informed Consent.


The true beginning of this story is the morning in 1997 when several Maya villages woke up to learn that their ancestral land had been declared a national park—and that it had been so designated for three years. Community elders wondered why it had taken so long for the government to let them know. Five years later, they know that secrecy is official government policy on Maya land.

Guatemala: Indigenous Village Declares Internet Access a Human Right

November 29, 2012

By: Ligia María

Original version, Spanish translation below

 Traducción al Español, abajo

by Renata Avila

August 3, 2012. In the indigenous village of Santiago Atitlan, Internet access has been declared “a human right” by both inhabitants and local authorities. Authorities are also implementing a plan to provide free community Wi-Fi to the entire population so that everyone can benefit from it and exercise their rights.

The concepts of community and sharing are entrenched in the daily life of indigenous people in Guatemala. Common spaces, open doors, collaboration and sharing are the main characteristics of these communities, especially among small linguistic communities such as the Mayan Tzutuhil indigenous group in the Highlands of Guatemala. As cultures evolve and adapt to new discoveries in science and technology, indigenous cultures are embracing new technologies and adapting their use to accord with traditional principles. Such is the case with Internet access.

The youth of Santiago Atitlan pro-actively use digital tools. Their programme I respond! and you? (Yo Respondo, y Tu?)  is broadcast via the Internet and local cable TV and promoted throughout social networks. There they host dialogues discussing local problems, such as recycling and other ecological issues.

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Mayans demand an end to doomsday myth

November 13, 2012

By: Ligia María

Original version, Spanish translation below

 Traducción al Español, abajo

October 26, 2012 – Guatemala’s Mayan people accused the government and tour groups on Wednesday of perpetuating the myth that their calendar foresees the imminent end of the world for monetary gain.

“We are speaking out against deceit, lies and twisting of the truth, and turning us into folklore-for-profit. They are not telling the truth about time cycles,” charged Felipe Gomez, leader of the Maya alliance Oxlaljuj Ajpop.

Several films and documentaries have promoted the idea that the ancient Mayan calendar predicts that doomsday is less than two months away, on December 21, 2012.

The Culture Ministry is hosting a massive event in Guatemala City — which as many as 90,000 people are expected to attend — just in case the world actually does end, while tour groups are promoting doomsday-themed getaways.

Maya leader Gomez urged the Tourism Institute to rethink the doomsday celebration, which he criticized as a “show” that was disrespectful to Mayan culture.

Experts say that for the Maya, all that ends in 2012 is one of their calendar cycles, not the world.

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