Rebellion Now and Forever: Mayas, Hispanics, and Caste War Violence in Yucataan, 1800-1880

Rebellion Now and Forever: Mayas, Hispanics, and Caste War Violence in Yucataan, 1800-1880

Rebellion Now and Forever: Mayas, Hispanics, and Caste War Violence in Yucataan, 1800-1880

Rebellion Now and Forever: Mayas, Hispanics, and Caste War Violence in Yucataan, 1800-1880

Synopsis

This book explores the origins, process, and consequences of forty years of nearly continual political violence in southeastern Mexico. Rather than recounting the well-worn narrative of the Caste War, it focuses instead on how four decades of violence helped shape social and political institutions of the Mexican southeast. Rebellion Now and Forever looks at Yucatán's famous Caste War from the perspective of the vast majority of Hispanics and Maya peasants who did not join in the great ethnic rebellion of 1847. It shows how the history of nonrebel territory was as dramatic and as violent as the front lines of the Caste War, and of greater significance for the larger evolution of Mexican society. The work explores political violence not merely as a method and process, but also as a molder of subsequent institutions and practices.

Excerpt

All peoples have their moment in the crossroads. There are those times— usually at hours least expected, in places never imagined—when one step launches a train of events that dominates the historical landscape for decades thereafter. For the inhabitants of southeast Mexico, that moment came about through the primordial disobedience of one Santiago Imán y Villafaña, an irascible merchant, militia officer, and small-town patriarch from the unlikely metropolis of Tizimín, Yucatán. Born with the new century in 1800, Imán grew up as one of the handful of privileged landowners on the northern coastal plain of the peninsula's predominantly Maya eastern half, a half commonly known as the oriente. While a young man, he had proclaimed in favor of Mexico's federalist constitution of 1824, under whose terms the states were to govern their own affairs. He married a prominent widow, then settled down to the life of the gentry, Tizimínstyle. But fortune had something else in mind: Santiago Imán lived to see his little homeland debilitated by military levies, as Mexico, now under the control of centralists, voided the federalist constitution and launched its catastrophic wars with the renegade province of Texas twelve years later. Dragooned estate workers boarded ships for northern Mexico, never to be seen again; the more fortunate escaped to the woods, leaving haciendas untilled, churches unattended, and taxes unpaid. Tizimín was rapidly becoming a ghost town … and, unbeknownst to contemporary inhabitants, the crossroads of southeast Mexican history.

Rather than accept the continued decay of his tiny homeland, Imán chose to answer political abuse with force. During the summer of 1836, he listened in amazement to news that Anglo rebels in Texas had captured General Antonio López de Santa Anna; emboldened, Imán set about organizing a federalist revolt. He had allies in the key Yucatecan . . .

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