The Machete and the Cross: Campesino Rebellion in Yucatan


Violent class struggles and ethnic conflict mark much of the history of Latin America, continuing in some regions even today. Perhaps the worst and most prolonged of these conflicts was the guerra de las castas or "Caste War", an Indian rebellion that tore apart the Yucatan Peninsula for much of the nineteenth century (1847-1903). The struggle was not only ethnic, pitting indigenous peoples against a Hispanic or Hispanicized ruling class, but also economic, involving attacks by rural campesinos on plantation owners, merchants, overseers, and townspeople. The rebels met with sporadic and limited success but still managed at times to remove whole portions of the Yucatan Peninsula from state control.

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