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10 days to honor Maya culture

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ficmayahomeimageThe International Maya Culture Festival (FICMaya) is finally here.

Starting tomorrow, a cultural collaboration begins with the federal government to celebrate the Maya world. FICMaya is headquartered in Mérida and incorporates Campeche, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Chiapas. It’s 10 days of art and music, plus plays, conferences and performances surrounding Maya culture. This year’s theme will be architecture.

FICMaya is a cousin of the International Cervantes Festival, arguably the most prestigious event of its kind in Latin America. The larger festival, in Guanajuato, overlaps with FICMaya, but will lend it 18 theatrical events in Yucatán. (Full program here.)

The festival is a combined effort by the state of Yucatán and the National Council for Culture and the Arts (Conaculta) to promote Maya culture in Mexico and around the world. The festival was first held in 2012 to coincide with the new era in the Maya calendar.

“We can be proud about having one of the greatest millennial cultures in the world,” said Rafael Tovar y de Teresa, president of Conaculta. “From the Maya, we have inherited much of our modern-day architecture, astronomy, mathematics and traditional medicine.”

FICMaya has taken on a more international aspect, attracting both foreign and Mexican tourists.

Conferences at the festival, which coincides with the 75th anniversary of the National Museum of Anthropology and History, will cover a range of topics from indigenous languages, Maya thought and education to the importance of the sun and moon in Maya culture.

This year’s festival will also present the Yuri Knórosov Medal to Maya Quiché Rigoberta Menchú Tum, known for her activism and work promoting indigenous rights in Guatemala. She is also the winner of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize and the 1998 Prince of Asturias Award.

Throughout the festival, special recognition will be given to the late Nobel Prize Laureate Octavio Paz, commemorating the 100th anniversary of his birth, playwright Carlos Fuentes, author José Emilio Pacheco, Gabriel García Márquez, Yucatecan author Leopoldo Peniche Vallado and writer Emmanuel Carballo.

“This is a cultural event that will wake up the world’s interest in Maya culture, and at the same time celebrate it’s traditions and forms of expression,” said FICMaya executive president Jorge Esma Bazán. “It’s a space for everyone, for the Mayas, for the people of the Yucatán, for Mexico and for the world.”

The festival opens Oct. 17 and concludes Oct. 26.

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