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Dzibilchaltún resolves conflict with locals, set to open once again

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Dziblichatún’s temple of the Seven Dolls is one of Yucatán’s most well-known ancient monuments. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Dzibilchaltún is set to open to the public once again after the lifting of a four-month blockade.

The dispute traces back 62 years when protestors allege, the INAH illegally expropriated their ejido lands and declared the area a national park. 

Before the beginning of negotiations, the federal government had argued that the matter of Dzibilchaltún’s ownership had long been settled. All archaeological sites and national monuments in Mexico are federal property and administered by the INAH. 

The details of the agreement have not been disclosed. It is reported that negotiations were attended by ejido representatives and several agencies of the state and federal government.

The question of how archaeological sites should be managed and who should benefit from their operation has long been a thorny issue for indigenous communities around the country. 

“People talk about the Maya this and the Maya that. They say they are so impressed with the pyramids and other ancient monuments, but nobody really cares about the welfare of the Maya alive today,” said José Manuel Ek, a resident of Muna, near Uxmal.

Earlier: Ancient monuments in Teotihuacan endangered by illegal construction

Recently, people living and working in proximity to the archaeological site of Cobá have expressed a desire to administer the lucrative tourist attraction themselves. However, this petition was readily dismissed by the INAH and state authorities. 

It is likely that Dzibilchaltún will be open again in time for the Tianguis Turístico Mexico, which will take place in Mérida over three days beginning Nov. 16.

The closure of the archaeological site has been particularly embarrassing for Yucatán Gov. Mauricio Vila Dosal, who is rumored to be considering a run for the presidency in 2024.

Dziblichaltún is one of the most-visited archaeological sites in Yucatán with an average of well over 30,000 annual visitors before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

Dziblichaltún is popular with tourists and Yucatecos alike given its proximity to both Mérida and Progreso, as well as its Xlacah open-air cenote. This is particularly true on Sundays when the entrance to the site is free for nationals and foreigners residing in Yucatán.

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