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Lingering land dispute leads to blockade at Dzibilchaltún

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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.
Protestors set up tents and hung signs Saturday claiming that the archaeological site belongs to Chablekal’s ejido. Photo: Courtesy

The archaeological site of Dzibilchaltún — one of a minority allowed to open during the pandemic — was closed to tourists by protestors who argue that they have been cheated out of their land. 

The protestors argue that they collectively own the land on which the archaeological site lay, and claim that the government owes them money. 

“Dziblichatún belongs to us because it belongs to the ejido. We will not move until our grievances have been addressed,” said an ejido leader, Manuel Aban.

The dispute traces back 62 years when the protestors allege that the INAH illegally expropriated their ejido lands and declared them federal property. 

INAH argues that the question of who owns the land was settled long ago. 

Earlier: Residents cry fowl in property dispute with poultry giant

Members of the ejido based in the village of Chablekal are now directly petitioning President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to get involved in the case. 

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. 

The Temple of the Seven Dolls is the most famous structure in Dzibilchaltún. The temple received its name when in the 1950s archaeologists discovered seven small figures buried within the structure.

Temple of the Seven Dolls in Dziblichatún, Yucatán. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

The land dispute at Dziblichaltún shares several features in common with the tensions in Teotihuacan, where settlers have begun to move in and even build dwellings, claiming that the lands should belong to them.

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