Tensions rise in Chichén Itzá as locals denounce fraudulent land deals

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
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.
Chichén Itzá is Mexico’s most visited archaeological site and generates millions of dollars every month — but locals complain that virtually all of these resources are held by the rich and powerful. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Locals in the town of Pisté near Chichén Itzá say that crooked land deals threaten to privatize infrastructure in Chichén Itzá.

A report by Diario de Yucatán alleges that land just outside of the world famous archaeological site has been sold to Felipe Chan May, the former mayor of the municipality of Tinicum — to which Chichén Itzá belongs. 

The land in question has long been used as a parking lot, but now the appearance of construction crews suggests the new owners have more ambitious plans in mind.

Chichén Itzá gets so many visitors, that the site’s parking lot often overflows — creating an opportunity for nearby landowners to charge for parking on their land. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

“There is so much money at stake here, and as always it’s those with power and influence that get their hands on everything. Chichén Itzá belongs to us all, not just politicians,” said a local tour guide who preferred to remain anonymous. 

To further complicate matters, members of Tinum’s ejido say that sections of the land being built on still belong to the cooperative and are being occupied illegally.

Earlier: Chichén Itzá hikes entrance fee yet again

Tensions surrounding the ownership of land in and around Chichén Itzá have long been a contested topic. 

In July 2021, ejido members turned down a proposal by the federal government to buy 8.6 hectares of land for the Maya Train project.

Members of the cooperative say the 4.6 million pesos offered is extremely low given the land’s commercial value of 40 million.

“If the members of the edijo are upset it’s because they feel like the government is trying to take advantage of them,” said Roger Pardío Villamil, legal counsel for Pisté’s cooperative.
Similar disputes involving private individuals, ejido members, and the government have also flared up at other archaeological sites including Dzibilchaltún and Cobá.

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