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 Chapter 7: Social Actors in Archaeological Zones Minimize

It is possible to argue that the principal cause for the absence, inadequacy, or delay of archaeological conservation projects in Mexico is the lack of economic resources, a traditional argument for explaining inadequate development spending in the Third World. Nevertheless, field experience suggests other factors have equal or more weight in building community support for such projects. These factors in turn become significant in the formation and involvement of social groups in relation to heritage issues. Among the most important concerns:

  1. the security of tenure over the land where one lives or works, with an individual or collective guarantee, independent of whether or not there are archaeological remains;
  2. economic interests stemming from a view of archaeological sites as exploitable resources from the standpoint of tourist development;
  3. political interests associated with the potential of these spaces as land for urban development, commercial transactions, or symbolic behavior;
  4. institutional or personal interest in conserving archaeological sites within a specific organizational structure;
  5. popular beliefs regarding the sacred qualities and character of the sites.

In short, efforts to conserve cultural heritage take place in the context of and must be understood with reference to interests represented by social groups with differing degrees of organization, who are inclined to defend their rights and interests. In many cases these groups find themselves in open opposition to the actions of institutions charged by law with the conservation of archaeological resources or those dedicated to the exploitation of those resources.

The organizational capacity of communities seeking to defend their customary or legal rights to ownership, possession, and use of land, as well as to defend their rights to economic exploitation of collective resources has been passed over or ignored in the preparation of "ideal" conservation projects by official experts and institutions. However, the consequence of this exclusion is that it has not been possible to secure the compliance which would make effective the presidential decrees of December 7, 1993, protecting Monte Alban and Mitla. We need to note the reason this organizational capacity tends to weigh in on the side of interests opposing conservation, protection, or rescue of cultural heritage is that such efforts tend to affect the interests enumerated above. Protecting archaeological resources generally means limiting generalized access to them and reducing individual opportunities for exploitation.

For this reason the current research takes as a methodological priority the study of organized social actors in order to under stand the nature of their interests vis-a-vis archaeological sites, levels and processes of organization, and their attitudes toward conservation, public institutions, and other factors affecting their behavior as a group. In turn this leads to the study both of groups identified with different points of view regarding conservation and of groups totally opposed or for whom conservation of archaeological heritage means nothing.

As used here the terms GROUP or SOCIAL GROUP refer a self-aware relationship of two or more people who share common goals, common motivations, some degree of interdependence, structured relationships, and mutual influence. By SOCIAL ACTOR I refer to a group which actively enters the public arena to articulate, advance, or defend group interests in relation to similar actions by others. Not all social groups are social actors but as we will see in this chapter, the shared sense that government actions create, undermine, promote, endanger, or otherwise affect group interests generates a tendency to move toward the category of "social actor", especially as groups come to understand the mechanisms and values which move decision-making. Here research centers on groups whose goals are related to the dynamics of conservation or destruction of the archaeological zones of Monte Alban and Mitla.

This is not an effort to engage in precise structural analysis or quantify patterns of behavior; at this point the primary concern is still description and plotting of groups in reference to the subject of archaeological conservation. For example, a major interest has to be their bases of power and influence, on the premise that by understanding these, either individually or in concert with other groups, we will be able to appreciate how they approach the contemporary context of archaeological heritage. Here we recognize groups as social actors according to their primary interests, keeping in mind that these interests may change over time, according to the nature of the issues, or group leadership. The analysis which follows is structured around the five concerns identified earlier, with particular attention to the first two due to their levels of development and complexity, and for their capacity to illuminate the utility of such research in fostering archaeological heritage protection.

Rights and Guarantees Related to the Land

Monte Alban: The official boundary of the Archaeological Zone of Monte Alban encloses 2,078 hectares (approximately 5,278 acres) affecting five communities and five ejidos (SEDESOL 1996), of which 51 percent belongs to Santa Maria Atzompa, 25 percent to Santa Cruz Xoxocotlan, 10 percent each to San Martin Mexicapam and San Juan Chapultepec (both part of the city of Oaxaca), and 5 percent to San Pedro Ixtlahuaca. Within the zone for planning and management purposes the land is divided among four units: Plaza Principal, Atzompa, El Gallo, and a buffer area. Thus, for Monte Alban as an archaeological zone the principal concern has been to assure a presidential declaration establishing INAH's legal right to regulate land use within the official boundary. This right in turn affects the interests of social actors enumerated below, some of which are represented in Figure 50.

Authorities of Santa Maria Atzompa: This social actor represents the community of SantaMaria Atzompa, and consists of both the municipal officials and the Ejido Commission, as they form a common front when dealing with INAH on matters of the archaeological zone boundary or land use regulation. Key individudals include the mayor, vice-mayor, secretary, police chief, and four members of the Ejido Commision. This group takes a highly traditional stance in terms of protecting the collective interest of the community in its land base, whether this is communal, ejido, or private property. With respect to conservation practices within the Monte Alban Archaeological Zone, as established by the 1992 boundary, and by the presidential decree conferring official status on the protected area, this group argues "…they talk about protection, but they have not protected the sites as they should, and INAH stands out for its lack of attention to the area; in reality the sites are unprotected". The latter comment is a clear reference to the total disregard of the Atzompa unit in terms of official plans for exploration and conservation.

"The highest officials talk about the welfare of the family, but that is not true…" referring to the political slogan popularized by the PRI during the 1994 presidential campaign of Ernesto Zedillo. This reflects the lack of credibility attached to statements by senior officials, "…the decrees are made to favor the strong, not the weak…". The authorities remember discussions of a tourist circuit which would have been of benefit to Atzompa but was never carried out, noting "…at the very least they could have opened a dirt road for the benefit of the communities…" and that "…INAH has had money and nothing has come to the community; perhaps if INAH had arranged something for the community people would be more inclined to cooperate…"

This group expressed its concern for the protection of the archaeological monuments or "the ruins", as they refer to the site. This reinforces their conception of the site as restricted to the monumental architecture located on the upper parts of the ridge, and therefore provides no logical explanation for a boundary which "locks up" even the lower parts of the same. One can talk about the concept of context, residential areas, pre-Columbian cultivation areas, and other elements of a cultural landscape, but it is clear these are categories far from local value scales regarding conservation. The problem they have with the boundary-setting process is that "…they put markers where there are no ruins, and they are invading lands which belong to the community". In addition, "Blanca Paredes never called together the authorities to discuss how to define the boundary." And in their view the presidential decree "…violated the autonomy of the community." They recognize that in fact in some of the lower sections there are archaeological remains, as in the case of "Los Mogotillos" the local name for the site known to archaeologists as Tierras Largas. There archaeologists were carrying out research and local authorities permitted the site to be invaded. Nevertheless, in the eyes of village authorities "…even so there is no reason to include so much within the boundary."

The authorities of Santa Maria Atzompa consistently expressed an interest in cooperating with INAH to the extent the latter will consider the possibility of shifting "upslope" the official boundary markers, as the authorities have a clear sense as to what they are willing to accept. They are particularly attentive to critical areas where there is more interest in urban development, such as the east slope of the main hill at Atzompa and in the Cañada, the natural drainage of the hills of Atzompa and El Gallo, and now a growing settlement. The interinstitutional team and Atzompa authorities made a total of four ground surveys ranging from 30 and 40 meters above the current boundary line to as much as 200 meters above. These surveys left outside the boundary the lower slopes where there already exist growing settlements such as the Guelaguetza, Ampliacion Guelagueta, Samaritana, Ampliacion Sanmaritana, Ejido Santa Maria, la Cañada, y Ampliacion la Cañada, all inside the official boundary and all in the process of consolidation (Figures 51, 52, 53, and 54).

It is clear the first interest of this group is to assure a greater supply of land for sale to people arriving from outside the community, although obviously they do not discuss this in meetings or surveys. But officials of the Office of the Agrarian Solictor advised that the Atzompa vice-mayor for the period 1993-95 has been charged with illegal sale of ejido lands. When they assume a public role it is to assure that their interest is "to protect the heritage of the citizens of Atzompa."

Given INAH's 1995 proposal to consider some municipal boundary markers to complement the official boundaries as part of an attempt to reach agreement on boundary-setting, the authorities proposed a wide band around the hill, including lands most threatened by invasion. They even asked for another band somewhat further up the slope so "…people have someplace to pasture their animals." Nevertheless we all knew that none of the families in the new households lives a rural lifestyle, but rather are quite identified with the urban system. This group also thought it very important to continue the efforts to reforest the hillsides and suggested a good tree belt would keep people from invading these areas. But at the same time they sought to increase opportunities for grazing, even though grazing is a primary contributor to deforestation.

Neighborhood or "Colonia" Associations:

The formation of new neighborhoods, or "colonias", as addressed earlier in the chapter on land use, inevitably leads to the formation of neighborhood associations which press for the provision of government services. This holds whether the new settlement consists of families coming together in the same place having purchased lots from ejidatarios or speculators, or whether it represents a more or less organized "invasion" of a tract under the sponsorship of a group or individual. In Atzompa there are at least two such groups, the Residents' Union of Colonia Guelaguetza and the Residents of Nueva Santa Maria, although over time they will appear in other colonias as well. The purposes of these groups, to seek public services and to defend their neighborhoods against government demands, converts them into social actors. In the case of the two groups cited above, one clear concern would be to make sure they are not affected by or subject to land use controls associated with boundary setting for the archaeological zone. The recent creation of the Coordinating Committee for Agencies (an administrative sub-unit in some municipalities) and Colonias of the State of Oaxaca, an umbrella organization of neighborhood and colonia associations, reflects their significance for residents in these areas.

In turn these associations become a favorite target for political parties in Oaxaca, as the parties offer negotiating assistance with government agencies in return for votes, cooperation from association leaders on other matters, and support at campaign rallies or other public events. It is not at all uncommon to find candidates for mayor or the state legislature making campaign promises of services or cooperation in protecting association interests without taking into account the legal status of the land or its protection under federal law.

Authorities of San Pedro Ixtlahuaca: Of all of the municipalities surrounding Monte Alban, San Pedro Ixtlahuaca is the most rural. The area affected by the boundary of the Archaeological Zone of Monte Alban is on the west side of the Central Plaza or Plaza Principal, and consists of ejido lands which currently are open pasture on the lower slopes and covered with brush and small trees on the upper slopes, where they abut the plaza. The upper slopes serve primarily for grazing and collecting firewood. San Pedro has a longstanding land dispute with Atzompa regarding the precise boundary of ejido lands located on El Gallo.

As in the case of Atzompa, the group consists of municipal officials and the Ejido Commission, which in the latter case added its Oversight Council, a body intended to serve as a watchdog on the Commission. A key concern of the authorities has been the possibility of signing formal agreements with the archaeological zone which provide clear protection for archaeological remains while giving the community a free hand in managing or disposing of the rest of its land. To pursue this goal the authorities were interested in field surveys and direct interviews with INAH staff (Figures 55 and 56). The head of the Oversight Council noted:

"he was born in this village and therefore knows there is disagreement with INAH because the residents are no longer permitted entry to the archaeological zone. We know the subsoil is federal property, we know and understand this, but previously we were able to cultivate fields at Loma Gorda, we grew beans there, but now we do not go there because they began to repress people. The federal police prohibited cultivating, grazing, and hunting, but we know there is a difference between protecting and prohibiting us from exercising a right which is ours."
It is worth noting the records of Oaxaca Regional Center show nothing regarding police activity or any other controls beyond those of a general nature, nor can anyone consulted at the Regional Center recall any incident which might give substance to the above comment.

Although the authorities have the responsibility of negotiating with INAH, when it comes to the substance of any agreement "…we have to inform and ask the opinion of the community; I would prefer to go to jail for my village rather betray it. We live here and have to account for our actions, we cannot simply dispose of what belongs to the community". On the contrary, they asked INAH for an accounting of land included within the boundary and an explanation as to why INAH carried out such an invasion, in order to relay the information to the community. When informed this was not an expropriation, simply a regulation of land use, the response reflected the lack of confidence in official institutions: "…they say it is not an expropriation, but we have experiences, such as the example of Huatulco, where in the end relatives of ours were run off the land. It is an example of what causes a lack of confidence among peasants, and we certainly lack confidence, but the peasant is always betrayed." The reference to Huatulco has to do with a resort community on the Oaxaca coast, where members of ejidos were dislodged from a spectacular coastal setting to make room for a fancy beach resort with a Club Med and five-star hotels.

This lack of confidence was reinforced by the presidential decree, as "…there is no document requesting permission to carry out the boundary-setting." Their view is that by not soliciting such permission the national government "…violates the rights of others; if there is no communication it is a violation of rights, even if it is the President of the Republic who does it, and those rights reside in the community." For this reason the authorities insisted a representative of INAH appear at a community assembly to explain how much land has been affected, and in what ways. Here it was clear the goal was to lure INAH into a situation where it would be at a disadvantage, as such gatherings serve primarily as opportunities for the expression of disagreement and complaints.

During the field surveys marking the boundary markers the authorities insisted on also identifying tracts of ejido land, marching the entire party through heavy thornbush, from which we emerged tired and scratched, probably with the intention of dissuading outsiders from close inspection of the land. On the extreme west side of Monte Alban is a new settlement, named Loma Grande. These lands have been sold to the new residents illegally, suggesting the view that the authorities "…cannot simply dispose of what belongs to the community" is not one universally shared.

San Francisco Javier-Lomas de San Javier or (ORINCO vs. Governing Board): Lomas de San Javier is a new settlement located on the ejido at Arrazola, within the boundary of the archaeological zone on the south side of Monte Alban, affecting boundary markers 36 and 37. When Blanca Paredes set these markers in 1992 she indicated she had excluded all housing existing in the area at the time. The problem is not simply penetration of the archaeological zone, but that there are two groups struggling for control and for decision power over land use. One of these groups is the Group of Residents of Lomas de Javier, known officially as ORINCO (Independent Organization of Residents), local people who would prefer to respect the official boundary of the Archaeological Zone of Monte Alban because they want to obtain legal rights to their land. Lomas de San Javier is a recent colonia (the first residents arrived about 10 years ago), with a population drawn from Xoxocotlan as well as from other places in the state. Residents settled on ejido lands they were ceded or sold illegally. Today, with changes in Article 27 of the Constitution, they would like to finally legitimize their holdings and avoid problems with the archaeological zone.

They also want to gain more control over their lives in terms of a relationship with another group which styles itself as the "Governing Board". Members of ORINCO claim the Governing Board is appropriating lands illegally in order to sell them, and that some of these lands are within the boundary of the archaeological zone. Certainly during the filed surveys we could we the boundary markers and signs placed by INAH had been pulled up and disappeared. ORINCO charged the Governing Board with responsibility, but the Board denied it. ORINCO claims the Governing Board represents no-one but is a self-proclaimed group with an interest in manipulating and selling land, inside or outside the zone boundary. The majority of the members of the Board are not from Xoxocotlan. One is a school teacher and the other a professional woman who recently moved in. The Board apparently bases at least part of its power on its political relations with the PRI and particularly on ties to the mayor.

The formal authorities on land matters in San Francisco Javier are the municipal administrative representative and the Ejidal Commission, but these seem to have been overwhelmed by the conflict and passed responsibility for finding solutions to the mayor of Xoxocotlan. During a field survey which included the mayor he expressed surprise at the destruction of the boundary markers and said he would instruct the vice-mayor to open an exhaustive investigation and punish the guilty. In turn the vice-mayor requested the participation of the three parties to the conflict (ORINCO, the Governing Board, and INAH) to a meeting on neutral ground to discuss the boundaries of the new colonia, the boundary of the Archaeological Zone of Monte Alban, and the role of the Governing Board. The result of the meeting was a generalized discussion which grew in tension between ORINCO and the Governing Board, shouted insults, and ultimately some pushing. INAH played the role of the damaged party (due to the loss of the boundary markers and signs) so at least escaped censure at the meeting.

Most of the members of ORINCO are descendents of local ejido members, either cultivate or have cultivated the soil, and have a sense of place in relation to the community. The conservation of Monte Alban has some meaning for them because the Zapotecs who built it "were their grandfathers", and because in a pragmatic sense they think there is more to be gained negotiating with INAH than in fighting with it. Simultaneously they view the Governing Board as outsiders who have come to San Francisco Javier with the intention of getting rich off the sale of lands which legitimately belong to the local ejido. The ejido and Monte Alban represent disposable real estate, nothing more. Their connections are less with the land than with the political party in power (PRI), and by working with the party in Xoxocotlan they know they have sympathetic ears and support amoing the municipal authorities there.

Ejido Commission of Santa Cruz Xoxocotlan:

In Santa Cruz Xoxocotlan the Ejido Commission consists of elected members, a secretary, and an "advisor", in effect someone from the community with no formal position but substantial influence over commission attitudes and decisions. Members of the commission arrive there with a strong sense of grievance against the federal government as the government expropriated lands of the ejido to build the Oaxaca airport and later the buffer zone around it which has become the recreational sports complex known as "El Tequio". In addition to these earlier losses for other purposes the 1992 boundary-setting took place without consultation, as Blanca Paredes (representative of the Public Registry of Archaeological Zones and Monuments of INAH) and the director of the Oaxaca Regional Center took, in the eyes of the commission, a very authoritarian and condescending tone in informing the ejido of the new boundary lines.

It appears the central issue is the 1992 expansion of the archaeological zone via two changes in boundary lines which brought the zone further south and east, a decision in the judgement of the ejido commission to be illegitimate because it was taken without consulting the affected population, and capricious because it does not correspond with their understanding of where the archaeological zone really is. While it seems clear the several revisions of the boundary over the years has produced confusion as to what is protected, the critical irritation is with the process of imposition, to wit: "If to enter a stranger's house one at least asks permission, then to dispose of the lands of an ejido there needs to be prior agreement with its representatives, and before deciding they must consult with its members…they have decided to kill INAH personnel the next time they appear with their measuring equipment." They acknowledge destroying INAH signage and boundary markers as they have no intention of respecting the 1992 boundary, especially because from their perspective on the slopes "there is nothing", meaning that for them the only significant archaeological remains are those monumental structures on the summit of Monte Alban.

Their argument is that the ejido members understand the importance of Monte Alban but that there is no reciprocity, that few members of the ejido find employment there, and as noted above, they have no voice in decisions which affect them. There are 122 families with formal ejido rights, although many of the earlier ejido members effectively subdivided their tracts among their children and in effect there are more than 300 families who see themselves as members of the ejido. Many of those families residing on ejido lands, however, are not ejido members, but outsiders who have come to Xoxocotlan because they have been offered land at low cost and easy terms. The potsherds, stone artifacts, and even low platforms they find have no significance for them.

The field survey included both INAH's boundary markers and those of the ejido. INAH's boundary overlaps the ejido by 500 to 800 meters along boundary markers 37-40, counter-clockwise. The commission and its advisors have formed a group titled the "Union of Edidatarios", and they took advantage of the field survey to affix signs to the ejido boundary markers. These signs state this is ejido property, giving the name of the tract or section. The entire area is affected to some degree by new construction or by subdivision into lots (Figures 57, 58, 59, and 60). Construction, once begun, takes place at an accelerated pace, and given the characteristics of construction may be finished in two or three days.

Moving counterclockwise along the boundary markers of both INAH and the ejido one observes significant variation in land use, soil quality, and archaeological remains. Thus not far from INAH marker 37, in the section known as "El Jaguey", a small dam which used to store water for limited irrigation now serves primarily as a source of water for animals grazing in the area or where some people go to wash clothes. In the same area mica is found on the surface. Unimportant today, in pre-Columbian times it found its way into some ceramics, and indicates this was a source of raw material for production. Further east the slopes are heavily eroded and little used. But north of INAH marker 39 soil quality improves and one finds cultivated fields. One also finds clear archaeological remains in the form of house foundations and surface deposits of ceramics. On observing these remains the commission advisors asserted they had washed downhill and had nothing to do with the location in question.

On arriving at marker 40, where the ejido ends and private landholding begins, one sees on ejido lands to the south (but within the INAH boundary) new construction, while to the north cultivation continues. The ejidal commission expects the area currently cultivated will continue to be so, but that the decision on land use will be the ejido's, not INAH's. The commission expressed the suspicion that INAH's boundary was deliberately set to the south of its earlier position to facilitate expropriation in the future, as the federal government has done in the past. Speaking as the Union of Ejidatarios they are unwilling to cede even an inch, and will not respect the presidential decree. On the contrary, they believe INAH should share with ejido commission and the ejido a percentage of income from the archaeological zone, as much of it belongs to Xoxocotlan.

Smallholders' Protective Association of Xoxocotlan: The Smallholders' Protective Association represents 704 private property owners, of whom about 200 are affected in some way by the 1992 boundary. Most are natives of Xoxocotlan and settled in the area due to its proximity to lines of communication with the city of Oaxaca. These properties have mixed use, including farming, housing, and some small businesses, and all have the appropriate legal documents proving purchase, according to the governing committee, which consists of a president, secretary, treasurer, and several advisors.

The committee expressed disagreement with the hostility manifested by the ejido commission, as in its view "…they are protecting only their own interests, not those of the ejidatarios." The committee commented the ejido commision advisors are in fact heavily involved in illegal land sales, and for that reason have no interest in supporting the archaeological zone boundary nor regulation of land use. At the same time they expressed surprise at the authoritarian and arbitrary attitude of INAH for placing boundary markers without entering into communication with them. In their view "…the lands of Monte Alban are further up the slope, bounded by areas well-known to their ancestors, and those are the true limits, not the arbitrary line federal authorities seek to impose."

A field survey with the committee reviewed their perceptions of the boundaries of the archaeological zone, without exception well upslope of the areas included in the 1992 boundary-setting. To some degree their sense of the boundary follows the edge of private smallholdings. In other places it follows natural features such as the Paredon, a rock formation approximately 5 meters high and a kilometer long about halfway up the side of Monte Alban. Or there are certain points accepted as marking the boundary, such as Juan Rosa's Cave, a natural cave in a small canyon containing a large pond where children swim and women wash clothes. The 1992 boundary-setting places this feature will inside the archaeological zone, but the smallholders contend this is an unmistakeable point marking the limits of the zone. In some places the "true" boundary simply follows the band where vegetation becomes denser and people are less likely to go. At various points it is possible to see small platforms or other signs of ancient habitation.

The Cerro del Chapulin, Cerro Pelon, and Peña del Tecolote are high hills marking the north edge of Xoxocotlan, in the middle of an area bounded by markers 42, 43, and 44 on the south side of the delimitation, and 59, 60, and 61 to the north. Here one can clearly see archaeological remains on these summits, while on the lower slopes there was intensive residential land use development. South of boundary markers 42 and 43 is Colonia Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, characterized by its extreme poverty. This colonia has been developing on lands which were once communal , but whose residents now claim are private property, even though legally they are not. Further north there are more vestiges of low platforms and plazas. In the lower part of the cluster of housing known as El Chapulin near marker 44 there is a primary school, built clearly on archaeological remains largely destroyed by excavations unauthorized by INAH as well as by vandalism. The smallholders claim "…it is the president of the Communal Lands Committee who distributes lands which do not belong to him in return for money."

El Paraguito, located on the southeast limit of the boundary, includes an area defined by markers 45-57. It is a small tract, perhaps five hectares, sitting on a natural promotory which was used in pre-Columbian times to construct a complex of four platforms around a central plaza. Some years ago INAH authorized the construction of a chapel, and also the use of the plaza for a soccer field. It was hoped this would slow growth, but the impact of three new settlements…El Chapulin, Insurgentes, and Santa Elena…added to the corruption of the communal lands representatives, has led to a total invasion of the archaeological sector and a massive destruction of arqueological elements such as mounds, platforms, and the plaza. The field survey also revealed recent excavations to form housing platforms, indiscriminate extraction of pre-Columbian stones for construction purposes, and other damage. The smallholders` committee argued for prosecution "…as there is a difference between disagreeing with the boundary and in supporting those delinquents who destroy archaeological remains."

Comuneros of Xoxocotlan:

Moving northeast from El Paraguito one enters the communal lands of Xoxocotlan. Without a doubt this is the most critical area for the conservation of archaeological remains on the lower slopes of Monte Alban, as this is the area most accessible from and to the city of Oaxaca. Irregular settlements began along the foot of the mountain in the late 1960s , settlements which in time began to grow due to rural-urban migration and migration from the center of Oaxaca toward the outskirts. Neighborhoods began to organize as residents sought to protect their interests in the land and to press for services. Today, following INAH's boundary from south to north, one passes through Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Insurgentes, Santa Elena, and Emiliano Zapata (all on land belonging to Xoxocotlan); del Valle, Santa Anita, San Juanito, and Barrio "El Coquito" (San Juan Chapultepec); and Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Monte Alban, Colinas de Monte Alban, Moctezuma, and Hidalgo (all in San Martin Mexicapam).

The boundary set by INAH in the area of these colonias was intended to protect the archaeological remains found along a line immediately above the last streets in these neighborhoods as of 1992. In part this line was to halt the uncontrolled growth and in part to stop the obvious destruction of archaeological terraces found in this sector, that is, along this line the criteron for boundary-setting shifted from strictly archaeological to thinking about the implications of patterns of urban settlement. However, field surveys from boundary marker to boundary marker with representatives of the smallholders showed that along the boundary the archaeological zone had been invaded by "provisional" construction anywhere from 30 meters, i.e., a couple of homesites, to anywhere from 200 to 300 meters in critical areas. On asking residents of the area about the boundary they invariably replied "…we know where the boundary is, but this is where they sold us land, and we have the papers to prove it."

El Paraquito is important in two respects. Besides the significant destruction of archaeological materials found in the area, it serves as a watershed between Xoxocotlan and a series of irregular settlements characterized by poverty, poor public services, and a general lack of identity. Walking the streets one notices the trash, open air defecation, lack of control over domestic animals, and a general sense of a low quality of life. As the residents all arrived from somewhere else there is an absence of bonding based on familiy relations or community ties. All are neighbors by circumstance and necessity but this occasions a sense of competition and defensiveness, as the social mechanisms for decision-making or conflict resolution they may have known elsewhere are absent. Furthermore, everyone knows the land they hold was obtained in a manner less than legal, so there is always a doubt as to whether someone might appear with another set of documents to claim possession of their property.

Boundary markers 54 to 58 were placed just uphill from the water tanks built several years ago by the National Water Commission to supply this section of metropolitan Oaxaca. At that time the lands where the tanks are located was uninhabited, but the tanks attracted irregular settlements, which of course make use of the water available, although not necessarily through authorized withdrawal. Further north and east, from markers 60 to 62, the boundary line has also been penetrated by settlement. Curiously, near marker 62 there exists a small archaeological complex consisting of four platforms and a plaza used locally for pasturing goats, and about 30 meters from the site there is a large wooden cross which both the residents of Xoxocotlan and recent arrivals regard as important. Xoxocotlan has done some reforestation in the adjacent area and placed benches for those who come to the cross. As an area of public use and control it has not been invaded by irregular settlement, even though the nearest street passes scarcely 15 meters below the cross.

Markers 63 and 64 also adjoin water tanks, in this case above Santa Anita in San Juan Chapultepec. Although settlement has not passed the boundary line at this point, the area just below the line is saturated with housing and exerting pressure on it. As the slope is quite steep in this area there are no streets, just minimal paths among the houses. In the steepest parts there are improvised stairways, but these are so much a part of the landscape that someone not from the immediate area hardly knows where to walk, as it always seems as if one is on private property. At marker 66 the boundary cuts downslope to connect to the old road to Monte Alban at the historic monument known as "the foundary". The markers along here in 1992 marked the highest point in Colonia Monte Alban, but by 1995 a rough street had been cut inside the boundary and penetration begun. Between only two markers the field survey counted fifteen houses of recent construction.

The road originally cut by Alfonso Caso for access to Monte Alban divides Colonia Monte Alban into upper and lower sections (also known as Monte Alban 1 and 2), straddling the line between San Martin Mexicapam and Xoxocotlan. Here along the slope there is a natural passage known locally as Paso del Frances, which links the private and communal lands of Xoxocotlan with San Martin Mexicapam. Sections of this area are part of a permanent litigation between the two jurisdictions, complicating oversight and services. The east side of the road, which was settled earlier, shows signs of urbanization: paved streets, sewage and piped water, electricity, an occasional police presence, and and bus service. On the other side of the road, upslope, one sees a lack of services and provisional arrangements such as informal connections to water and electric lines. The residents of this area, by declaring themselves to be simply new sections of existing neighborhoods, hope the municipal or state government will extend the services now enjoyed by their downhill neighbors.

The boundary markers between Xoxocotlan and the ejido of San Martin Mexicapam, just upslope from the old road to Monte Alban, show that the the west the land is largely free of cultivation and housing, while downslope to the east omne can see increasing numbers of new houses of informal construction. The population density is still low, but as the land is more suitable for housing the colonias of Moctezuma and Hidalgo are growing gradually upslope. The west or uphill side of the road has been reforested and it remains to be seen whether the "green barrier" has any effect. It is in this area, at the marker known as "La Mona", that the communal lands of Xoxocotlan end, and Xoxocotlan authorities believe "…it is the true boundary of Monte Alban, because that is what Alfonso Caso said, and the more recent marker takes in 250 meters of land which in fact does not belong to Monte Alban."

San Martin Mexicapam Ejidal and Communal Lands Commission:

This group represents a segment of the population of San Martin Mexicapam, the boundaries of which run from the intersection of the two roads to Monte Alban to Tomb 7, on the edge of the Main Plaza, and down the hill to the wall of the Foundary, on the east side of the boundary line. It consists of 12 members, mostly under 40, elected in a community assembly. The Commission expressed a willingness to accept the federal stance on Monte Alban "…whenever San Martin Mexicapam has a role in the economic activities of the Archaeological Zone of Monte Alban." Their specific expectations are that the parking areas, cafeterias, craft sales, and perhaps a new transportation service should be managed by people from San Martin, reasoning that as they were the former holders of important portions of the archaeological zone, including Tomb 7, the federal government owes them an opportunity to enjoy some gains from that fact.

It should be remembered that the area of San Martin Mexicapam facing the city of Oaxaca includes a number of irregular or informal settlements such as Hidalgo, Moctezuma, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Monte Alban, and Luis Donaldo Colosio (Figures 65 and 66), all previously mentioned. All of these are on ejidal and communal lands sold illegally by ejidatarios, clandestine speculators, and by some of the ejidal and communal lands commissioners. In this case the commission is willing to sign an agreement with INAH on protecting the boundary in turn for economic opportunities. Nevertheless, when defining themselves as representatives of San Martin Mexicapam they are in reality talking about the original nucleus of population, far from the boundary of Monte Alban. The areas adjacent to the boundary are in reality recent settlements which the Commission rarely considers, regarding them as marginal and populated by outsiders. Residents of these settlements constitute the population most likely to abuse the archaeological zone, but employment and sales opportunities there would generally be reserved for the ejidatarios and their relatives.

During the field survey of communal and ejidal lands with the Commission it was clear that given their relative youth many did not have a clear idea as to the boundaries of the lands under their responsibility. Most have some form of employment in the city of Oaxaca, and their ideas of benefits for their community are linked to commercial opportunities which might be generated by the archaeological zone. As an example, one mentioned that in San Martin Mexicapam there are a number of goldsmiths who make copies of the jewels found in Tomb 7. Nevertheless, "they cannot sell direct to the consumer, as the production is monopolized by 'Gold of Monte Alban', the jewelry store authorized by INAH to sell copies. The craftsman is marginalized, selling his product cheaply, and without recognition of his effort and artistic accomplishment". To the ejidatarios this reflects INAH's appropriation of their lands for the commercial benefit of tourist-based businesses in the center, depriving them of participation in the profits.

The San Martin Mexicapam Land Protection Committee: This group to a certain extent represents the counterpoint to Commission, which it characterizes as land speculators. Consisting primarily of older and elderly residents, this informal organization represents the interests of the more conservative people in San Martin Mexicapam. Many are campesinos convinced the lands around Monte Alban "…should continue to be cultivated to protect what is still buried there". A high percentage of the group worked on or had some relationship with the projects of Alfonso Caso, and remember "…the discoverer of Tomb 7 was Pablo Garcia, a worker from San Martin Mexicapam", a fact which they recount with pride.

The members of this committee are perfectly familiar with the boundary markers and tract locations of their community, and characterize the Ejidal Commission as "…those who take advantage by selling farmland for their own benefit…", and as people more interested in short-term political or commercial advantages than in long-term or collective gains for the community. And they are skeptical of Commission contacts with INAH on the grounds "…they are not for the benefit of Monte Alban, but to gain commercial advantages and better select the lands most vulnerable for sale or invasion". Members of this committee claimed it organized sometime ago both the advise the Commission and to call it to account when necessary. Beyond that it has other interests, such as recruitment of people from San Martin Mexicapam for work as watchmen or other support positions at Monte Alban "…because these are permanent positions". They would also like "…to see some way of creating a museum in the community to safeguard all the idols people have in their homes, which are a lot."

Their sense of identification with Monte Alban is revealed in their sentiment that "…the boundary line is approapriate because it includes everything where there are remans…" and "…the ruins should be seen as a collective cultural heritage and not as a target to be invaded by people whose behavior divides and damages San Martin Mexicapam". Nevertheless "…they should have called them to participate in the boundary-setting so everyone would have been informed and there would have been no problems."

Residents of Colinas de Monte Alban:

The subdivision of Colinas de Monte Alban is located opposite boundary marker 16 and on its north side adjoins the private property of the Bustamante family. To the west its effective boundary is the highway which goes up to Monte Alban, to the south ejidal lands of San Martin Mexicapam, and to the southeast Colonia Hidalgo. The residents of the subdivision are in large part teachers, doctors in government agencies, engineers and architects working in government, and employees of various federal agencies. In general they are professionals and have moved to the city from a range of backgrounds, or as one said "…from the Isthmus, the Mixteca, from Ixtlan, Ejutla, and Zimatlan, from Chiapas, Gunajuato, Veracruz, and the Federal District". The governing board of the residents' association consists of a president, secretary, treasurer, and two additional members. The board speaks for approximately 450 families, but the maximum number appearing at an assembly is 110. The residents are generally apathetic about the organization, and then tendency is for each family to address its problems on its own; for example, to deal with the problem of domestic break-ins people generally increase the number of dogs they own. As the people who live in the subdivision "…arrive home only to sleep…" there is little social cohesion.

The subdivision is fully serviced, with electricity, sewage, potable water, paved streets, trash collection, telephones, and police patrols. There is consensus that breaking and entering is a significant problem. The subdivision in the mid-1990s signed an agreement with the ejido of San Martin Mexicapam which led to the construction of some basketball courts there, and at times the youth of the subdivision gather there to play basketball with the youth of the ejido, almost the only contact they have with the "locals". It is clear that in time and space the relationship between the subdivision and its surroundings, including Monte Alban, is that they are different relaities. For most of the residents of Colinas de Mointe Alban the archaeological zone "…is a place where one goes to run…" rather than a place with educational significance. The problem of boundary-setting is a remote one—not because the subdivision is outside what was the pre-Columbian settlement zone—but because the boundary was drawn around the subdivsion, either from respect for the formal construction or to avoid problems with other agencies.

Socially the residents are aware their subdivision was built in a marginal area of the city of Oaxaca and San Martin Mexicapam. The state government decided to try to break the viscious circle of irregular settlements-delinquency through the formation of subdivisions by the Oaxaca Housing Institute. As noted earlier, subdivision residents are largely professionals who have been dropped into this marginal context. The social conflict which this has generated translates into house break-ins or petty violence against those favored by the government and considered rich by a population which feels its own marginality. Subdivision residents consider it dangerous to develop any kind of relationship with the others, "…even to riding in the same buses…," and develop their social life outside the area. To them the local population "…did not have the vision to develop an adequate residential setting but allowed the expansion of irregular settlements inhabited by a low class population, which in turn generates uncontrolled delinquency." The only relation they have with the local population is in its role of service provider, for it is here they acquire household help, women who wash clothes or make tortillas, or provide other services sought by a middle class suburban population.

Interviews with subdivision residents are revealing both for the different sense of engagement with the boundary setting process and for the intellectual distance from Monte Alban. On the boundary-setting process the committee commented:

"…we have no problem with the boundary, as this used to be the private property of Jaime Hamilton, and the IVO built the subdivision in two stages, first 120 houses and then 420 more. As all this is government construction there is no problem with legal title. As residents of the subdivision they were aware of the boundary-setting of 1992 but it did not affect them because they are outside the archaeological site; in the neighboring communities there was no consensus and for them there are problems."

Residents of the subdivision generally think that to generate more interest in the conservation of Monte Alban INAH needs to ally itself with agencies which can "…develop an economic product which attracts people". They also argue for more emphasis on education among the young, "…starting with popular culture, with stories in popular magazines, school workshops, contests, and other activities, working with the parents' committees, and thereby nurturing the conscience necessary for the conservation of archaeological zones". Their own behavior suggests little such conscience. When asked about their own use of Monte Alban they commented "…they do not go on trips to Monte Alban, except to exercise or run. A few people go up with their families but rarely more than once…."

One theme which appears with great consistency in popular memory and the accounts of the boundary-setting process is the arbitrary and high-handed, even authoritarian, style of the INAH representatives and professionals who participated in the 1992 revision. It leaves the impression there was little effort to work with the committees, commissions, officials, and other representatives of Monte Alban's neighbors. Yet the files in the regional office of INAH are filled with invitations, notifications, minutes of meetings, and other documentation, sometimes directed to and signed by the same people who in subsequent interviews complained of INAH's behavior. One can argue this shows the power of selective and collective memory, or the tendency to "forget" details which might call into question the story being told or one's part in it. Few commented on the apparently widespread involvement of ejidal, communal lands, and municipal authorities in illegal and fraudulent land sales. But the issue here is not to discredit testimony, it is to remind us that what is written down at one point or is a point of consensus is subject to constant revision, and to make the assumption that something is settled or fixed is to make an assumption which is both optimistic and potentially disasterous.

As the foregoing amply demonstrates, Monte Alban's status as an archaeological zone spanning several jurisdictions in a rapidly-changing environment generates space for the emergence and activities of a large number of social actors. This contrasts dramatically with Mitla, where the fact that the zone is contained within a single, more homogeneous jurisdiction reduces compexity of issues associated with land tenure and rights. On the other hand, the number and diversity of economic interests competing for access to tourism in Mitla is much greater than in Monte Alban. While the size of Monte Alban creates the potential for controversies over land issues, the very compactness of the archaeological zone in Mitla, in conjunction with the way visitors are addressed by economic actors, means that group struggles for access to the opportunities visitors imply easily intrudes into INAH's policy and management domains. This reinforces the opening argument in this chapter, i.e., INAH needs to recognize the diverse origins and interests of the groups with which it interacts in the process of heritage conservation.

Unlike Monte Alban, in Mitla the process of urban growth toward the archaeological site has a very long history (Robles and Moreira 1984; Magadan 1984). Since the colonial period, but particularly in the twentieth century, the contemporary urban settlement of Mitla has extended across the earlier site, and since the 1950s has invaded the areas of monumental archaeology (Magadan 1984: 199). Most of the land involved has been communal land with use rights ceded to families over time. Across the years the original families subdivided their lots to provide space for their childrens' households. While having no legal validity, the families formalized the division through private deeds signed in front of a notary public. Local people in effect accept these as property titles or at least treat them as such. Although the amount of land involved is modest in terms of hectares its strategic location means over the long term this means a gradual loss of control by the public sector through the Ejido and Communal Lands Committee.

Ejido and Communal Lands Committee of Mitla:

The office of Commissioner of Ejido and Communal Lands is filled through election as part of the governance system of Mitla. The commissioner, along with a team of twelve, is charged with controlling and administering the ejido and communal lands of the community for a period of three years. This position is second only to that of mayor in the hierarchy of community offices. The relationship of the committee to the archaeological zone is critical, as all the clusters of monuments whose boundaries have been officially determined sit on what are currently communal lands. During the period 1993-95 the commissioner and mayor engaged in a struggle for turf, with the former arguing the latter "…has authority over the urban area, but not the communal lands which surround it."

The commissioner took the position that addressing the problem of inappropriate use of lands immediately adjacent to the clusters of monumental structures required a process of negotiation on a case-by-case basis, that is "it is necessary to talked with those affected one by one". He agreed the land closest to the monuments needed to be vacated and offered to grant lands elsewhere to ejidatarios or to those holding communal land who accepted relocation, as long as INAH would compensate them for structures lost. Of course the problem here is that the archaeological zone in Mitla does not receive a regular budget for systematic maintenance or weeding, so it is hardly likely to receive funds to compensate communal lands users for displacement from their holdings. In commenting on ejidal lands affecting another portion of the archaeological zone (the Fortress, whose boundaries were set in a preliminary way in January, 1994), he indicated that once these boundaries were set by INAH and the Agrarian Solicitor's Office it would be urgent to place signage so indicating, as "…only by marking clearing the boundaries will people pay attention to them."

Association of Affected Parties of the Arroyo Group: In 1993 the Oaxaca state government approved a special budget allotment of $800,000 pesos for salvage and restoration work in Mitla. Given the priorities established by the Mitla Project in the 1980s and given the amount budgeted, INAH's Oaxaca Regional Center decided to begin archaeological excavation and salvage in the complex known as the Arroyo Group. Salvage of this cluster was particularly important as over the years the invasion of its immediate surroundings by residences had become a critical issue. The space itself had become a de facto dump, with the patios used as a meeting place for drunks or for other vices, and in general its destruction by a combination of factors left it vulnerable to irreversible damage in the near-term.

Once excavation, consolidation, and general recovery of the immediate environment began problems with the neighbors started. INAH's technical team decided it would be advisable to plaster the back walls of the adjoining houses, as these had generally been left bare and unfinished, giving the immediate surrounding an unkempt and disorderly appearance. Although INAH initiated discussions with neighbors to gain their permission to carry out the plastering, this provoked the ire of some. These took it upon themselves to organize against INAH, calling itself the Association of Affected Parties of the Arroyo Group (Figure 67). Among other actions this group interfered in negotiations underway with two neighbors to sign purchase contracts for house lots inside the archaeological zone boundary. Although the neighbors had agreed to sell their properties and had settled on a price, the Association pressured them not to sell and left them in such a difficult position vis-a-vis the rest of the community that the owners had to withdraw their offer. As a consequence the funds set aside for this purchase had to be returned to the state government on the grounds "…that it was not feasible to utilize them" (Archives of the Archaeological Section, INAH CRO).

At the end of 1994 the Association of Affected Parties decided to join the State Federation of Agricultural, Livestock, Forest, Craft, and Marine Producers to exert greater pressure on government agencies and gain immediate attention for its claims. By joining the Federation the group automatically became part of the Democratic Campesino Union, a political bloc used to negotiating issues at a very different level, given its relationship to the government political party, the Party of the Institutionalized Revolution (PRI for its initials in Spanish). While the Federation argued its purpose was to "…stop problems before they got out of control", in fact it basically survives as an organization by taking an advocacy position for the interests of its members. Rarely does it analyze the issues of the case, instead taking the members' arguments at face value. Thus the Federation automatically joins the opposition to INAH's conservation efforts in the archaeological zone by supporting the position of the neighbors around the Arroyo Group.

A fundamental difference between social actors organized around land issues in Monte Alban and Mitla is that in the first case the ejidatarios or municipal authorities are part of an ongoing institutionalized presence, and the neighborhood or colonia associations also develop a formal structure as they mature. In contrast, in Mitla opposition groups spring up suddenly, have little initial organization, and are more visceral than policy-driven. In the case of the Association of Affected Parties the probable gains to the neighbors and their tourist-oriented enterprises clearly outstripped alleged problems, making it more difficult to understand the nature of their opposition, and therefore in a larger sense to anticipate or respond to it.

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