Electricity, tourists seen as threats to civilization by Mayans

Even today, the peoples of the ancient Mayan civilization do not use electricity for a single daily activity, including lighting their homes. While they believe that using electricity makes life easier, they also believe that it can endanger their traditions and culture. They think that electricity would attract tourists, which would be dangerous for their culture.

That’s why they don’t only use electricity but also gas for cooking. Instead, the food is cooked on the traditional stove. The Maya people have ensured that their daily way of life has not changed for centuries and ensure the protection of their forests.

Their very existence revolves around the environment and nature and their daily routines are based on the seasons. The Maya people, who speak the Mopan language, belong to Guatemala and Belize, and their population is only 10,000, which is only 3% of the countries, and therefore their culture has been protected.

In Belize, the Mayan way of life is very isolated from the outside world and people have to work hard to protect their homes and lands. And while the world is changing at a rapid pace, it is becoming more and more difficult for them day by day.

The Mayan people are deeply concerned about their existence and the safeguarding of their culture because they, like many other communities around the world, have been confronted with the wrongs of racism and intolerance. Even though the Mayan civilization is now over, that does not mean that society has also ceased to exist. The Maya are still thriving amid the harshness of modern times, taking with them their ancient beliefs and practices.

Fear of “outsiders” like tourists among the Maya is natural. It was during the 16e century that the Maya civilization was conquered by the Spaniards. They were then forced to leave their land and work on the plantations. More than three centuries later, social movements sprung up in Guatemala, insisting that the Mayan highlanders be given fair wages as well as land that originally belonged to them. Like other oppressed peoples, these Mayans were met by the government with coldness, harshness and cruelty. Thousands of people died and many more became refugees.

In the 1985 Constitution of Guatemala, Article 66 recognized the Mayan peoples and granted them the right to speak their mother tongue, wear their traditional clothes, practice their customs and implement their social organizations. In Article 70 of the same Constitution, a law was requested to establish regulations concerning native matters.

The necessary law has still not been implemented even after 10 years. Moreover, in the electoral law, they still did not have the right of political organization. They continued to be belittled and ignored by the nation’s political elites until 1995. Despite this, Maya organizations continued to thrive fighting for the rights of the Maya people including land, education, cultural rights and civilians.

Today, the Maya go to all kinds of efforts to survive and continue to exist in many aspects of life.

To forget the old traditions of ancient times is synonymous with abandonment and ingratitude towards their heritage. So even though they were converted by the Spaniards to Catholicism, the Mayans still participate in the rituals, just as they did in the ancient Mayan world. This they did in conjunction with the rites of the Catholic Church.

For example, the Catholic Maya still make offerings of food and chicken in some churches. There are also some of them who worship deities like their maize god, to grant them good harvests.

On the other hand, in the southern district of Toledo, Guatemala, a master plan is being developed from scratch, aimed at increasing tourism in the region. But it is crucial to prioritize safety while working for an increase in tourism, as tourists bring diseases against which local people are not immune, due to isolation from the world. Another issue to consider will certainly be to safeguard the cultural identity of the Maya, as they have always been considered an “underclass”, but this must change, while safely integrating the Maya into the modern world.

Despite all the challenges, there is enormous scope for the development of tourism in Mayan villages. It should be noted whether it will be easy to exploit this tourist potential.