31 ene. 2009

Maaya t'aano'ob (Mayan voices) in movement

While taking a break from dissertation writing I would like to comment and recommend this interesting work by a young filmaker from my hometown, Ticul. His name is Jaime Magaña Caamal and he is a member of the Turix Collective, a project of Yoochel Kaaj, a community video organization based in Merida.
In this work Jaime showcases the voices and thoughts of Oxkutzcab people with regard to international migration. It is estimated that more than 10,000 people from Oxkutzcab and its hinterland have migrated to the U.S., mainly to San Francisco and Oregon.
Some of these local voices talk of this migration as an inevitable future for their children and other young people in Oxkutzcab.
Since most of the local population make a living out of agriculture-related activities (either growing or selling local produce in the town marketplace, which is the largest agriculture centre of Yucatan outside Merida), they cannot help but being pessimistic about their economic future. Prices of agriculture and livestock products have steadily fallen since the 1990s. In spite of being Oxkutzcab the main trade centre for many rural localities of the three states of the Peninsula, it is precisely from this economically dynamic town that the majority of Maya-speaking migrants in the U.S. have originated.
The testimony of one market stallholder and citrus plot owner (2:33) is particularly telling. In Yucatec Maya, he presents his case: citrus prices are low and production costs high. That's why, he says, many people think: "It would better to go abroad if only to earn a little more" (2:58).
These voices speak too of how local professional people don't take the Maya-speaking peasants' problems seriously and how they offer them little help. That's how one Mestiza woman interprets her experience with a local doctor (3:12) who when her son got injured in the field told her with a blank face that he should take on a new job. She explains that this is the only activity that her son was qualified to do and that more support was needed, which she didn't get in the end.
An ex-migrant who worked in Oakland (3:59) comments how it was the desire of building his own house which encouraged him to migrate. Again, the Mestiza woman tells us that not all of those who go to the U.S. come back. Some of them die "on the other side". Some of those who go won't necessarily find prosperity as the man with the cowboy hat explains (4:55). And their debts would remain unpaid. The documentary finishes with a blessing and good wishes to all of those who decide to migrate in the quest for a better life.
Still pictures of Oxkutzcab, its market and its people highlight the sense of movement and dynamism of these Maaya t'aano'ob (Mayan voices).

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