Mayan Priests denied access to Guatemala ceremonial sites

Photo: The Guatemalan gov't. Tourism board's "official" Oxlajuj Baktun celebration (modification mine—XJ).

At Global Voices, Renata Avila writes about how indigenous practitioners of traditional Maya spiritual practices were once again marginalized on the day where it seemed everyone in the world was talking about "ancient Mayan beliefs." What a crock and an outrage.

Guatemala, the heart of Mayan culture, has started their festivities for the 13 Baktun – the last cycle of the Mayan calendar, due to end on Friday, December 21, 2012. But sadly the celebrations were dominated by staged government shows which were neither led nor shared by indigenous communities or spiritual leaders.

On stage, non-indigenous peoples were wearing indigenous clothes in a folklore show while non-indigenous attendees from the Guatemalan elites were in the most important ceremonial Mayan center, Tikal, waiting for the new era to arrive. Indigenous peoples were left outside, were they were demonstrating, playing the traditional instrument marimba.

Racism against the indigenous population is rampant in Guatemala, where previous governments waged what was effectively a 36-year civil war against rural Maya. Current president Otto Pérez Molina is a former military officer charged with genocide and torture during that war.

"Institutional, interpersonal, and structural racism" are reflected in the exclusions reflected in the new Mayan era celebrations, Renata continues.

"Let's hope the Mayan priests will be allowed in and celebrate according their traditions and beliefs on the following days, as the festivities end on December 30 and that their voices and demands are finally heard by the international community."