Where do the Mayans live today?
“We are not myths of the past, ruins in the jungle or zoos. We are people and we want to be respected, not to be victims of intolerance and racism.” –Rigoberta Mench’u Tum, winner of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize.
The ancient Mayan civilization may now be long gone but this does not mean that the society has also ceased to exist. In fact, up to this day, there are approximately more than six million Maya people still thriving, living and surviving amidst the harshness of these contemporary days. They are found in Belize, Mexico and Guatemala. These modern Mayans still manage to integrate their old beliefs while living with modernized practices. Like most of us, these modern Mayans also struggle for survival; also fight for their rights; also aim to be given respect by others.
They Fell, They Struggled, They Rose Again
It was during the 16th century when the Mayan civilization was conquered by the Spaniards; an event that prompted the great society’s even faster decline. Mayan people were dispossessed of their lands and forced to work in indigo and cocoa plantations. More than three centuries later, social movements rose in Guatemala insisting that Mayan highlanders be given fair wages as well as land that originally belonged to them. Just like the other oppressed people, these Mayans were responded to by the government with coldness, harshness and cruelty. Thousands died and many more became refugees.