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Caste war of Yucatan (Guerra de castas en Yucatán)

Vittorio Sergi

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Central America » Mexico

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899, 1900-1999

Key-Topics colonialism, imperialism, inequality, rebellion, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00314.x


The caste war was a wide rebellion of the Mayan population of Yucatan against the white elite of the colonial government. The rebellion began as a widespread guerilla war against white rural properties. The Mayans then established autonomous territories; when they had gained enough strength, they threatened the main colonial centers of Valladolid and Merida. The war, influenced partly by religious ideology, was organized by a segmental political and military organization and lasted with unequal intensity from the upheavals of 1847 to the last armed clashes of 1933. In the nineteenth century, the society of Yucatan was a mixed system of colonial rule and institutions, with a combination of Mayan and colonial cultures. The ideological frame of the rebellion was established in a syncretic cult: several sanctuaries of the talking Holy Crosses arose in different centers of the rebellion. The cult had various prophets, the best known of whom was Juan de la Cruz, who claimed to foresee the resurrection of the Mayan culture and the punishment of white colonialists. Beginning in 1847, whites, led by Governor Miguel Barbachano, were driven out of almost all the territories of Yucatan. Then, between 1848 and 1851, with the support of the Mexican state, they regained the majority of the peninsula. The first Mayan leaders, Cecilio Chi and Jacinto Pat, were killed in 1849 over internal conflicts, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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