Chiapas one of the states with the greatest natural, historical and cultural wealth in Mexico. Chiapas are excellent hosts. In some places religious syncretism is ubiquitous.
The oldest prehistoric remains of Chiapas are stone tools dating back fourteen thousand years ago, found in the Teopisca - Aguacatenango area. About seven thousand years ago, certain groups inhabited caves such as those of Ocozocoautla and Santa Marta. Rock paintings have been found in the La Venta river canyon.
From historical times, the oldest vestiges, of Olmec origin, belong to the early Preclassic (1200AC). They are mainly archaeological sites not yet open to the public. But those who visit Pijijiapan will be able to see - after a short walk - the Relief of the Soldiers, a monolith sculpted 3,200 years ago-Other ancient settlers were groups from the Mixe-Zoque linguistic family.
In Soconusco, Izapa was a busy city for a long time. The site, little explored, raises the question of the transition between the ancient zoques and the Mayans who began to prosper from the year 200. A large portion of the site is open to the public.
Mayas and zoques lived their heyday in the classical era, from 300 to 900 AD. Between the years 600 and 800, the great Mayan cities of Chiapas in the Usumacinta lowlands, such as Palenque, Toniná, Yaxchilán and Bonampak, flourished. Also of some less influential, in the highlands like Chinkultic, Tenam Puente and Lagartero. Most of these cities fell into rapid decline at the beginning of the XNUMXth century and, by the middle of the XNUMXth century, all were abandoned cities in an environment where small settlements proliferated that no longer had a writing system. Over time, the Chiapa ethnic group, of Nahua origin, became the predominant one.
The Spanish conquerors arrived in Chiapas in 1524, with the intention of colonizing according to a distribution of land that went from Coatzacoalcos (today in Veracruz) to Copanaguastla. The following year, Pedro de Alvarado passed through Soconusco on his campaign to Guatemala. The Indians did not agree peacefully to the presence of the Spanish, and in 1524 and 1526 they undertook expeditions to the highlands with the purpose of subduing the Chiapa. During the second, under the command of Diego de Mazariegos, a seasoned group of Chiapa indigenous people chose death rather than submit to the Spanish, throwing themselves into the Sumidero canyon from the Tepetchía rock, according to tradition. Mazariegos dismantled a short-lived Spanish settlement, San Bartolomé de los Llanos, near what is now Comitán, and moved its neighbors to Villa Real, now San Cristóbal de Las Casas. There the first city council was established, a body of local government that played a decisive role in Chiapas history.
General Captaincy of Guatemala.
The government of what is now Chiapas territory was initially in charge of the New Spain authorities based in Mexico City. However, from Spain it was decided, in 1530, that Chiapa (the highlands, the jungle and the Grijalva valley) would remain in charge of the General Captaincy of Guatemala, dependent on the Viceroy of New Spain. There was a local government between 1540 and 1544, but Chiapa then returned to the jurisdiction of the Captaincy of Yucatan until 1790. That year his Intendancy was established, which also covered Soconusco.
Church history also had setbacks. In 1539 the diocese of Chiapas was erected, but the first bishop passed away and in 1544 the successor: the Dominican Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, was consecrated in Seville. This character, at the time already 70 years old, had witnessed the damage caused in the Antilles by the European presence. Under his influence, in 1542 the emperor Carlos V promulgated the Nine Laws, which would gradually suppress the encomienda, an institution that Las Casas saw as the primary cause of abuse of indigenous people. In his diocese of Ciudad Real, he soon collided with the encomenderos. He moved his headquarters to Chiapa de Corzo, but two years later, fearing for his life, he returned to Spain, where he died at the age of 92. Las Casas favored his Dominican co-religionists, who displaced the Franciscan and Mercedarian evangelists who had arrived earlier. Indigenous and European people did not live together in peace. A well-documented confrontation occurred in 1692, when the population of Tuxtla killed the mayor, who came from San Cristóbal. But the repressive aftermath far outweighed the riot that caused it. In 1712, the Tzeltals also rebelled, this time due to the excesses of the Franciscan Fray Juan Bautista Álvarez.
Efforts to incorporate the Lacandons into the European way of life did not stop either. One of the last attempts, the foundation of a Lacandón town, promoted by the priest José Manuel Calderón, from Palenque, had an ephemeral result: the Lacandones left the town and returned to the jungle.
Chiapas's remoteness from the centers of power kept its territory on the fringes of the war of independence. In 1813, the year of the only local combat between insurgents and royalists, the deputy for Chiapas before the Cortes of Cádiz proposed several measures to stimulate the regional economy, from which authorization to trade by sea from Chiapas ports emerged. But on August 28, 1821, when Viceroy O'Donojú signed the Mexican Independence Act, things changed. The city council of Comitán proposed to become independent from Spain. Those from Chiapa, Tuxtla and Ciudad Real seconded the proposal and, a few months later, on January 8, 1822, in a meeting of notables, the Spanish Governor of Guatemala encouraged the incorporation of all Central America into the newly formed Mexican Empire, headed by Agustín de Iturbide.
A year and a half later, when Iturbide abdicated, Central America separated from the empire and, on July 29, a provisional governing board declared Chiapas independence. General Vicente Filisola, at the time in Chiapas with his troops, dissolved the junta and, in response, the Comiteco city council issued the Chiapa Libre plan. The following year, when the councils were renewed, in Ciudad Real and Comitán the supporters of joining the Mexican federation won, through a highly controversial plebiscite. The Soconusco declared its incorporation into Guatemala, but eventually it remained as neutral territory, until its annexation to Mexico in 1841.
The beginning of independent life also confronted liberals and conservatives. In 1831, for example, there was a first transfer of the state capital, from San Cristóbal to Tuxtla, in disgust at the governor's reform measures.
War of the Reformation and French intervention.
Mexico suffered ten years of practically continuous war between 1857 and 1867. First, the war between conservatives and liberals or the War of Reform (December 1857 - January 1861) and, later, its consequence: the French intervention (1862 - 1867) , promoted by the defeated conservatives and by the high clergy.
In Chiapas, the war was longer: from 1855 to 1870. It began with the lifting of the Guatemalan customs officer Juan Ortega, supported by smugglers and separatist groups from Comitán and by Guatemala itself, which facilitated mercenaries. Ortega's uprising, initially without ideology, turned in 1859 to the side of the conservatives and established a supposed government that was characterized by countless abuses. He was momentarily arrested in 1860 through military action by the liberal government. In 1863 he joined the Yalmutz Plan and, supposedly, the Maximilian Empire, imposed by the French. Some historians think that Ortega's activities always had separatist purposes in favor of Guatemala or, in any case, Ortega himself and his sponsors. He was defeated, but never captured, and for a long time he prowled the border like a bandit. In addition, after the restoration of the Republic in 19867, the so-called Caste War (1867 - 1870) broke out in Chiapas, a rebellion of indigenous people, mainly Tzeltales, who had very bloody profiles.
In museums and other venues in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapa de Corzo and, especially, in Comitán, documents and other evidence of that eventful period in Chiapas history are preserved.
Porfiriato and Revolution.
Porfirio Díaz Mori (1830 - 1915), a native of Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, is probably the most controversial figure in the modern history of Mexico. Liberal, hero of the Reformation, hero of the Republic in his fight against the French and, in 1871, insurgent in favor of democracy: "Let no citizen prevail and perpetuate himself in the exercise of power, and this will be the last revolution ... ”, He stated in his Plan de la Noria, dissatisfied by the reelection of President Benito Juárez. In 1876 he rose up in arms and the following year he became president. Re-elected without real elections or through interpositories, Porfirio Díaz ruled Mexico until 1910. That 33-year span is known as Porfiriato, that is, the period of the Porfirio Díaz dictatorship.
Material progress was observed throughout the country. The railway network was laid and a significant portion of the enormous road network inherited from colonial times was rescued or renovated. Electric power, telephone, large urban works ... modernity came to the country with the support of numerous foreign investments attracted by the Díaz government. Chiapas was no exception: In Tuxtla, the School of Arts and Crafts was established; the city was connected to the Isthmus railway by a well-laid road and the first large suspension bridge was built over the mighty Grijalva river.
In the vicinity of Tapachula, European families, mainly German and Swiss, established, in the midst of the wild, large farms in which the cultivation of coffee prospered, which was to become a strategic product in the Chiapas economy.
The price of such progress was high. The same man who in 1871 spoke of democracy, in 1879, before a rebellion that arose in Veracruz, ordered the governor of that entity, when he asked him what to do with the prisoners: "Kill them hot." Many dissidents died in this way during the dictatorship, until Díaz had to admit that his had not been “the last revolution”, when the entire country rose up in arms in 1910. In 1911, Porfirio Díaz resigned from his position and he exiled voluntarily. He died in Paris in 1915. The peace lasted two years. In February 19113, the military Victoriano Huerta, with the support of the United States ambassador, assassinated President Madero and carried out a coup. Then a long war began: first, against the new dictatorship, which fell in July 1914. During the huertista dictatorship, Dr. Belisario Domínguez, a native of Comitán and senator of the Republic for the state of Chiapas, published the text of a speech that he was not allowed to deliver in the Chamber. The dictator's response was to order the murder of the politician, after mutilating his tongue. In the city of Comitán the House Museum of that hero is open to the public.
In 1914, the United States invaded Mexico. There were fighting in Veracruz and that port was occupied by the Marines for some months, until a diplomatic solution was reached. Later, the revolutionaries were divided and the civil war began within the Revolution itself. It was then that the conflagration reached Chiapas territory, with the struggles between the leaders Venustiano Carranza and Álvaro Obregón.
Old rivalries were reborn, in 1924, Chiapas had two governments, neither recognized by the national capital. The distribution of land, a fundamental issue in the state, began in 1928. Until now, the history of agrarian distribution in Chiapas is a matter of controversy.
Religion, another national problem when the Revolution was young, also unleashed problems in Chiapas. The cults law, applied with intolerance, provoked new rebellions by the Tsotsil and Tseltal indigenous groups who, as can be seen in this summary, have never really been satisfied with the impositions of the intrusive numbers that, with one flag or another, the they have stripped a destiny of their own.
The tourist wealth of the state of Chiapas can only be described as extraordinary. For this reason, the state and federal authorities have spared no effort in recent years to make known to nationals and foreigners how much there is to see in the state and, at the same time, the value of its enormous tourism potential for development. of its population.
The indigenous population of Chiapas is as extensive as it is diverse. More than ten different languages are spoken in the state. Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Chol, Tojolabal, Zoque and Mame stand out for the number of speakers. The culture of Chiapas, in addition, constantly enriches its expression due to the continuous transit and contact between different ethnic groups. It was always a natural route of migrations and therefore of frequent cultural and commercial exchange. The European, black and Asian cultures contributed to the wealth of Chiapas, to the extraordinary creative capacity of each of the Chiapas peoples.
Chiapas is tradition, dance and above all marimba music, an instrument symbol of the Chiapas identity that links it, even more, to a cultural encounter between Mexico and Central America, with whose environment, Chiapas maintains complex and ancient relationships. Integrative instrument because its construction brings together the three sources of the Chiapas: the original cultures as well as those from Castile and Africa.
The countless fairs and festivals that are traditionally held every week of the year, in different towns and cities, usually celebrating their patron saint, such as San Sebastián Mártir, San Antonio Abad, San Caralampio, the Lord of Esquipulas or Tila; in some cases the celebrations are very simple, in others they have a tradition that dates back to the colonial period or ancestral indigenous customs, while others have mixtures of religious and profane celebrations such as the Parachicos of Chiapa de Corzo.
Artistic cultural festivals are held every year in the main cities of Chiapas, such as the International Festival of Marimbistas in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the Rosario Castellanos Festival in Comitán, the Cervantino Barroco Festival in San Cristóbal de Las Casas and the different livestock and commercial fairs, among those of Tapachula and Tuxtla Gutiérrez stand out. The festive traditions follow a strict calendar that complies with rituals, special foods, music, games and dance. Basically, the festive cycle is not unrelated to agricultural tasks and to many pre-Hispanic and Christian rituals.
Chiapas popular arts are among the most appreciated in the country, as they demonstrate the cultural plurality of our people. The elaboration of handicrafts not only responds to a need for identity, use, custom or geographic location, but also expresses the creative ability of individuals and the collective contexts that make up cultural expressions. Chiapas has an artisan mosaic, with a varied range of pieces that include the finest gold filigree jewelery, amber, ancient pottery, woodcarvings, silk embroidery, precious lacquer work and some of the more beautiful textiles and fabrics, among others, where the roots of indigenous Mexico come together, but also the contributions of the colonial and republican centuries. Handicrafts, handicrafts, useful and beautiful objects made from the depths of the hearts of its popular artists, virtuous weavers who, emulating the Mayan goddess of the moon, have proudly preserved the tradition of a trade from which dresses and costumes emerge whose meanings they are reflections of their history, of their towns and of particular worldviews.
These worldviews are also reflected in the most surprising archaeological zones of the Mayan culture, which had its greatest boom in the Classic period of the years 300 to 900 AD. The road from San Cristóbal to Palenque and the one that enters the Lacandon Jungle, They walk through a magnificent setting that allows you to discover not only the splendor of the Mayans, but the cultural grandeur of the peoples who descend from them. Archaeological zones such as Palenque, Bonampak, Toniná, Yaxchilán, Tenam Puente and Chinkultic are part of one of the greatest chapters of archaeological exploration in the country, and allow us to discover the great historical legacy of Mayan culture, up to the extraordinary conception of color , line and sculptural monuments with hieroglyphic inscriptions.
The routes that Chiapas offers for its colonial and republican monuments are also surprising. Tour that begins in the modernity of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the state capital, to continue through the Mudejar of Chiapa de Corzo, the baroque of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, the neoclassical of Comitán, the art deco of Tapachula, to name a few examples.
Chiapas has been and is a land of illustrious men and women, great artists, writers, scientists and defenders of the homeland, whose sensitivity and intelligence demonstrate quality, such as Jaime Sabines, Rosario Castellanos, Mariano N. Ruiz, Belisario Domínguez and many more . It is not only the rituals or the festivals, the culinary tradition, the artisan objects, the colonial cities and monuments, the archaeological zones and museums, its valuable and creative people, but the daily life itself, the manifestations that are present day by day in the life of a people and for that reason, they tend to go unnoticed, but they never cease to surprise, affect, move and intrigue, weaving a tangled knot of attractions for any traveler.
Chiapas food has certain features that distinguish it from other regional foods in Mexico; it is the product of diverse and multiple economic and cultural influences. Gastronomic mosaic made up of different universes where each town, each climate, each history, each region gives it its own characteristics. Even today, the more remote the places and the towns of the cities are, the more they preserve their food; for various reasons they continue to preserve their old eating patterns based on the combinations of corn, black beans and green chilies. Pozol comes from the very core of peasant cultures and its consumption is adopted as a ritual drink, which confirms being from Chiapas. Chiapas like to say that the outsider who drinks pozol "can no longer stop coming back to Chiapas", they have "tasted" the culture. Culinary mixtures cross spaces and times, give peoples their own identity and allow them to transcend time.
Some of our places that you can visit