Middle America - Responses
Conflicting reports make life confusing and interesting. This certainly
applies to Middle America. In a recent memo we reported on the Mexican
government's participation in an international consortium to build a canal
across Tehuantepec. Now we have a report saying that the consortium will
create a high-speed train service across the isthmus. It sounds as though
the Mexican government is desperately trying to show that it is doing
something for that troubled area.
Tim Brown says the mitochondria and linguistic studies support his
contention that there are no Mayan groups in Central America. Tim recommends
Adolfo Constenla Umana's "Las Lenguas del Area Intermedia", EDUCA, San
Jose, CR, 1991; he teaches pre-Colombian languages at the University of
Costa Rica. On mitochondria Tim recommends Ramiro Barrantes "Evolucion en
el Tropico - Los Amerindios de Costa Rica and Panama", EDUCA, 1993 and his
numerous articles, especially his "Mitochondrial DNA 'Clock' for the
Amerinds and its implications from Timing Their Entry into North America",
Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Genetics, 91, (1994),
1158-1162. Tim calls attention to the map on page iii of Ann Chapman's 1958
Columbia PhD dissertation "An Historical Analysis of the Tropical Forest
Tribes on the Southern Border of Mesoamerica" [Mesoamerica meaning the
Tim, who has just returned from the area, says there is no evidence of
interest along the San Juan in Nicaragua for secession to Costa Rica. "The
problems relate to drug and arms trafficking, a unilateral Costa Rican
decision to put armed launches on the legally Nicaraguan river without
first consulting Nicaragua, and several whiffs of possible petroleum
deposits that have suddenly made the San Juan region potentially valuable."
Possibly the reports I received about a secessionist movement on the
Nicaraguan boundary were Costa Rican propaganda.
Regarding the Nicaraguan claims to Colombian islands, Tim says that
Roncador, Quita Sueno, Serrano and Serranita have become drug depositories.
"They were ours until Carter gave them to Colombia without consulting
Nicaragua. Their major short term importance may well be to cause the
replacement of Colombia's Gaviria with Costa Rica's Calderon Fourbier as
Secretary General of the OAS, since territorial disputes and regional
solidarity are expected to override Nicaragua's short term unhapiness with
the Costa Ricans." I'm bewildered that President Carter could simply give
away some islands, but bewilderment is my usual condition.
Ronald Hilton - 08/21/98