Mexico: Walmart near Teotihuacan



We concluded our postings about the Wal-Mart near Teotihuacan with an account of the crowds of Mexicans flocking happily into the store. Belatedly a Mexican psychologist, Diego Alvarez, repeats the arguments of the protesters. I excerpt one passage: "The store is being built less than a kilometer away from the pyramids, the problem and the main arguments of the protesters are: -The store will damage the landscape...once you go up the pyramid, you will see a huge silvered sealing and the big  WAL MART sign". 

RH: I know Mexico from one end to the other, and I first visited Teotihuacan in 1944.  However, I have not seen the Wal-Mart store. Is it less than 1 kilometer from the ruins? Other sources say 1 kilometer, others 1 mile, others even two miles, I don't know.  The distance seems to vary according to the views of the commentators.  I have seen only a photograph of the store. There was no  sign onit,  Perhaps the sign was added after the photograph was taken.

The argument seems to involve one's attitude toward Indian culture.  Mexico Cathedral is the symbol of the Catholic faith.  It is surrounded by stores, and if you go to the top of it, you will see a forest of stores. Teotihuacan is a focal point for those devoted to pre-Christian cults.  There is no written  record of Teotihuacan, and there are abundant theories as to why it disappeared. Despite this, a cult has arisen around it promoting the belief that it was the center of an ideal society, a lost paradise. This is the source of the Aztlan myth promoted by young Mexican American activists.  It is comparable to the old belief that Mayan society was similarly a utopia, a legend that thrived until it was debunked by modern scholarship.

This seems to be a universal phenomenon. Those who stage ceremonies at Teotihuacan are like those who do so at Stonehenge in England. They dress up as Druids and reveal a naive view of prehistory.  In Germany, there was the myth which the Nazis promoted that Barbarossa would be reborn and restore the ideal Germanic society.  In Brazil there was a similar legend about Canudos.There was the classical myth about a lost Golden Age. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, there is the belief in the Garden of Eden before the fall of man. Presumably there are similar legends in Asia.  Here is a vast field for psycho-historians and anthropologists.

Randy Black writes: Good grief, the store isn’t even named WalMart, it’s a Bodega Aurrera, the name of their Mexican affiliate. The project cleared all relevant scientific and governmental challenges including gaining the blessing of the UN and the International Council of Monuments and Sites in Paris. Mexico's National Anthropology Institute that oversees the ruins - located outside Mexico City - has said that the store poses no threat. I hear no protests about the hundreds of other commercial establishments that have surrounded the pyramids for the past decade. What’s all the fuss now about one chain store that clearly the locals want and need. By the way, from news reports, it’s about 1.5 km from the entrance to the park that includes the pyramids, NOT 1.5 km from the pyramids. To give you a clue as to how popular the store is, 2,000 people showed up to interview for 185 jobs. Further, the store is in the center of a buffer zone comprised of hundreds of existing stores that have existed there for years. In case you haven’t been there lately, the pyramids are virtually surrounded by homes, shops, streets, highways and other commercial entities.

Your comments are invited. Read the home page of the World Association of International Studies (WAIS) by simply double-clicking on:   http://wais.stanford.edu Mail to Ronald Hilton, Hoover Institution, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Please inform us of any change of e-mail address.

Ronald Hilton 2004

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last updated: November 24, 2004