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That pyramid scheme … evil under the fifth sun

9 November 2004

¡Gracias a “sparks”!

Wal-Mart’s expansion is not necessarily a boon for Mexico

Shameless stolen from: El Universal (Mexico News) 01 Noviembre 2004

Ever since I first got wind of plans to build a Walmart on the site of the pyramids of Teotihuacán, I couldn’t believe it.

At the dawn of Mexico’s colonial era, the Roman Catholic hierarchy of New Spain built its churches on the pyramid sites. The purpose was clear. The indigenous religion would be replaced by the one brought from Europe.

Then the conquistadors put up their palaces at the pyramid locations. The object was equally obvious. The indigenous forms of self-government would be obliterated by imported and imposed ones.

WALMARTIZATION Now, the tycoons of international trade want to construct an emporium on the grounds of one of the most significant pyramids. The reason, of course, is the profit to be made from the throngs visiting the historic spot. The focus on indigenous cultural identity would be overpowered by the spotlight on modern consumer culture. But the Walmart management should have learned from the lessons of history. Millions of lives and dollars have been sunk into rescuing what is left of the temples and turrets of Mexico’s oldest and most central historical legacy. What’s more, Walmart’s competitors Costco and Comercial Mexicana are caught up in an international boycott for destroying cultural and environmental treasures in order to build their mega stores in Cuernavaca, Morelos.

Why would the company be so brazen? Why would it stick out its neck to open a store on a UNESCO international heritage site? Why would it risk becoming the target of consumer scorn. Word has it that the Walmart got permits to do this 20 years ago, so the project commenced before foreign investors had witnessed the Costco debacle. Maybe they just don’t know that the pyramids are there. Maybe they don’t know that corruption is suspected in the permit process. If they don’t know, they are finding out fast, though, I’ll bet, especially since the Frente Cívico de Defensa del Valle de Teotihuacan is pushing for impeachment and criminal charges against the local mayor who allowed building to proceed this year, as well as charges against National Anthropology and History Institute officials who let this happen. The ad-hoc organization, which complained in a letter to Mexican President Vicente Fox, claims the fine is 10 years in jail and demolition of the building. Environmental, human rights, and other organizations have taken up its call for international solidarity.


But what does the issue have to do with environment and human rights?

I got the answer just the other day in another letter, this one fired off by Professor Jaime Lagunez Otero of the Frente Cívico de Defensa del Valle de Teotihuacan. Under the title of “International Boycott vs. Costco and Walmart,” he wrote:

“The true value of a human being depends on his spiritual development. We must be respectful of the planet and of the diversity of cultures. We cannot allow for corrupt, ignorant companies, to destroy our environment and our cultural treasures. Because the ancient religious sites are being desecrated and the peoples of the world have been offended, an international boycott has been called against foolish transnationals and their administrators.”

Lagunez signed the letter with an indigenous fare-thee-well: mexica tiahui. If Walmart, Costco and others want to remain competitive, the first thing they need to do to fare well in Mexico is to avoid building monuments to ignorance on environmentally sensitive sites.

Talli Nauman is a founder and co-director of Journalism to Raise Environmental Awareness, a project initiated with support from the MacArthur Foundation.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 22 September 2014 6:19 pm

    Thanks for finally writing about >That pyramid scheme
    evil under the fifth sun | The Mex Files <Loved it!

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