This series of pictures were taken during my fieldwork in Chiapas, and illustrate the various political uses of San Cristóbal’s main plaza. The plaza, which faces the town’s famous cathedral is a highly touristic place. Named “Plaza de la Paz” (Peace plaza), it serves as the ending point of protests. My time in Mexico coincided with the disappearing of 43 students in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, which sparked national and international upheaval. The protests in San Cristóbal de las Casas gathered hundreds.
Protester during the march for the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students. The sign reads: "Treacherous government, killing your students!" October 2014

Protester during the march for the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students. The sign reads: “Treacherous government, killing your students!” October 2014

 

Protesters on San Cristóbal's main plaza. March for the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students. October 2014.

Protesters on San Cristóbal’s main plaza. March for the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students. October 2014.

While the plaza is often used by activists to denounces state politics, it is at times invested by government supporters. In the preparation of local elections, I one day came across a rally for the Partido Verde (Green Party).
Rally of supporters of the Green party on San Cristóbal's main plaza, months before the local elections. February 2015.

Rally of supporters of the Green party on San Cristóbal’s main plaza, months before the local elections. February 2015.

Finally, the events taking place at the plaza also highlight the transnational place that Chiapas has become something I explore in my work through the impact of international regulations on indigenous midwives.
Gathering n San Cristóbal's main plaza after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. The sign reads "From Chiapas, solidarity with Charlie Hebdo". January 2015.

Gathering n San Cristóbal’s main plaza after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. The sign reads “From Chiapas, solidarity with Charlie Hebdo”. January 2015.

In fact, the only event that I attended as part of my fieldwork is the celebration of the International Day of the Midwife, on May 5 2016
Midwives celebrating the Day of the Midwife on San Cristóbal's main plaza. May 2015.

Midwives celebrating the Day of the Midwife on San Cristóbal’s main plaza. May 2015.

Mounia El Kotni is a Ph.D. candidate in cultural anthropology at the University at Albany. For more information about her research, please visit her website

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