“We do what we can, but it is not enough,” say workers from the Teotihuacan archaeological zone

Teotihuacan is an emblematic area for Mexico, it was one of the most relevant cities in pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica, in its heyday they came to inhabit between 100 and 200 thousand people. It is an area of ​​great historical and cultural value, it is also considered one of the main tourist attractions in the country. However, its majesty is in danger, its base workers denounce, “lack of personnel and budgets, we do what we can, but it is not enough.”

The archaeological zone of Teotihuacan was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, the following year, in 1988, the presidential decree was given for the protection of 3,381 hectares that cover a polygonal with three areas: The archaeological zone with 263 hectares, then the border zone with 1,738 hectares and the area of ​​consolidated towns with 1,378 hectares.

Speaking of the first painting, where the famous pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, the House of the Priest, the palace of Quetzalpapálotl, that of the Jaguars, the structure of feathered conches, the temple of Quetzalcóatl, the citadel, among other spaces, There are many needs that have been accumulating over time and are pressing.

For the 263 hectares of the meshed archaeological zone, there are 156 base employees, among them are 40 day guards for 10 work areas that comprise the archaeological zone, 12 night guards, for 4 areas; 13 ticket dispensers for 5 access points, 19 educational advisors to serve all tourists, 5 archaeologists for the entire area and 2 restorers for the site, among others.

With this active staff “we are in a gap of the functions that the Law gave us,” says José Enrique Vidal Dzul Tuyub, secretary general of the National Union of Workers of the Ministry of Culture. The places, far from increasing, have suffered a reduction over the years. “In 1998, 20 places were frozen and since then they have decreased, they are stopped with the argument that they do not have resources, that the payments are not justified.” In contrast, the needs grow.

Conservation, restoration and dissemination are limited

Edwin Romero Meneses, an architect specialized in the restoration of archaeological and historical monuments, with more than 40 years of experience, explains: “The objective of the INAH is not being fulfilled”, in 1939 it was born with the purpose of preserving, conserving, protecting, restoring, research and spread. “Those of us who are cultural workers demand that the authorities fulfill the purpose. We as workers do what corresponds to us, but we need budgets that consider the work of conservation, restoration and dissemination”. And he presented examples of the problems they face every day.

From the outset, the ceremonial center has barely 10% of the discovery of what the pre-Hispanic city was in its time of flourishing in the classical period. What the reconstruction work allows is to understand what the buildings were like and their character as scientific evidence. Also, “with everything that is around, we could easily build another three museums, but we do not have the technical, economic, or operational capacity to be able to show what we are finding every day.”

Romero Meneses also points out specific examples of the spaces that he has been assigned. To give functionality to the Quetzalpapálotl building, Caracoles Emplumados and the Jaguar complex, immediate maintenance intervention is required. “Take care of mural painting, foundations, recover original flattening, all through compatible materials.” This is because there are problems of weathering and temperature changes.

Compatible materials are required to stop deterioration of paintings dating to 250 AD, preserve color and stucco. The edging (reinforcement) is done to preserve the stucco, but it is not done with normal cement, as that would create new problems.

The specialist assures that these works allow the relation of urbanism to be known and understood, “it brings us closer to the understanding of a culture that to date has many enigmas”. But this also requires masons and specialized helpers. In relation to the magnitude of the archaeological zone, in his opinion, around 200 people hired per year would be required for this preventive maintenance work. Another topic would be the corrective and restorative part.

For her part, Gloria Dolores Torres Rodríguez, a restorer and in charge of several maintenance and conservation projects, explains: “Since the structures are excavated when they are exposed and exhumed from the earth, from that moment their deterioration begins when they come into contact with the new environmental conditions.

What supports the structures are stone cores with clay soil, a microscopic material that pulls and expels moisture, this makes it work constantly as a material. Then there are spaces with mortar, which are flattened with different thicknesses, these are the supports of the plaster, where the lime and color go. All extremely susceptible to changes in temperature, climate and human contact. That is why the different levels of urgency

He said that the maintenance of the surroundings is not constant either, so the vegetation grows, and it is another cause of deterioration, because the roots penetrate these earth cores and break and collapse the flattened ones.

“The sites are weeded, since we do not have adequate gardening material for at least the 263 hectares. The tool is specific for the excessive workloads”, says Miguel Abraham Campos Ricaña, assistant educator of the archaeological zone, adding to this the fauna of the area.

Deterioration and difficulties accumulate

Lázaro Salvador Moreno Rivera, finance secretary and head of the Union’s transparency unit, adds that in the area there are also needs that “it seems that they are not seen, but they are fundamental”, for example, the construction of a canine center is required , “Well, there are fauna problems inside the area, there are packs of up to 30 dogs that become a danger.”

The informative partitions have a deterioration of more than ten years. “It would be better to remove it because it is not possible to read the content, nor does it show information, like this, most information cards and maps are found.”

There are also no accesses for people with different abilities, even when the Law mandates it, “they only exist in some entrances, but to access the site comfortably, it is impossible.”

On the other hand, Teotihuacán is full of caves, the so-called “underworld” requires more studies for its understanding but there is no staff, for example, for the observatory, an area restricted to the public, there are three custodians, all of legal age explains Gabriel Campos, custodian and researcher.

The workers again raise their voices, their concern is great, they assure that the deterioration is typified and there are proposals for its maintenance and restoration, but not the budget, for this reason the call to their authorities, so that the Teotihuacán area is not abandoned. …Again, and even, due to this and other circumstances, it is in danger of losing the declaration as a World Heritage Site.

As a way to gather more resources, the union has put on the table the proposal to raise the admission of foreign visitors to the Mexican archaeological zones to at least 200 pesos. They warn, for example, that in Peru, access to Machu Pichu costs 70 dollars (approximately 1,370 pesos), while Teotihuacan is accessed for 85 pesos, except for children under 13, people over 60, teachers and students. nationals.

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