Despite the distance, the majority of Yucatecans in the U.S. form groups to keep their culture, traditions and even their language alive, affirmed Juanita López Alcocer, subdirector of Attention to Migrants of the Institute for the Development of Maya Culture (Indemaya).
She acknowledged that migration is an interesting and complex phenomenon, which is why Indemaya carries out various strategies to learn more about the case while providing support and guidance.
Recently, the Segob presented the “Diagnosis of Human Mobility in Yucatan”, and enunciated that from 2015 to 2020, there were five thousand 717 Yucatecan people, with a median age of 26 years, who left their home to reside abroad, specifically, the United States.
López Alcocer expressed that because they are young, “they are not aware of the consequences of their departure, since the main reason for their decision is economic”.
“Although there are many young people who say that they will only be in the United States for a year and will return, but in the end, most, if not all of them, do not return,” she said.
The average age of Yucatecan migrants is 26 years old, which generates numerous socioeconomic problems for the populations where they live, as well as emotional and psychological problems for their families, since from a cultural point of view, in most homes it is the men who make the decisions.
When they migrate to the U.S., they abandon their families, their children become orphans, the mother becomes the guardian and head of the family, minors stop studying, and there are numerous changes.
The situation becomes more complicated for the migrant, especially when he/she leaves illegally, because on the way he/she can be a victim of crime, drug trafficking, kidnapping or white slavery, in addition to the risks of nature, such as enduring the heat of the desert when crossing the border, or in his/her case, the Rio Bravo.
He commented that Indemaya conducts talks among high school students of the municipalities with high migratory index, in order to make them aware of the risks of migrating in a disorderly manner.
The municipalities that expel migrants are Tunkás, Oxkutzcab, Muna, Akil, Peto, Tzucacab, and Cenotillo, mainly.
When speaking about the stratigraphy of the Yucatecans in the United States, he commented that the majority of those from Oxkutzcab are in San Francisco and its bay.
While those from Peto are in San Rafael and San Francisco Bay, those from Muna live in Thousand and Oxnard, in California; those from Maní, Dzan and Chumayel, in Portland, Oregon. Those from Buctzotz and Tetiz live in Washington, D.C., while those from Tekit live in Seattle.
According to Segob, Yucatecans in the United States have 60 community organizations that seek to preserve the culture and strengthen support networks, of which 58 are in California, so that “the Mayan-speaking communities maintain strong ties both abroad and with their places of origin”.
The Indemaya official commented that there are two official organizations, such as Socios del Mayab and the Federation of Yucatecan Clubs of Northern California, both in that state. She clarified that the state agency is working on the elaboration of a registry of Yucatecan groups, in order to give them a certificate or recognition.
“There are groups that are not registered as associations, but they spread to their children everything related to the Mayan culture, and even in their children’s schools they promote the music and the jarana dances, with everything and their terno, in addition to the traditions, and “in the case of gastronomy, they frequently eat their panuchos, salbutes, and without fail, in November they prepare their pibes”.
In terms of religion, they worship the patron saint of the place where they live, and during church festivities, they also carry out activities typical of Yucatán, such as the jarana, etc.