MEXICO: Fifty Years: From Autonomy to Dependence


UC Berkeley Professor Laura Nader and San José State Professor Roberto González describe the erosion of autonomy in Talea, a mountainous rural village in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.

Not even the Spanish Conquest could destroy the foundation of knowledge upon which the Zapotec-, Maya-, and Nahuatl-speaking peoples built their respective civilizations. For more than 5,000 years, the indigenous communities of Mesoamerica domesticated and cultivated corn, beans, squash, chilies, and other crops to sustain themselves; wove cotton and wool for clothing; constructed entire cities of stone and earth (the remains of which are visible even today); used acupuncture, massage and natural pharmaceuticals for healing; and created stable and durable political institutions. But over the last 50 years, “development” has accomplished what generations of conquistadors could not achieve: the near destruction of an autonomous indigenous village in the Rincón Zapotec area of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Roberto J. González
Publication date: 
August 21, 2007
Publication type: 
Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies Article