Chontal of Tabasco - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Within Tabascan society, the Chontal Maya (as well as all other Indians) are at the bottom of the social scale. The desire for higher status is a major reason for the assimilation of Chontal Maya into Ladino society. Among the Chontal Maya, status depends on economic success, particularly in communities in which political, religious, and traditional avenues to advancement no longer exist.

Political Organization. The formal government is run by officials of the municipio, who are periodically elected according to Mexican federal laws. For the most part, elected officials are Ladinos. In some Chontal communities, traditional officials—elderly men who have held religious posts—are still being elected.

Social Control and Conflict. Social control is maintained through familial constraints and by Church officials and the Mexican legal systems; however, the 1990s have been characterized as a period of increasing social unrest among the Chontal Maya. The economic crisis in Mexico, the civil war in Guatemala, and the rebellion of the Mayan Indians in the neighboring state of Chiapas are all contributing factors.

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