Mazahua - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Cooperation within extended families, cooperation within the household, compadrazgo, mutual help, and community service create a sense of belonging that unites the community and gives people a sense of obligation to it.

Political Organization. The Mazahua do not have their own native system of government, so each village falls under a municipal administration. Each village has its delegate or subdelegate, who is named by the municipal president. Where there are both an indigenous and a nonindigenous population, presidential appointments fall to the latter. In some places there are also a tata-bisca and a tatapale, survivals of a native council of elders.

A strong religious organization may provide a village with a respected authority not recognized officially by the municipal government. Villages with ejido lands have an ejido commission with a president, secretaries, a treasurer, and an oversight council. Some Mazahua belong to a political party and/or a peasant organization involving production, marketing, or credit. The Mazahua Supreme Council is an ethnic organization, but, initially sponsored by the federal government, it is not particularly representative of Mazahua concerns.

Social Control. Municipal and ejido authorities are officially responsible for problem solving. There are, however, mechanisms of coercion and sanction for correcting those who do not act according to tradition or who do not fulfill community obligations. For example, those who have emigrated and changed their religion can not be buried in the same graveyard as their ancestors.

Conflict. The most frequent conflicts are over the control of local government (municipio delegates and ejido posts), and, in some cases, they are of an interethnic nature (between indigenous and nonindigenous members). At certain times, there may be conflicts between sympathizers of rival political parties or craft organizations. With changes occurring in the religious affiliation of some Mazahua, religious conflicts have also become noticeable.

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