Otomí of the Valley of Mezquital - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. Social organization among the Otomí is based on family relations and the network of mutual help that is interwoven through compadrazgo. The political solidarity created by the system of religious cargos has weakened, whereas the civil organizations linked to the national state have begun to take on greater importance. The religious festivals create cohesion and social identity. Migrants return to their communities at fiesta time and participate in social conviviality. Community work groups ( faenas ) and community service are still important in the construction of public works.

Political Organization. Otomí political organization is set by state and federal law. As a result of agrarian land reform, ejidos were created and, with them, organizational structures that link the community to municipio, state, and federal institutions.

Each ejido has an ejido commission that is the community's maximum authority dealing with problems having to do with landholding and agricultural work. In addition, there is a judge ( juez auxiliar ), and, in several cases, he is also the president of the ejido commission.

Social Control. Social control is exerted through the judge and, in some cases, a councilor ( juez conciliador ), named by the municipio authorities to solve minor conflicts, that is to say, those not involving bloodshed. Homicide is dealt with directly by institutions in charge of administering justice on a national level. The capital of the municipio is the regional political center; the highest political authority is the municipio president.

Conflict. In the 1980s primary and secondary school teachers in the state of Hidalgo, many of Otomí origin, mobilized to increase their salaries and gain control of their union. This struggle influenced other democratic movements in the municipios, generating electoral conflicts between political parties. Another source of conflict has been entrenched power holders, called caciques, who continue to dominate commerce and control the area's land and water resources. Finally, there are frequent conflicts over land boundaries.


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