Tepehua - Sociopolitical Organization



An agente municipal is the maximal authority in Tepehua villages located in the state of Veracruz. He is elected every three years by a public assembly in the village, and his election is certified by the president of the municipio. Other offices make up the civil government of the village. In the Tepehua village of Pisaflores, for example, four tupiles are appointed to assist the agente, and a village judge ( juez auxiliar ) is also chosen by the assembly. The judge is aided by police ( alwásil ) selected from the young men of the Community. The police have the responsibility of collecting levies, guarding public areas when necessary, apprehending wrongdoers, and notifying people to appear before the village authorities. Pisaflores recognizes another respected councilor called the jefe de la comunidad, who is not formally recognized by the municipio authorities. This post derives from an earlier period of agrarian conflict when strong autonomous leadership was needed. The jefe de la comunidad does not interfere with the normal workings of the other authorities in the village but does oversee their activities.

Public work groups ( faenas ) are organized to repair trails and roads, to construct needed public facilities, and to cultivate the public lands supporting the school. Public oratory ( lacachínchin ) is the responsibility of an official called the mayordomo , who is aided by four other appointees ( vocales ), who collect assessments from all the villagers to pay for the major ritual at the lacachínchin. The mayordomo remains in office as long as he carries out his ritual duties properly.

The agente names an older man to serve as a fiscal , an official who has ritual duties related to the New Year's celebration. The fiscal is aided by three pixcales mayores , also named by the agente. According to custom, the pixcales mayores should be either sickly or feebleminded, as the Tepehua define these categories. The fiscal keeps the village's images of Catholic saints in his own house and takes them to the covered area in the center of the village for the rituals when the time arrives.

Women are also appointed as cantantes. Their duty is to sing Spanish songs during the Christmas celebrations. Four campaneros, one of whom is a leader called the mapaulán, are appointed by the authorities to take charge of the festivities during the Days of the Dead.


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