Tzotzil of San Andres Larraínzar - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Andreseros still depend heavily on their milpas, which they normally cultivate in a slash-and-burn manner. Because of the lack of land and forest, fallow periods are very short, and fertilizer is often used to maintain the yield of the field. The machete, the hoe, and the planting stick remain the most important tools in agriculture. Maize is the main crop and, together with beans, constitutes the staple food of the Andreseros. Some richer families also have cattle, and almost every household raises some poultry, but sheep are rarely found in San Andrés. Adding to the diet, different vegetables are collected by women, or raised in house gardens. In the early 1980s cabbage was introduced as a cash crop. Cut flowers and apples are also becoming more and more important. In lowland areas, different kinds of fruits and coffee are grown and sold. Whereas most fruits are produced for the local market in San Andrés, coffee is sold outside the village.

Industrial Arts. Surely the most impressive craft in San Andrés is weaving. Weaving is a woman's task, accomplished with a backstrap loom. Carpentry and clay-brick and tile manufacturing are other village crafts. Wooden equipment and furniture were traditionally made by each individual or obtained in trade from the neighboring village of San Juan Chamula, but there are now four carpenters in San Andrés. There are also some men who make musical instruments, such as harps and guitars. Today San Andrés has bakeries, a butcher, a tortillería, several maize mills, a car-repair shop, and even a hostel. Other sources of income include government jobs, transport service to San Cristóbal de las Casas, various shops and restaurants, and wage labor, particularly in construction or agriculture. Besides the shops, there is a weekly (Sunday) market in San Andrés, where people from different villages and Ladinos from San Cristóbal come to sell their products. Most of the Andreseros also have access to different markets and shops in surrounding villages and cities. Seasonal labor migration to plantations is still an additional source of income.

Division of Labor. Most of the heavy field work is done by men, who also take care of the larger animals and are responsible for house construction. The political and religious offices are held by men, but women expend a considerable amount of effort while their husbands hold an office. Sheep, pigs, and poultry are raised by women, who also carry firewood, weave, cook, and cultivate house gardens. Marketing is done by both women and men, but trade outside the village and the transport of goods are mainly men's work. Other agricultural tasks are shared by members of the household—the parents with their unmarried children, and sometimes also the husband's parents. Workers from the village are hired occasionally, because of the intensification of agriculture.

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