In an interview with Don Valerio Canché Yah, president of the Council of Maya Elders and Priests, on April 17, 2009, I was given the following message:

“Today we are facing catastrophic situations such as droughts, floods, earthquakes, fires, depredation, deforestation, hunger, illness, war, extreme poverty, the use of force to gain power, and the loss of respect for ancestral values and elements.

It almost seems as if we have learned nothing.

If it is true that only when we are dying we remember Junab K’uj (the creator), it would be better if we would lift our hands when the sun comes out, not just to invoke it. It is worth reflecting on these situations which we are living today, and unite in this human struggle to find the true sources of human goodness among our citizens.

Let’s not continue to permit the mass media to rob us of our spirit of struggle, forcing us to think only of “stuff” imposed on us by mass marketing, which in turn affects our identity.

Let’s build a fatherland where we educate our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren so that they don’t end up as guests of the prisons.

Let’s not close our eyes to the urgent need to commit ourselves to organized society, giving strength to the real social demands, especially to benefit the most needy people.”

Anabell: How do you view the current situation of the Maya people?

Don Valerio: Sadly. The Maya used to live peacefully from their luck and from their work, cultivating, planting, and harvesting. Today we feel abandoned by the hands of our gods, now that the climate change has been caused by man, and for the loss of elements of our culture. The conquerors implanted an improper culture, which even now their own heirs repudiate.

Anabell: A solution to the problems of modern society?

Don Valerio: Our education system must include content of the ancestral culture, which would allow for a better educational base to develop. We need to encourage health, the cultivation of healthy foods, and the use of herbal medicine. The use of the cosmovision of the people as a base for the search for integral development. Only when a people knows its history and its weaknesses can it have the right to define its future, as the future which has been shown to us is as uncertain as the history we learn in school.

Anabell: How do you view traditional medicine?

Don Valerio: The true values are being lost, as the people who serve the community are influenced by bad policies which do not give these values the respect or support they deserve. The conservation of the elements of the Maya culture is of vital importance and requires diffusion and free participation. The imposition and subjugation have caused syncretism which damages the spirit; if I speak to you in Maya and you speak to me in English, neither of us understands the other, but if every religion practices their own spirituality that is accepted.

Anabell: A solution to the problems of modern society?

Don Valerio: Our education system must include content of the ancestralculture, which would allow for a better educational base to develop. We need toencourage health, the cultivation of healthy foods, and the use of herbalmedicine. The use of the cosmovision of the people as a base for the search forintegral development. Only when a people knows its history and its weaknessescan it have the right to define its future, as the future which has been shownto us is as uncertain as the history we learn in school.

Anabell:How do you view traditional medicine?

DonValerio: The true values are being lost, as the people who serve the communityare influenced by bad policies which do not give these values the respect or supportthey deserve. The conservation of the elements of the Mayan culture is of vitalimportance and requires diffusion and free participation. The imposition andsubjugation have caused syncretism which damages the spirit; if I speak to youin Maya and you speak to me in English, neither of us understands the other,but if every religion practices their own spirituality that is accepted.

By Anabell Castañeda
Email: [email protected]