08 February 2010

Mineral de Pozos Revisited

The first time I went to Mineral de Pozos was for a social engagement, a birthday party. I have been intending to go back to this colonial mining town, in great part now a ghost town, ever since. I wanted to see the abandoned mines, the ruins of the haciendas, and all.

I went back today, but I did not get to do much of the site seeing that I had planned. I got distracted by a remarkable story.

On a hill near Pozos out in the middle of nowhere, I saw a bunch of stuff. And that is all I could make of it from a distance. A bunch of stuff. I turned off and drove in.

The hill, a very large hill by the way, had little lots roughly marked off with stones gathered from this incredibly rocky ground. Here and there were shanties, some more elaborate than others.

This shanty town stretched on and on and on. It was completely deserted. We were utterly alone except that we encountered a young teenager humping her bicycle through on her way to school from miles back in the hills.

Some of the shanties had signs showing the name of the family or names of the families that had constructed them along with the lot number. The lots looked to measure on average 40 feet by 40 feet.

Based upon discussions the Mexicana and I had with the young girl at the site and later with a restaurant owner in town, this is the story as I understand it at this point. I will investigate further.

This is land owned by the government of México. Somebody started a rumor in the poor neighborhoods of larger cities in the area such as Queretaro, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosí and others. The rumor was that the government was selling these little lots to poor people for something between 500 and 1,000 pesos (between $38.00 American and $75.00 American).

This family abandoned the blanket with a smiley face out of which they had fashioned a door.

This rumor spread like crazy, and people started to flock in. Sure enough, they were met by guys in suits who collected their money, showed them their lots, and probably gave them a little official looking piece of paper. When the guys in suits had collected money from a whole bunch of poor people, the suits then disappeared.

I estimate that there are more than a thousand of those little lots out there. The thing goes on forever, as I said. Government officials forced all these new “land owners” back off the land as soon as the government found out what was going on.

Welcome to Maravilla. My family supports you. Count on our votes.

Christ on this crucifix near the entrance, which I presume was constructed by the government at some time and for some reason, now looks out over the desolation.


Bloggerboy FFM said...

That really is a fascinating story. It raises all sorts of questions about what these people were looking for and why they cannot find it through legitimate channels. How much would it take for someone to do it the "right way" and give the same people a shot at real ownership?

Señor Steve said...

I have just scratched the surface of this story, Bloggerboy. I continue to search for newspaper reports concerning the incident, so far without success.

Ruth said...

Holy cow. This story almost sounds like something out of 2666. It's a novel waiting to be written.

Señor Steve said...

I freely admit that I could have the story all wrong, Ruthie. This might have been some avaricious attempt at a land grab by poor people attempting to take advantage of the government's inattention--or somebody's inattention. Poor people will try that sometimes, you know. We call them "squatters" then.

In all seriousness though, something strange happened out there. I saw the physical evidence of it.

Ruth said...

Either way it's a good story, Steve.