Debt Peonage and Free Labor: Post–Caste War Sites in Northern Quintana Roo and Western Belize

Author(s): John Gust

Year: 2015


The Caste War left an indelible mark of the Yucatan Peninsula including helping to perpetuate abusive labor system that continued until the Mexican Revolution. This paper explores the living conditions at sugar productions facilities near the north coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico through comparison to a similarly-aged site in western Belize, San Pedro Siris. San Pedro Siris was a free village of primarily Maya families that were pushed south into Belize by refugees as the Caste War ended. Workers from San Pedro Siris worked as lumberjacks but remained independent. In comparison workers at sugar production sites in northern Quintana Roo worked under a system of debt peonage and land scarcity. As lumber and sugar production are of similar physical intensity, and as it appears that the primary source of imported goods for all sites under discussion were ships following a trade route that extended along the north and east coasts of the Yucatan Peninsula, it is proposed that the primary difference in way of life between these two areas was the ownership-labor regime in operation at each site.

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Cite this Record

Debt Peonage and Free Labor: Post–Caste War Sites in Northern Quintana Roo and Western Belize. John Gust. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396234)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.702; min lat: 6.665 ; max long: -76.685; max lat: 18.813 ;