once saying that “when buffalo were still grazing in what is now New York, there were already universities and printing presses in Mexico”.
But archaeologists fear that a recent wave of swingeing budget cuts will decimate research into the country’s pre-Columbian past, and leave thousands of ancient sites – including Aztec temples and Mayan cities – at the mercy of looters.
More than 6,000 scholars recently signed a letter begging the president, commonly referred to as Amlo, to reconsider a 75% cut to the operating budget of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
“These draconian cuts will have an inevitable impact on our heritage, and on the training of new anthropologists, historians and conservationists,” said Leonardo López Luján, one of Mexico’s leading archaeologists.
“If this policy isn’t reversed soon, we’ll be sacrificing our past and our future.”
sprawling tropical railroad that critics claim will trample indigenous communities and archaeological material in its path.
Macario Schettino, an economist, described plans to cut government spending by up to a third across the board – except for the health ministry and the armed forces – as absurd.
“I don’t think it’s explicable. I think it’s a terrible decision,” said Schettino. “It will be impossible for public bodies to function.
“The government has serious financing problems, it’s not taxing enough and the economic crisis is very deep,” he said. “But all governments around the world are taking on debt to confront this crisis, because this is the rational decision. I think we’re the only ones who aren’t.”
Even Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil has abandoned austerity plans to cope with the pandemic. López Obrador, a self-described leftist who won the presidency and control of Congress in 2018 vowing to transform the country, has yet to raise Mexico’s historically low tax rates.
The latest body blow to Mexican archaeology comes as researchers make fascinating new discoveries – from a