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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Several Mayan Ruins are Unreachable Due to Cartel Violence in Mexico

"Socalj" for Borderland Beat

Mexico’s government has acknowledged that at least two well-known Mayan ruin sites are unreachable by visitors because of a toxic mix of cartel violence and land disputes.

But two tourist guides in the southern state of Chiapas, near the border with Guatemala, say two other sites that the government claims are still open to visitors can only be reached by passing through drug cartel or gang checkpoints.

The explosion of drug cartel violence in Chiapas since last year has left the Yaxchilán ruin site completely cut off, the government conceded Friday.


Things that some tourists once enjoyed — like the more adventurous trip to ruins buried deep in the jungle, like Yaxchilán, on the banks of the Usumacinta river and reachable only by boat — are either no longer possible or so risky that several guides have publicly announced they won't take tourists there.

Residents of the town of Frontera Comalapa, where the boats once picked up tourists to take them to Yaxchilan, closed the road in October because of constant incursions by gunmen.

Even the INAH admits there is no access to Yaxchilan, noting that “the institute itself has recommended at certain points that tourists do not go to the archaeological site, because they could have an unsuccessful visit.” But it said that the problems there are “of a social nature” and are beyond its control.

Cartel battles started to get really bad in Chiapas in 2023, which coincides with the uptick in the number of migrants — now about a half-million annually — moving through the Darien Gap jungle from South America, through Central America and Mexico to the U.S. border.

The guide said the ruin sites have the added disadvantage of being in jungle areas where the cartels have carved out at least four clandestine landing strips to fly drugs in from South America.


Meanwhile, officials concede that visitors also can't go to the imposing, towering pyramids at Tonina, because a landowner has shut off his land while seeking payment from the government for granting the right of way.

The cartel-related dangers are the most problematic. The two cartels warring over the area's lucrative drug and migrant smuggling routes set up checkpoints to detect any movement by their rivals.

Though no tourist has been harmed, and the government claims the sites are safe, many guides no longer take tour groups there.

Bonampak & Lagartero

The tour guides, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they must still work in the area, said that gunmen and checkpoints are often seen on the road to another site, Bonampak, famous for its murals.

They say that to get to yet another archaeological site, Lagartero, travelers are forced to hand over identification and cell phones at cartel checkpoints.

“They demand your identification, to see if you're a local resident,” he said, describing an almost permanent gang checkpoint on the road to Lagartero, a Mayan pyramid complex that is surrounded by pristine, turquoise jungle lagoons.

“They take your cellphone and demand your sign-in code, and then they look through your conversations to see if you belong to some other gang,” he said. “At any given time, a rival group could show up and start a gunbattle.”

The government seems unconcerned, and there is even anger that anyone would suggest there is a problem, in line with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's policy of playing down gang violence — even as the cartels take over more territory in Mexico.

“Bonampak and Lagartero are open to the public,” the National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a statement Friday.

But the damages are mounting for the Indigenous residents who have come to depend on tourism.

“Some communities sell handicrafts, provide places to stay, boat trips, and craftspeople. It affects the economy a lot,” said the first guide. “You have to remember that this is an agricultural state that has no industry, no factories, so tourism has become an economic lever, one of the few sources of work."

Source ABC News


  1. Tranquilo everybody, ALMO is working on improving security.

  2. Blame the president for everything! Geez!

    1. Amlo is weak. Cartels know that and keep growing. Now go hangbon Amlos nuts.

    2. 2:45
      And the president takes credit for everything when it's convenient!

  3. Sad.
    Also heard about still unexplored ruins located in cartel regions. And if cartels find those ruins, they sell everything they find on the black market.

    1. i saw that podcast as well good stuff

  4. More efforts to hide the truths of the old world..


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