Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cherán votes to ditch elections in favor of "usos y costumbre"

The village of Cherán in Michoacán, where its mainly Purépecha indigenous inhabitants have since March taken up arms against illegal loggers and organized crime, and in the process kicked out its PRI mayor, voted  two days ago to  ditch elections, in favor of the system of "usos y costumbres" used chiefly in indigenous areas in Oaxaca, and in a few areas in Sonora.

Usos y costumbres are a traditional and pre-hispanic - and mightily complicated - means of selecting leadership and solving conflicts. Yet they are not without their critics. There is often no semblance of a secret vote, and often women are left out of the equation, as office holders as well as voters.

Cherán is the only municipality to introduce them in Michoacán, after a roughly 4841-500 vote that was recognized by the state electoral institute. Yet as much as Cherán's anger with political parties unable to solve their problems is understandable, I don't really see the usos y costumbres as a panacea for anything.

I will be off to Paracho the coming days, the "world capital of guitars," to by me a nice Vihuela, and hope to stop by Cherán, unless the situation is too tense.

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