The Haciendas are one of the biggest attractions in the Yucatan Peninsula. We can know part of the social, cultural and economic history of the area through the Haciendas.

In the 1880 The Yucatan Peninsula was one of the most prosperous regions of the Mexican Republic thanks to the development of henequera industry, the green gold of the Yucatan. Throughout the peninsula grew henequen plantations, we will know a fundamental part of the history of the region.

Why do Haciendas arise?

They counted more than a thousand haciendas in the Peninsula. During the period from 1850 to 1950, the henequera industry it was so powerful in the Yucatan Peninsula that stimulated a spectacular development of communications, banking and commerce. This caused a consequent increase in the population, with migratory records as disparate as Chinese (many to build the railroads), Italians, Koreans and Yaqui Indians of Sonora. The green gold It marked the social and economic life of the Yucatan region where everything revolved around the henequen for a centenary.

The powerful henequera industry was developed from the Haciendas.

Hacienda Yaxcopoil, Yucatan

What is henequen?

The call green gold it's a kind of Yucatan native cactus. From the leaves of the henequen, their natural fibers are extracted for the manufacture of yarns and fabrics for domestic, commercial, agricultural and industrial use.

Share henequen they are manufactured products as strong ropes that were used to tie boats, thread to pack, fabrics to decorate walls, carpets, sacks for coffee, cocoa or corn ... Under the fervor of a constant demand from the United States, France, Spain and other European countries, many haciendas, surpassing the thousand at the beginning of the 20th century.

Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, Tecoh, Yucatan, Mexico.
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, Tecoh, Yucatan, Mexico.
Working henequen fibers
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, Tecoh, Yucatan, Mexico.
Fibers of henequen drying in the sun

Why does the green gold fever end?

After the Second World War, with the appearance of synthetic fiber, henequen industry it falls to the bottom. Synthetic fiber ends up replacing henequen in most of its uses as it is a more economical and equally resistant product, market laws.

El henequen It was also known as sisal. This name was born for a curious reason: the name of the Mexican port population from where the boats loaded with henequen departed, was Sisal. So Sisal was the name that marked the packaging of the products and was the one that caught on in foreign countries, confusing the name of the port with henequen.

Hacienda Yucatán

What was life like on Haciendas?

The hectares of the lands of the Haciendas they were dedicated to the henequero cultivation, many combined it with the cattle ranch. Within the land of the large haciendas was own henequera factory, the warehouse, the workshop and the shredder. The main house presided over the entrance to the Treasury.

Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, Tecoh, Yucatan, Mexico.

The Haciendas they were used only occasionally by the owners: the European or mestizo patrons had their own residential houses in Mérida, the Yucatecan capital. They went to the hacienda eventually to hold meetings and celebrations.

Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, Tecoh, Yucatan, Mexico.

La main house It was high ceilings to provide good ventilation and thus coexist better with the intense heat of Yucatan. The kitchen of the main house it was always kept clean because it was cooked in the homes of the hacienda workers. The bedrooms completed the stays.

Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, Tecoh, Yucatan, Mexico.
Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, Tecoh, Yucatan, Mexico.
Kitchen Sotuta de Peon

The workers in the Haciendas:

Workers of the haciendas were the majority of source maya. They lived and worked inside the Haciendas in a regime of slavery, although they totally avoided this word in the writings that tell the story, the oral tradition explains another reality on the part of the Mayans. The large haciendas they worked like mini countries, keeping their workers in a system of disguised slavery. The most notable haciendas had their own laws and currency.

Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, Tecoh, Yucatan, Mexico.

Have an own currency it allowed them to pay the workers with it: it was only valid within their hacienda and the change to the currency of current use went out exorbitantly. In this way, they kept the workers in a state that was certainly limited, spending what they had earned on their farm and indebted the staff with the high standard of living imposed by some henequeros at will. The human being always being abusive to the weakest, nothing new unfortunately.

Hacienda Yaxcopoil

Within the lands of the Haciendas the school was with Catholic doctrine for the children of the workers, the chapel could not miss, justice was taught in the hacienda itself at the discretion of the employer, who had the right to pay, had the large haciendas jail, the workers they allowed their cornfields to be provided for food and not cut with the traditional attachment of the Maya to their land, who lived and died buried in the cemetery of the hacienda. A life at the service of the employer.

Hacienda Yaxcopoil, Yucatan

The Divine Caste, the lords of henequen:

During the splendor of this era, it was lived under the charms of the French influence. The ships that came back from Europe once the henequen landed, came loaded with French merchandise as furniture to decorate the houses, ceramics, wines, tiles ... the French influence was even noticeable in the Paseo de Montejo of the manor Mérida, emulating the Champs Elysees of Paris. This walk is where a large part of the clan of the Divine Caste, which monopolized the henequen market.

Paseo Montejo Mérida, Yucatán
Casona del Paseo de Montejo, Merida

The Haciendas at present:

This century of splendor that lived Yucatan has left us as testimonies hundreds of beautiful haciendas. At present they have been transformed into hotels, some in meeting spaces and celebrations of events as weddings, birthdays or quinceañeras, others were refurbished with great detail for tourists to visit and some like the Hacienda Aké continues to work henequen for a small products industry that still exists.

Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, Tecoh, Yucatan, Mexico.

In the Yucatan Peninsula There are stores with objects made of henequen like hats, fabrics or bags.

There are Haciendas for all tastes: the most tourist like Sotuta de Peón or of Ochil where they offer guided tours, the must-see Yaxcopoil, the wonderful Ake, where its henequera factory is still operating, some of them refurbished in luxury hotels such as Hacienda Temozón or Uayamon. There are more and more renovated haciendas in hotels, a concept that has fit very well.

List about Haciendas in the Yucatan Peninsula. Some are reached by public transport, although they are often removed from the road.

Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, Yucatán
Hacienda Sotuta de Peón Room

If you go by private car you have the possibility of entering one of the roads that lead to haciendas that can be seen from the road, you will see that it will be easy to check the friendly nature of the Yucatecans, always ready to show you their farm while they explain some What another anecdote. Surely you are surprised by these places, visit the one you visit you will find nooks and crannies where you can continue to breathe past stories. It is worth knowing this piece of history within its walls.

Good way,

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Sandra Salvadó Training photographer, traveler by vocation and certified tourism guide by the Government of Mexico. We promote natural wonders and contemporary Mayan culture. Great fan of pre-Hispanic history. Author of the blog and co-founder of The Shortest Path Travel, agency that guides you through alternative paths in Mayan lands. Social and sustainable tourism in the Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas.
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Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, Yucatán
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