|Town & Municipality|
Main plaza of Cuajinicuilapa
|• Municipal President||C. José Guadalupe Salvador Cruz Castro|
|• Municipality||715 km2 (276 sq mi)|
|Elevation of seat||50 m (160 ft)|
|Time zone||CST (UTC-6)|
|Postal code (of seat)||41919|
Cuajinicuilapa is a town and municipality in the Costa Chica region of the Mexican state of Guerrero. A low lying area, it borders the Pacific Ocean and the state of Oaxaca. The municipality has the state's largest population of Afro-Mexicans with most of the population of this ethnicity. The town and municipality are highly socioeconomically marginalized and it is the poorest municipality of the state, with the economy dependent on livestock and fishing.
The town of Cuajinicuilapa is 361 km from the Guerrero state capital of Chilpancingo and has an altitude of fifty meters above sea level. While it is the commercial center of a rural municipality with two small supermarkets, various stores and a traditional municipal market, it has a high level of socioeconomic marginalization. It is also the center of communications and transportation with mail service and telephone mostly limited to here and it has a small airstrip.
It is the seat of a municipality, which promotes its Afro-Mexican heritage. The town was host to the 13th Encuentro de Pueblos Negros in 2011, sponsored by the Centro Cultural de España en México. The purpose of the event is to promote Afro-Mexican identity, issues and culture in Mexico.
The Museo de las Culturas Afromestizas, formerly called the Museo de la Tercera Raíz, is the first museum in Mexico dedicated to the descendents of African slaves in Mexico and their history. It is located in the center of the town, near the main plaza.
As seat, the town of Cuajinicuilapa is the local government for ninety communities, which together cover an area of 715km2. The municipality borders the municipalities of Azoyú, Ometepec, Juchitán and Marquelia with the Pacific Ocean to the south and west and the state of Oaxaca to the east. It has 28 preschools, 41 primary schools, 14 middle schools and three public high schools. There is also a vocational school and a high school run by the Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero. The main roads of the municipality are Highway 200 connecting Acapulco and Pinotepa Nacional and the local road connecting Cuajinicuilapa with Punta Maldonado. The rest of the communities are connected by dirt roads.
One notable Afro-Mexican community outside the seat is San Nicolás. The residents here have a reputation for festivities and dancing. It is said that people have gotten ill and even died after parties called fandangos, which can last for up to three days.
The Playa de Tierra Colorada is located in the community of the same name located between Punta Maldonado and the Barra de Tecoanapa. The area was declared an ecological reserve by the municipality in 1986 because it is a breeding area for marine turtles as well as its rich vegetation.
Punta Maldonado is a small cape, which is the furthest point east of the state of Guerrero. It is an important fishing port, especially of rock lobster as well as its large Afro-Mexican population. The men go out to sea at night to fish in shifts that can last up to fifteen hours every day. It has a small antique lighthouse very near the border with Oaxaca.
The Santo Domingo lagoon has a wide variety of fish and birds especially among its mangroves. Near Santo Domingo is the Barra del Pío. It is generally inhabited only during certain fishing seasons, with houses here that are abandoned during other times of the year.
Demographics and culture
Cuajinicuilapa is the largest Afro-Mexican community in the Costa Chica region of Guerrero with most of the population of this ethnicity. The municipal government promotes Cuajinicuilapa as the “municipio negro” or “black municipality” as a way to obtain federal resources. Afro-Mexican culture is not defined by language or dress, but rather body language, vocabulary and a shared history. Much of the “black” population is mixed with indigenous. Those native to the municipality are called criollos even if black. There is some hostility between blacks and indigenous. Much of the population of the area has migrated out since the 1980s. The population has grown, but much of this is because of migration into Cuajinicuilapa by other groups, including Amuzgos and Mixtecs, especially in the 2000s. They have become the majority in a number of communities in the municipality including El Cuije and La Petaca. As of 2010, there are just over 1,300 who speak an indigenous language, most of whom speak Amuzgo and Mixtec.
Los Diablos (the devils) is the best known Afro-Mexican dance in the Costa Chica with dancers wearing devil’s mask and dancing with wild, exaggerated movements. They are attended by assistants with whips. From 30 October to 1 November, the dancers leave the cemetery to dance, eat offerings of food and more. They spend three days in the streets with dance, music, and theatrical antics before “returning” to the grave. The two main dancers represent the chief of the devils called Tenango or Pancho along with his wife called La Minga, the mother of devils who also appears in other regional dances. The dance as various influences including African and Catholic. While the dance and dressing up as devils were exclusively for men, this has changed as many have left to work outside of the Costa Chica. Women and children have now participated in the annual ritual. Other dances in the municipality include El Torito (the little bull), which is centered on a frame in the shape of a bull that goes through town with residents dancing around it. Versions of La Conquista and Doce Pares de Francia have unusual characters such as Hernán Cortés, Cuauhtémoc, Moctezuma, Charlemagne and Turkish horsemen. Las Chilenas are dances with erotic movements.
Regional specialties include barbacoa, red and green mole, pig’s head with mole sauce, tamales of various types including with iguana meat, seafood prepared in various ways including shrimp and lobster. Traditional drinks include chilate (similar to pozol) and a drink called chicha.
Almost all in the municipality are Catholic with only about 2,500 people professing other faiths such as Jehovah's Witness and Pentecostal. However, the percentage of non-Catholics is growing. The main feast days are dedicated to the Apostle James (in August) and Nicolas of Tolentino in September. On the second Friday of Lent, a regional fair exhibits the area’s products, such as cattle, along with cockfights, horse racing and popular dance.
Geography and environment
Cuajinicuilapa is in the Costa Chica region of Guerrero in the southeast of the state along the Pacific Ocean and the border of Oaxaca. The area is mostly rolling hills along with beaches on the coast. Near the Pacific Ocean and the Azoyú border in the northwest the land is flat, in the southeast it is semi-flat with gentle hills. There is very few significant elevations but they include El Borjo (85masl), Las Tablas (70masl), Pozas de Agua (85masl) and Piedra Parada (45masl) .
The climate is semi most and hot with average temperatures varying from 19C to 34C during the year. There is a defined rainy season from May to October.
The most important river is the Santa Catarina, which enters the municipality from Ometepec. Here it joins with the Quetzala to empty into the Pacific at the Barra de Tecoanapa. In addition there are a number of streams such as La Zanja, Arriero, Las Playitas, Mataplátano, Cuaulote, Cortija, El Chorro, La Serpiente, Carrizo, Arroyo Viejo, Soledad, Tecoyame, La Presa, Fortuna and Samaritanes. There are some lagoons such as the Monte Alto, Portezuela and Albufera Salinitas.
It has a high level of socioeconomic marginalization and is the poorest in Guerrero. About forty two percent of homes have adobe walls, about fifty seven percent have cement and less than one percent have wood or laminate walls. Sixty one percent have running water, about thirty six percent have drainage and eighty nine percent have electricity. About eighty two percent own their own homes.
Much of the municipality is grassland suitable for agriculture and livestock. The principal cash crops are hibiscus and sesame seed. Other crops include palm trees and corn. Fishing is important on the coast proper, especially in Punta Maldonado.
There are some deposits of iron and aluminum oxide.
The main tourist attraction is Punta Maldonado, also known as El Faro. It is followed by the Santo Domingo Lagoon, which has extensive mangrove and Barra de Pío.
The area was conquered by 1522 by Pedro de Alvarado, who established the Spanish town of Acatlán. In 1531, an uprising by the Tlapaneca caused many to flee the area. During the 16th century, the area lost almost all of its indigenous population due to war, oppression and disease.
The loss of indigenous labor prompted the Spanish to bring African slaves over the colonial period for 300 years. Most of the slaves headed for Mexico arrived in Veracruz. However, those that managed to escape began to make their way to the Costa Chica area. The area was dedicated to livestock, with much of the land owned by Mateo Anaus y Mauleon. The isolation of the area and the lack of workers led to an arrangement between Anaus and the runaway slaves, trading cheap labor for sanctuary. Over time the Cuajinicuilapa area was home to a number of communities of escaped slaves and their descendents. Many of these worked as cowboys or with leather. Over time, many of these intermarried with indigenous and whites.
In 1878, much of the land came under the control of the Casa Miller enterprise, an association between Pérez Reguera and Carlos A. Miller. The enterprise consisted of a soap factory, and land where they raised cattle and grew cotton. The holdings include about 125,000 hectares, centered on Cuajinicuilapa. The town was home to whites. The blacks lived in small huts with thatched roofs based on African-style construction. Product from the enterprise was shipped through Tecoanapa with destination such as Salina Cruz, Manzanillo and Acapulco.
- "Cuajinicuilapa" (in Spanish). Mexico: Government of Guerrero. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
- "Cuajinicuilapa – Población Rural y Territorio" [Cuajinicuilapa- Rural population and territory] (in Spanish). Mexico: State of Guerrero. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
- "Resumen municipal" [Summary of municipality]. Catálogo de Localidades (in Spanish). Mexico: SEDESOL. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
- Eduardo Añorve Zapata (February 27, 2007). "Cuajinicuilapa trasmuta su color negro hacia matices indígenas" [Cuajinicuilapa transforms is black color into indigenous links]. La Jornada de Guerrero (in Spanish) (Chilpancingo). Retrieved April 30, 2012.
- "XIII Encuentro de Pueblos Negros en Cuajinicuilapa, Estado de Guerrero" [XIII Encounter of Black Towns in Cuajinicuilapa, State of Guerrero] (in Spanish). Madrid: Centro Cultural de España en México (AECID). March 13, 2011. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
- "Cuajinicuilapa, en la Costa Chica de Guerrero" (in Spanish). Mexico City: Mexico Desconocido magazine. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
- Jiménez González, Victor Manuel, ed. (2009). Guerrero: Guía para descubrir los encantos del estado [Guerrero: Guide to discover the charms of the state] (in Spanish). Mexico City: Editorial Océano de México, SA de CV. p. 75. ISBN 978 607 400 178 5.
- Arturo Jiménez (March 22, 2010). "Cuando los diablos se van de fiesta" [When devils to go party]. La Jornada (in Spanish) (Mexico City). Retrieved April 30, 2012.
- "Reporta alcalde de Cuajinicuilapa dos muertos durante el sismo" [Mayor of Cuajinicuilapa reports two dead from earthquake]. La Jornada de Jalisco (in Spanish) (Guadalajara, Mexico). March 22, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
- "Confirman dos decesos por sismo en Cuajinicuilapa, Guerrero" [Confirm two dead from earthquake in Cuajinicuilapa]. El Sol de Acapulco (in Spanish) (Acapulco, Mexico). March 22, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
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