Caribbean Coast Feature

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Caste Wars

When Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821, there wasn't much for Maya to celebrate. They continued to be treated as second-class, "lower-caste" citizens, just as they had under centuries of Spanish rule, and the new government refused to return confiscated lands. In Valladolid in 1847, Maya rose up in a coordinated rebellion. Within a year, hundreds of Mexicans were dead, and the War of the Castes was on.

Help for the embattled Mexicans arrived with a vengeance from Mexico City, Cuba, and the United States. By 1850 the tables had turned, and as many as 200,000 Maya—nearly half the population—were killed. Survivors fled to the jungles and held out for decades, until government troops finally withdrew in 1915. The Maya controlled Quintana Roo from Tulum, their headquarters, but were finally forced to accept Mexican rule in 1935.

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