National Geographic : 1996 Aug
EMERGING MEXICO Bright with Promise, Tangledin the Past European religion, agriculture, and industry, but unlikethe colonists tothe north the Spanish did not obliterate earlier races. Instead, the mixing of Spanish and Indian has created a people like no other on earth. Mexico has three ethnic divisions. People of European descent make up perhaps 10 percent of the population and tend to be among the wealthy elite. At the other end of theeincome scale are the remaining full-blooded Indians-about a third of the population, most in the region of stripped rain forests in the south. But Mexico is dominated by mestizos, people of Span ish and Indian blood. So for most Mexicans the deepest ties to this land date not from the arrival of a ship loaded with homesick Europeans but from people who came here on foot so long ago that even myth does not remember. Within the blood of these Mexicans run the civilizations of Olmec and Maya and Aztec, as well as the urgent hungers of the Spanish. "No matter what the government says, we're not leaving this land," declares a defi ant Domingo Diaz, who-like these three masked Indians jealously guards the land he has seized.