Historical novel set in Yucatán explores class system that outlives the henequen trade

Francisco Martin Moreno. Photo: Alchetron
Francisco Martin Moreno. Photo: Alchetron

Francisco Martin Moreno’s new novel is set in Yucatán’s golden age, and its protagonist is the son of a large henequen producer who discovers the brutal working conditions in his father’s hacienda.

Criticizing classist and racist attitudes that pervade society, Martin Moreno, pulls no punches in “Mexico Esclavizado” (“Mexico Enslaved”).

Martin Moreno, 72, the son of a Spanish-German couple who went into exile because of Nazism and Francoism, has written numerous historical novels about Mexico.

Although this novel, written in Spanish, takes place in the early 20th century, the author told EFE that “modern slavery” still exists in Mexico.

“There is human trafficking, extortion, horrible exploitation; there are children who work and there are 3 million women who work more than 8 hours per day as housekeepers,” the Mexican writer and journalist said.

“Mexico Esclavizado” denounces classism and racism “so that history does not repeat itself,” he said.

The virtual slavery that existed in haciendas 100 years ago or more is echoed in today’s society, a realization that propelled him to write “Mexico Esclavizado.”

Martin Moreno is convinced that his new book “will not land softly in Yucatán,” due to the fact that many Yucatecan businesspersons and intellectuals deny what happened in the region.

But the novel, he said, is based on extensive research and the author challenged anyone to disprove him.

According to Martin Moreno, the Catholic church played a crucial role in this system of slavery, as priests would encourage workers to accept exploitation as an earthly suffering that would provide them “greater heavenly glory.”

The government also encouraged this exploitation, as many governors, judges and congressmen were also hacienda owners, the author said.

Source: EFE

Staff Writer

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